Nell Bryden Interview
Laura- Can you tell me a bit about how you grew up and how music was an influence in your life?
Nell- I was around music from a very early age - my mother is a classical
singer and was taking me on tour with her for the various chamber
music groups she sang with. I went to South America, all over the
US, and into Europe with her too. It meant that I never really
questioned WHETHER I would go into music, just HOW I would do it. I
started on cello for about 12 years, then moved to study classical
voice and jazz, and eventually realized I wanted to write my own
songs so I picked up guitar. I found rock and roll on my own - that
was my rebellion.
Laura- It’s a really interesting story about how you were able to
afford to start touring professionally, can you explain to our readers what happened?
Nell- Well I was already out there touring non-stop, but I hit a wall
financially and had to move home for a bit. My father is a painter,
very talented, his name is Lewis Bryden. He has an attic filled with
his paintings and one day I was poking around in there, and was drawn
to a particularly dusty box sitting in the back. I pulled out a
painting that wasn't one of my father's - it was a Milton Avery, a
name I recognized from my art history class in college. It turns out
it was a picture my parents had gotten for me when I was a baby, but
then had forgotten about it and never told me, until I found it and
sold it at Sotheby's for a small fortune.
Laura- What response have you been getting in America since the release of your first album ‘Second time around’?
Nell- America is a huge place. I get a good response from the cities, and
from the areas in the South and West where the types of music I love
come from - like bluegrass and blues and soul music. After playing
for the troops in Iraq, there started to be families back home that
would find out about me from their husbands or wives serving
overseas. But touring in the States is an entirely different
situation from a place like Ireland, where word of mouth reaches the
outer towns much faster and you can drive the length of the country
in a day (even if it's a LONG day!)
Laura- You got the chance to perform for the American soldiers in Iraq,
which was astonishing, how did that gig come about and how were you feeling that day?
Nell- I was playing South By Southwest, the music conference in Austin
Texas, when a Colonel came up to me and told me that where I was
really needed was in front of the troops in Iraq. I'd never had any
experience with the military, never had even been in support of the
war even, but when I thought about it I realized that bringing music
to people far from home was the least I could do. I'd probably end
up getting more out of it than the troops! I was a little
apprehensive about going into a war zone, but I live in New York, was
there on September 11th 2001, and I know that anything can happen at
any time so you might as well follow your heart and get out there.
Staying in my bedroom and wondering "what if?" would be much harder
in the long run.
Laura- You’ve been touring the world over the past year, appearing on
radio shows and television stations across the globe it must have been a surreal
experience and I’m sure you have met plenty of famous people.
Who were you lucky to meet?
Nell- I met Gok Wan on the BBC Breakfast show, he was fun. Also I opened
for the Counting Crows, and loved the guys in that band. We got
along very well. KT Tunstall also let me do support for her - she is
a consummate professional. Enya and Pete Doherty were on the Late
Late Show the night I was too. And living in New York, you see
celebrities all the time. Sarah Jessica Parker lives down the street
from me. The supermodel Gisele is often in my gym, and my guy
friends always want play-by-play stories of her in the locker room.
Nothing doing, boys.
Laura- Also you were on the Late Late show in Dublin back in February. And performed a gig in Crawdaddy's, which I’m pleased to say I was there for!
Are you happy to be in Ireland again?
Nell- Very happy. It's like my adopted homeland now. I fell in love with
it the first time I came three years ago, and this is my seventh time
here now. The sense of humor here is very much like mine, sarcastic
and taking the piss a lot. People generally take themselves too
seriously in my line of work. I like how the Irish are always
rooting for the underdog.
Laura- Now the release of your new album is coming up, can you tell me
what its called and what people are to expect from you on this record?
Nell- The new album is called "What Does It Take," in shops around the
country now. It's produced by David Kershenbaum, who worked with
Tracy Chapman on her "Fast Car" single and album, and Joe Jackson's
"Stepping Out." I love old style music, and people like Adel or Amy
Winehouse are very inspiring because they seem to straddle both
worlds - the modern and the classic - very easily. There's a mix of
lots of styles on here, some blues, soul, bluegrass...
Laura- What are your plans for the rest of ’09?
Nell- Tour Tour Tour. That has always been my mantra. I'd like to meet as
many new fans as possible. I love what I do, so it doesn't feel like
Laura- I’m a big fan of yours and delighted to have been given a chance to
interview you. I wish you the best of luck with your music career and
Thanks a million or doing this interview for our readers at MusicReview unsigned.
Nell- You rock, Laura. Thank you sweetheart. Hope to see you at Whelan's
on June 30th! 2009!
Interview by Laura McGlynn
taken from http://www.musicreviewunsigned.com