New Jersey songstress Nicole Atkins brings her psychedelic space-rock to Toronto tonight at The Horseshoe Tavern. Fans can expect to hear new songs from her recently released record Slow Phaser, along with tracks taken from her second LP Mondo Amore and her debut album Neptune City. Before hitting the stage, A Music Blog, Yea? spoke with Nicole Atkins about Slow Phaser, songwriting influences, dream concerts, and hanging out with beagles…
AMBY: Hello Nicole, welcome to AMBY and congrats on the release of Slow Phaser! What was the experience like recording it?
Nicole Atkins: Slow Phaser took a couple of years to write but recording it was a couple months and probably the most fun I’ve ever had in the studio. My good friend and producer Tore Johansson invited me back to Malmo Sweden to record with him after Hurricane Sandy hit my hometown in New Jersey. With my town under construction, it couldn’t have come at a better time. His studio is on the harbor and kind of looks like a fraggle rock pirate ship filled with instruments. It was very cozy and focused and sonically we didn’t put many boundaries on ourselves. We let ourselves come unhinged for a month and then put it all back together.
AMBY: What were your biggest influences songwriting-wise on the new album?
Nicole Atkins: My biggest influence for this record was where I was at in my life. I felt like I was stuck in this kind of adult babydom. Seeing all of my friends become adults with children and homes. Also feeling like I’d been through so much and seen so much yet still felt like my work relied on the confidence of others opinions. I decided to kindof just go off the grid for a bit and figure out who I was and what I wanted to be. This record is about shutting the party down and going back to your room to go and grow the fuck up. Sonically I was influenced a lot by 70s progressive rock and ZZ Top.
AMBY: If you had to pick one track off the record that best summarizes what you were hoping to achieve, which track would you pick and why?
Nicole Atkins: “Gasoline Bride” It was a song I wrote rather quickly that made a bridge between the rock disco feel and the prog psych feel on the album. And lyrically it was about burning down your past and turning into who you were meant to be. It paints a picture of the entire record in one song.
AMBY: What is the significance behind the LP’s title Slow Phaser?
Nicole Atkins: We were putting a Slow Phaser effect on the song “What Do You Know,” and I thought the phrase made a great and fitting album title. Theres lots of slow phaser in the songs and I’m a slow phaser, a late bloomer if you will.
AMBY: How do you feel you’ve evolved as a songwriter since the release of your 2011 album Mondo Amore?
Nicole Atkins: I feel like I’m becoming a better and more confident writer as I’m getting older. More experience and less fear.
AMBY: Who would your dream concert line-up be with?
Nicole Atkins: My band playing along with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Led Zeppelin, Queens of the Stoneage, Mark Lanegan, Prince, Roy Orbison and Frank Sinatra and his Orchestra.
AMBY: What are some of your favourite things to do outside of music?
Nicole Atkins: I like to draw comics and hang out on the boardwalk and play skeeball. I also like to read and hang out with beagles.
AMBY: Which bands or artists have you been listening to lately?
Nicole Atkins: Beta Band, Krisma, King Crimson, Django Django, and Jim Jones Review.
AMBY: What has you most excited for 2014?
Nicole Atkins: This tour that we’re on right now! Being able to play SLow Phaser live with my good friends in my band.
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about Nicole Atkins that nobody knows yet?
Nicole Atkins: I do an amazing Michael Keaton impression!
Thank you Nicole Atkins, for giving us your answers!
Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout