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Interview, SJ Tucker

January 10, 2012

A little background. SJ Tucker. Dear god. If you have not heard her music i will forgive you…eventually. Search for it and listen to it. A lot. And then buy CDs and everything you can think of. I also want to say how fantastically gracious she is. This interview was a while in the making and she’s just fantastic. I ran into her following a recommendation by Laurell K Hamilton on her site and found her again after Catherynne Valente collaberated with her on a project for the Orphan’s Tales. Oh, and Palimpsest.

Without further ado, please welcome SJ Tucker to Oberon’s Law!

1. It seems like being a traveling minstrel (with ten albums according toWikipedia, two Pegasus Awards, and multiple collaborations with people like Cat Valente, Alexander James Adams, and Seanan McGuire) isn’t the typical thing one wants to be when one grows up. How did you get here?

Actually, if I’d had the words to say exactly what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would have said I’d want to be the type of person who gets to collaborate with such wonderful creative people. (smile) What I wanted most when I was younger was to get out into the world and find what I called my tribe. I grew up in a small town, and I didn’t have many people to talk to. In many cases, my tribe found me. I’ve been very fortunate.
For somebody who didn’t have that many people to talk to as a kid, I’ve certainly made a ton of amazing and creative friends as a result of my career, my music, and my travels. I wouldn’t trade the authors and fellow musicians
who’ve become friends of mine for anything in the world. Our lives are colored so much by the people we share them with. I’ve got an extremely colorful life at this point, thanks to my collaborators, bandmates, fans and friends.

2. What’s been the coolest part of being a performer?

I love getting to travel and to see so many beautiful places. I love that I’ve been able to make a life of doing what I love to do best, of writing songs and singing them for people. But I think I love it best of all when other people share their stories with me, whether they come up to me at an event and just want to talk, or whether they email me later. Sometimes a person will share a story with me of something that happened to him/her in a faraway and beautiful place; sometimes he or she will share something that a song of mine reminded him or her of, something s/he’d thought lost and gone. Sometimes it’s wisdom I would never have found on my own that s/he feels compelled to share- that’s such a huge gift. Sometimes a friend I’ve made along the way will tell me how I’ve touched him or her with my music after years have gone by. Sometimes I get an actual handwritten fan letter from someone who had a profound epiphany after only having met me in passing. We all have such an effect on each other; I’m grateful when the people who touch my life take the time to tell me that I have touched theirs as well. There’s no better compliment.

3. What projects are you working on right now?

I’m writing my first film score, for an independent fantasy film called Ember Days. It won’t be a large-scale release at all, but it’s an interesting film, with faeries and Greek gods and fallen angels all chasing each other around with swords and guns. I’m looking forward to producing the soundtrack album. I get to work with several
of my dearest friends on this project- Bekah Kelso and Alexander James Adams to name two, and I also get to challenge myself as a composer, learn a couple of new instruments, dust off some that I haven’t played in a while. I’ll be tinkering with everything from MIDI keyboard to harp to fujara (traditional Scandinavian flute) if I can find one!

This winter I’m also hoping to complete, first and foremost, an album called Wonders, which is to be a tie-in with Catherynne M. Valente’s novel, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. The book is
delightful, and the album is shaping up to be a good match for it- songs about quests, flying panthers, disgruntled witches, and scary river spirits are in the works, all of them inspired by characters and events in the book.

After that, I’ll be working with some of my favorite collaborators, including engineer and mastermind Ginger Doss, on my next earth-spirituality-themed album, which will be called Rootless. I have an album of spooky love songs
called Stolen Season that I’d like to work on as well. Tricky Pixie is on the verge of picking up where we left off on our second album, and I’m hoping that my bandmates will collaborate with me on a Red Riding Hood rock opera soon.

When I have scads of time, I like to compose harder-edged electronic music, and I’ve been promising an album of that to myself and to fans for years.

Once I get all of this done, I’ll go climb a couple of mountains and learn to tango. (grin)

Next year I get to tour with Tricky Pixie and with the Heather Dale band a bit. I’m also hoping to tour with the aforementioned miss Bekah Kelso, who is fabulous, and with our friends Big Bad Gina, who are taking the womyn’s music
scene by storm. Inbetween recording marathons, I’ll be working on tour schedules for 2012 and beyond. As things get confirmed, I’ll post them on my tour schedule website (http://www.skinnywhitechick.com/shows.php) and I’ll be crowing to my email list about them.

4. If you could give your teenage self advice–of any kind–what would it be?

You’re doing it right. Keep shining and keep singing; it’s gonna be worth it, sooner than you think. Your family-of-choice, your community, and your tribe of the heart are out there, and you will find them. Keep dreaming, keep singing, keep writing, and don’t let anything stop you!

5. If you were a fruit, what fruit would it be and why?

Olives are my favorite, but I’ve been eating a ton of pomegranate seeds lately. The story of Persephone from the Greeks is all wrapped up in my personal folklore in recent months. In several versions of the tale, Persephone eats six pomegranate seeds while she’s in Hades’ lands, and Hades reckons that she must stay with him for six months out of the year as a result. I visit so many wonderful places on my travels, and I am often tempted to stay. Sometimes I deliberately eat pomegranate seeds when I’m in a place that I dream of staying in, and I smile. I’ve eaten entire pomegranates from time to time- that’s one way you know- and I know- that I really like where I’ve ended up.

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