lisa germano / magic neighbor reviewGermano took some time to talk about the new album, her new home at Young God Records and her time away from music.
Innocent Words Magazine
Looking for inspiration - Lisa Germano releases hallmark album Magic
Last Updated 10/25/2009 8:27:24 PM
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By: Troy Michael
On her latest release, Magic Neighbor, the sticker on the outside of the CD
states that Lisa Germano is “the queen of heartache and dreamy bliss.”
She is so much more than those few adjectives.
Lisa Germano was born into a big family in Mishawaka, Ind., in the late
1950s. Along with her siblings, she was encouraged by her parents to play an
instrument. She took their advice a bit further than expected when she wrote
her first piece of music – a 15-minute piano opera at age seven.
Germano, who spent seven years as John Mellencamp’s violinist and also
played alongside such luminaries as Neil Finn, David Bowie, and Iggy Pop,
has had an erratic journey through the music industry. At one point, she
left the business all together and worked at a bookstore in Hollywood.
Despite label woes over her solo career, Germano continued to create her
special blend of lo-fi poetic music with its idiosyncratic twists and turns
using unconventional instrumentation.
Now, the beautifully talented multi-instrumentalist has released her 10th
solo record, Magic Neighbor, her second on Young God Records. Germano took
some time to talk about the new album, her new home at Young God Records and
her time away from music.
Innocent Words: It’s been three years since your last record, what have you
been up to?
Lisa Germano: Well I’ve been trying to find some options for making a
living. I finally got a job at Whole Foods because I do feel their main
goals are good and important. Although, I found not too many people who
worked at least at the one I did shared these goals, so it was a kind of
crappy store and frustrating. So now, I’m looking again for something. Oh,
but I did do a great project with Neil Finn and 7 Worlds Collide. We made a
record for Oxfam, and it has a lot of good people and songs on it.
IW: There seems to always be talk about your hiatus from music. Is there a
reason for the self-imposed exile?
Germano: I don't really see how me taking time to make records or
considering doing other things with my life means quite this. I never know
why people “talk” about this as if it is some big deal. If I'm not writing
anything that turns me on, I take a break instead of trying to keep making
record after record of stuff I don't really think relates emotionally. There
is nothing wrong with that, but my music just doesn't work that way for some
IW: Magic Neighbor is your second release (third counting the re-release)
with Young God. After having so much label trouble before, does Young God
finally feel like a home for your music?
Germano: I love working with Michael Gira [owner of Young God]. He gives me
great inspiration to finish my work and very good arrangement, sound, song,
art ideas for me to consider, and I am proud of the records we put out. All
labels are in flux; it's a difficult time to put records out, and I
appreciate that Michael goes forward with actual CDs, LPs with beautiful
artwork. I hate the digital music. It loses a lot of soul to not have a
whole piece of work to hold, see and hear.
IW: How would you say this album differs from your last one - In the Maybe
Germano: This record is different for me because I didn't record anything.
It was all done at my friend Jamie Candiloro's house. The song on Maybe
World called “Waving” we did at the last minute this way, and I really liked
how fresh it sounded, even though I miss playing around at home and coloring
my songs there. I wanted to take off from “Waving” and do it all at Jamie’s.
So anyway, I just recorded songs without any real idea of arrangement and
then had Sebastian Steinberg put down some bass, Greg Leisz some pedal
steel, and I just made up my strings and other things on the fly. I think it
does have a daytime, fresh sound compared to my others.
IW: I’ve always been curious, as a long-time fan, why you put instrumentals
on your albums, for example, on this one “Kitty Train” and “Marypan.” Were
those intended to be full songs with vocals that stalled, or did you mean
for them to be instrumentals?
Germano: They are instrumentals. I think it's a nice break from so much
information in words.
IW: The song “Suli-mon” is my favorite track on the album. Can you tell me a
little about that? It’s kind of hard to understand the lyrics.
Germano: “Suli-mon” is a strange one, but I like it, too. There are no
lyrics except an occasional “tuna in my bowl” toward the end. It's a song to
my cat Lou, the mighty one who died of cancer last year. I and my friend
Sebastian used to make up names for him, like Suli-mon was one of his
personalities that were very serious with a long beard that would go all
along the floor, and just the very end would come to a point and be under
the door, so you could see it when you came home. So, I had this silly
melody that reminded me of this personality and then used my voice for two
different reasons. One for comfort, nice sounds in reverb and all, and then
the other a conversation in cat tongue… ”tuna in my bowl' is always on their
IW: For a person who has never heard your music, how would you describe it?
Germano: I never know how to actually; you guys do it a lot better. I
sometimes learn a lot about my music by what people write about it, or when
they write me and tell me how they feel.