Friday, December 16, 2011

Glasser interview

Bobby Townsend chats to Glasser as she prepares to make her Australian debut: 

"I've been expecting you, Bobby," says Glasser in her best Bond villain voice as she picks up the phone to chat about her upcoming visit to Australia. Her impression makes way for a laugh. It's an infectious belly laugh that will feature heavily over the next few minutes of conversation. It turns out, you see, that Glasser - aka Cameron Mesirow - is just about the loveliest person ever.

Glasser heads to the Southern Hemisphere early next year to play at St Jerome's Laneway Festival on the back of critical acclaim for her debut album, Ring. "I'm so excited. I cannot wait," the New York-based singer/songwriter says of her first ever trip to Australia. "My only expectation is that it will be warm."

Warmness is something associated with Laneway, from the general vibe of the crowd to the fact that the weather always seems to be baking hot on the day of the event. Having never played on these shores before, is Glasser looking forward to the opportunity of playing the festival to win over some new fans? She takes a few seconds to answer. "Erm. yeaaaaah," she says, as if in slow motion. Most of her answers start in such a fashion. "That's an interesting thing, I guess. Winning new fans is really great, but at the same time it's great when people are already excited and know all the songs."

That is more likely to be the case at her sideshows, in which she features in a double-bill with Chairlift. However, regardless of whether you head to one of her club shows or you see her at the festival, you're best advised to pay attention to what is happening on the stage. "In both cases, the crowd is quite loud," she says if I ask whether she prepares differently for an indoor show and a festival. "There are some quiet parts to my set sometimes that require attention. I use in-ear monitoring so I don't hear people chattering, but I often see tweets after I've played where people were saying 'I'm at the Glasser show and the people behind me won't shut up.'" She stops herself. "I don't know. I've had enormously good luck so far so I don't want to sound ungrateful. People are usually really respectful. I have a nice time." When I tell her that the worst thing about going to gigs for me is, in fact, the other people in the crowd and that I would be happier if it were just me in attendance, she laughs. "A personal gig?"

So, if the uninitiated pay attention, what can they expect from the show? And how does her one-woman-orchestra dynamic translate to the live arena? Does she bring a bunch of musicians with her to achieve the intimate, luxurious sound she lays down on record? "I have done but now I don't. I have one person who travels with me and he is the wizard behind the live show. But it's really, like, a show of me dancing and singing. What can people expect? They can expect quite a lot of my voice. Yeah," she chuckles, before continuing. "They can expect that I want them to be happy and entertained by my show."

Glasser's lyrics are rather abstract and cryptic, which leads me to wonder whether that is just her natural writing style, or if she consciously goes out of her way to encourage people to join the dots? "I've experimented with a lot of different styles of writing. I cringe when I write anything that is too specific. I like to keep a vagueness in the writing. I think there are things that I can do better and that I have a long way to go as a lyricist and a musician. But I think that I am definitely moving all the time. I'm not just staying in the same place, so that's good."

Her musical style is quite unique in that it draws from a whole spectrum of sounds and gels them together. But did she have the vision to create such a sonic landscape from the very beginning, or did it come about organically? Her answer again, starts off slow and considered, before accelerating rapidly. "Err... I think... a little bit of both. There were definitely some things that I couldn't help but do. I know that's true. There is always going to be something about the way that you write an article or the way you brush your teeth or whatever that is uniquely yours almost by accident, but then there were things that I felt very calculated about. I think the latter is more common for me." By this, she is referring to the way she creates her sound by taking influences from here and there and piecing them together. When something is moving too far in one direction, she'll consciously go the other way. "I intend to exhibit myself as a fan of many different types of music. I'm not sure if I've finished doing that, but it is definitely something I have in mind when I'm writing. Not being too much of this or too much of that, and to throw a little bit of the opposite into the mix. If that makes sense."

Before Laneway, the musician will be spending some time at home, where she will be crafting some new tunes that, who knows, might just make their way into her set at the festival. "I working on new music. I'm in New York and I'm really excited about being here because I've been away touring for a long time. It feels so good to be back. I've just been smiling at everyone on the street." Of course, she ends this sentence with a laugh.

And what is the Glasser masterplan? The Glasserplan, if you will. Does she want to see a zillion records, or make one more album and then move onto projects new? "Ermmm... I don't..." She stops, and starts again. "I've never considered going into business as, like, a farmer, or anything like that," she offers, rather strangely, before chuckling to herself. "I have every intention to stay creative. But I can't say if it will continue to be music forever because I have lot of other creative interests and I have a million ideas all the time." More giggles. "I don't know... books... and... different types of internet start up companies." She can barely finish her sentence through laughter. "It's a funny world I live in."

Before she signs off, she says, "I hope you like the show." If her performance is half as engaging and fun as this 15 minute telephone conversation, that seems in little doubt.

Interview by Bobby Townsend. For more details on Laneway, click here. See Glasser's tour dates here.

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