INTERVIEW: Esme Patterson
  • FRIDAY, JULY 08, 2016

  • Posted by: Susmita Paruchuri

After two years, Esme Patterson has come out with her third album, driving her music in a new direction. The singer, who was previously with indie-folk ensemble, Paper Birds, has moved from a folk genre into We Were Wild, which evokes a variety of different sounds from breezy pop to rock and roll. Since her collaboration with Austin-based artist, Shakey Graves -- which accrued over 15 million streams on Spotify-- Esme has secured appearances on Letterman, Conan, and Letto.

We were able to catch up with the artist to answer some of our burning questions while she tours the United States.



Coming off your last albums, your music has been labeled as feminist by many. How does that feel to you? Is it something you welcome?

While I identify as a feminist, I don't feel like the music I make is necessarily feminist music. In most of my songs I am writing from the point of view of a woman, and it seems that people confuse that with feminism, which is ironic, because the aim of feminism is to be regarded and treated equally. Songs written from the point of view of men aren't generally touted as masculine songs, they're just songs.

Feel Right is a song thats sonically a little more aggressive than your other music, was that out of your comfort zone? What was the inspiration behind that song?

There are a few tracks on the record that edge into a rock and roll, chaotic, louder soundscape, which doesn't feel to me like it's out of my comfort zone. To be honest, folk music always felt a little bit out of my comfort zone. I am more at home in chaos and passion than in melancholy and beauty. "Feel Right" was inspired by the balance of light and shadow, by my desire to turn pain into something I could use.

Im really interested in the albums cover art--on the version on your Facebook pages cover photo, it seems like the person holding the chain attached to your collar is a woman. Whats the significance of that?

In the album art, the chain is held by my own hand. That is the significance.

Woman to Woman seemed to have a clear overall theme--taking songs about women written by men and giving the women voices of their own--does We Were Wild also have a theme that unites the songs?

That is incorrect. That record is not an album of responses to songs by men. I responded to a song by Dolly Parton. It is not a women vs. men thing. The theme that ties We Were Wild together is all said by the cover image. It is about wilderness and domestication, about feeling like a wild animal in a civilized world, about feeling like I trapped and tamed myself, and in realizing that bondage I am freed from it.

What was the writing and recording process like for this album? I noticed it has less of a raw sound than your last album.

This album wasn't recorded live, as Woman to Woman was. It was a six-month recording process that was very painstaking.

Since moving from Denver to Portland, have you ever noticed that your geographic location has an effect on your music?

I feel like the geography of my immediate vicinity has a huge effect on my art. I am such a sponge to my surroundings. Whatever is around me always makes it into my songs, for better and for worse.

Youve been on the road for most of this year--when you're touring, do you tend to write music, or is writing something you find yourself having to sit down and focus on at home?

I am constantly writing, but it's hard to find the time and space on the road to complete an idea. I prefer to write a song when I'm alone and alone time is very precious on tour!

Catch Esme Patterson at one of her tour dates below.

Esme Patterson

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