Marissa Nadler Talks Dream Collaborations and New Album ‘July’
Singer-songwriters are often clumped together into one general category. But Marissa Nadler is one of those artists that has been able experiment with both her sound and lyrics to show dynamics in her music. Her new album, ‘July,’ which arrives today (Feb. 4), shows her darker side and proves there’s more to her than meets the eye.
Born in Washington, D.C. and now based in Boston, Nadler has been in the scene for just over a decade and has seven albums and EPs under her belt. ‘July’ follows her 2011 self-titled album, which she distributed through her own label. She’s now signed to Sacred Bones in the U.S. and Bella Union in the U.K., and those deals gave her the opportunity to focus on the actual making of the album opposed to trying to balance the creative and business sides of the industry. This led to a poetic and melodious album gaining buzz among critics.
Diffuser.fm had the chance to talk to Nadler about record labels, dream collaborations, the new record and more.
Even though you did release ‘The Sister EP,’ it’s been a few years since your self-titled album. How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist from your last LP to this one?
I think it’s just a natural progression. I think the use of harmonies and vocal layering is definitely something new.
And you released the last two projects through your own label but have recently signed with Sacred Bones and Bella Union. Why did you decide to go back to working with a label opposed to distributing it on your own?
I wanted to spend more time making music and less time on the internet dealing with the ins and outs of releasing records. Self-releasing was a great experience, but I felt a bit overwhelmed. I’m really happy to be working with both Sacred Bones and Bella Union.
There a bunch of acts on the two labels you’re with now, which you mentioned when you announced signing with them. Who would you love to collaborate with one day?
David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch would both be insane to collaborate with, and they both have put out music on Sacred Bones. On Bella Union, I’d love to work with the Dirty Three (wordless vocal contributions or something). They’ve been one of my favorite bands for over a decade.
Recording ‘July,’ you worked with Angel Olsen and Xasthur. What were your experiences with them like?
Angel and I sent two cover songs back and forth. They’re both on my SoundCloud. Anyway, she’s awesome. I love her music. Maybe we’ll do some more one day. Xasthur — that was a few years ago. He asked me to sing on his black metal project, and I said yes. It was an interesting experience for sure. I’ve talked with this band named Locrian about doing some vocals for them, as well as with Balam Acab. I’m always interested in collaborating if I can see some kind of kindred spirit in the musician.
It’s the first time you’ve worked with Randall Dunn. What were the challenges in working with someone you haven’t worked with in the past?
Well, I’ve known of him for years and knew him a bit. Actually, it was a great experience, and I’m planning on working with him again. He’s worked on some awesome records.
You just released the single ‘Was It A Dream,’ and it’s a bit brighter than ‘Dead City Emily.’ Will ‘July’ show a light and dark contrast in your songwriting?
Yes, I think so. Though, I think of ‘Was It A Dream’ as pretty dark, too, but I guess there’s drums so it gives it a different sound.
What’s ‘Was It A Dream’ about?
It’s a song about having a conversation with a friend. During this conversation, the protagonist is telling her friend about coming out of a massive depression and finding hope again, in life as well as in a relationship.
There’s a rich quality to your sound even though it’s relatively stripped down. It’s refreshing, considering the current climate of lots of synths and electronic layers. What draws you to this type of sound?
Well, I’m kind of a minimalist. I want the song to stand on it’s own and not rely too much on other things.
Who are you listening to right now?
Locrian and the Dirty Three.
What is next for Marissa Nadler in 2014?