lifeblood: listlogs: 2007v10n020-news

ig-news-digest         friday, march 23 2007         volume 10 : number 020

today's subjects:
  [ig-news] irish amy interview       [sherlyn koo <>]


date: thu, 22 mar 2007 19:23:16 +1100
from: sherlyn koo <>
subject: [ig-news] irish amy interview

hi everyone,

this is an article from gcn, an irish gay magazine.  you can read it online at:

it must be a little old though, because it was a month ago that the girls were
in ireland...

- -sherlyn

- ---begin forwarded article--

indigo girls

ever since amy ray and emily saliers, collectively known as the indigo girls,
burst forth on the world in 1987 with their album strange fire, they've been a
rare presence. in the intervening decades they've juggled songwriting, extensive
touring and solo careers and an indie label with a brand of radical activism
that would normally be a kiss of death in the music industry.

but then again, the indigo girls' outspoken political sensibilities appeal to a
core audience that just keeps on growing. both ray and saliers are lesbian and
from the outset they have courted a devoted following of similarly inclined
sisters. they may be a generation or two beyond today's younger lesbians, but
there isn't a baby dyke on the block who doesn't know who the indigo girls are.
and because ray and saliers keep on delivering the goods, they keep gaining new

the two got to know each other as children at elementary school in georgia and
started performing together when they went to high school as the b-band. they
subsequently split up to go to college, but homesickness got the better of both
and they returned to georgia to form the indigo girls.
the rest, as they say, is herstory. the success of strange fire led to a major
contract with epic records and a second album, indigo girls. the first single
from that album, closer to fine made them a household name and it won a grammy
for best contemporary folk recording 1990.

since then they've released nine critically acclaimed albums of original
material, one live album and one greatest hits compilation, and had raft of hit
singles. they have also championed gay rights, the rights of native americans,
environmental conservation and the abolishment the death penalty in certain us
states. last year they featured on p!nk's album, i'm not dead in the song, dear
mr. president, a pop-political statement to george w bush about poverty, queer
rights, and the right to education for all children.

p!nk returned the favour and appears on the girls latest album, despite our
differences, which goes back to indigo basics, interspersing folk ballads with
all-out rock 'n' roll, with a keen political and personal edge.

the duo are coming to ireland this month to perform tracks from the new release
along with some of their classic tunes, and amy ray, for one, is looking forward
to it. down the line from her home in georgia, she's a little quieter than you
might expect at first, taking her time to get into the swing of the interview.
but after a while she finds her own comfortable ground and starts sharing like
we're old buddies.

so, you're coming to dublin with your new tour. do you like playing here?

we've played in dublin quite a few times over the years and we always have a
good time. the audiences are great and we like hanging out and catching up with
friends we have there. it's just a really warm place to be.

you've been friends and performing partners since 1980. what's the secret of
your longevity?

i think a lot of it comes from the fact that we write our songs separately and
then come together to arrange them. this gives us that creative space so that we
always feel have a way to express ourselves artistically as individuals.
if we have differences of opinion or if we have anything that we feel might
interfere with that, we always remember that it's really precious and it's what
we want to be doing, and to protect it.

do you ever have any political disagreements?

not major ones. usually it's about things like lifestyle choices - the
difference between being vegetarian or not.
as far as the big political things go, though, we work together as activists on
certain issues and we feel very similar to each other on those things.

is your activism as important to you personally as your music is?

i think i would be an activist no matter what i was doing, so it's definitely as
important. but it's also important for us to keep our activism in its proper
i mean we don't spend the whole show talking about politics. sometimes we do
benefits for certain causes and that's what we're there for and that's what we
talk about. but other times it's just about the music. the activism might be
implied in the lyrics of the songs, but it's important to have a space to
celebrate and play too.

do you think it's the duty of celebrities to speak out if they have political

i don't. as a human being it is important to interact with your community and
engage and give back, to be involved. but i don't think there's a special
pressure on people who are in the limelight to do something big. i don't value
one artist above another just because they are politically outspoken.
emily and i have always been activists and we met some people very early on who
helped us create a few situations that have carried on for a long time. we've
been lucky because we get a lot out of it.

when the dixie chicks spoke out against george w bush, their career was damaged.
do you think this put pressure on other artists in america to keep quiet about
their political convictions?

i think in certain areas of music, yes. the dixie chicks existed in this very
pop-country radio arena and i definitely think that other people who work in
that area got scared and decided to back off.
people who owned labels or were managers were saying, 'oh, we've got to be
careful', but i think other groups, who weren't scared about the ramifications
on their careers, might have been encouraged to speak out more.

the dixie chicks were very inspiring. for the radio to go as far as they went,
pulling the song and inspiring this kind of witchunt was absurd to me. what
happened and what it meant inspired righteous indignation in a lot of people.

you worked with p!nk on her recent album. what was that experience like?

amazing. she's a great person and we were totally flattered when she asked us to
do it. she's a great artist and a really cool person. we had such a good time
that we asked her to come sing on our record.
she's one of the very few pop stars who actually try to make political points on
their records. she really addresses society, and i love that.

what's your opinion of george w bush's state of the union address?

[laughs] we were playing a show when he was delivering it, so i only saw
highlights. i feel like he's just walking this line, wanting to have some kind
of legacy. so he's feeling out what he should do domestically that might satisfy
some people.

but it's kind of a joke. it's very empty. he had a few guests there that he
pointed out, like, here's this guy who saved somebody's life on the subway.
every president does this, gets people from the real community, but it felt with
bush like it was kind of a parody and that he was just trying to do what someone
told him to do.

i think that they're delusional about iraq. i used to always want to listen when
he spoke about iraq, to see what's going on. but i can't even listen anymore.
it's so absurd and i think he's actually gone crazy.

are you a supporter of hillary clinton for the presidency?

i don't know. i like hillary clinton a lot, but i'm sort of a barack obama fan.
so i vacillate between those two. the dream ticket would be both of them, with
obama as vice-president.
this is definitely one election where i want to see a debate. i want to hear
what the different candidates have to say before i make any decision. i love
hillary clinton, but i don't know what her agenda is from a presidential point
of view. neither her nor obama have made any specific references to policy yet.

do you think that the indigo girls have been discriminated against in the music
industry because of your gender or you overt sexual orientation?

it's not anything that we let hold us back, but the media and radio are
extremely homophobic and sexist still, and they're anti-political too. so we
sort have everything going against us!
i think there are moments in our career when we would have done better if we
hadn't been so gay, or so political, but it's hard to quantify. i definitely
have felt it, but it's not something we let get us down. there are enough people
who don't feel that way.

i read that you prefer the term 'gay' to 'lesbian'. is that true?

i prefer the term 'queer' actually, because it's more encompassing. but i don't
have a negative feeling about the term 'lesbian'. a lot of people do though.
it's like this thing where there's a kind of backlash against saying 'lesbian'.
it seems to have all these negative connotations, for some reason i don't get.

you also describe yourself as butch. what do you think of these labels we give

i am butch! labels are important sometimes and not important at other times. i
just don't think people should be boxed in by them. i think we all to learn how
to articulate gender and sexuality and our different stands on those things -
what our identity is. when the world won't let you have an identity, you start
articulating it more specifically. those terms can be useful, but they're only
dangerous when you can't be anything other than that.
i don't believe you should label other people, but it's perfectly okay to label
yourself, if you feel comfortable with that.

what's your personal stance on gay marriage versus civil union or partnership?

i think people who want to get married should be able to get married. civil
unions are a halfway point, but marriage is something to work towards.

i don't think we should spend all our resources fighting for gay marriage,
though. there are such high suicide rates in the queer youth community, there's
such a lot of need for public health issues to be looked at, socio economic
issues, racism within the queer community... i don't want marriage to be the
only thing we talk about.

for me marriage is an institution that's tainted in so many ways, so sometimes
i'm like, who cares about gay marriage? let's create our own way of doing this
after getting the legal protections set up.

are you aware of katherine zappone and ann louise gilligan, the lesbian couple
who are bringing an appeal to the irish supreme court to have their canadian
marriage recognised here?

yes i am. i think they are pioneers and they are paving the way for other people
to have rights. i really applaud a couple that are willing to go through that.
it's pretty hard to stay together in the middle of all that controversy and to
keep on fighting.

have you ever considered having children?

carrie (schrader) and i have been together a long time, and we plan to have
kids. she's a film producer and she's really busy, so we plan to have them in
about three years.

who do you think is making the most interesting music right now?

there are so many great people, and when it gets into world music, it's just
mind-blowing. i listen to everything from hip-hop to folk, to spoken word. some
of the most interesting music i get is on demo tapes that people send to me,
that they made in their garage.

who is the most recent signing to your own label, daemon records?

the most recent thing was a box set from a man called utah phillips, who is an
anarchist, hobo folk singer. he's quite a bit older so he has a history. we put
together a box set of his stories and songs.
it's a very small label and we do left-of-centre stuff.

your last solo project was the album prom in 2004. are you working on more solo

i actually released a live record last month. it's out digitally on a site
called emusic. it's called amy ray and the volunteers: life in knoxville.

are the indigo girls going back in the studio soon?

we're touring with the new record at the moment, so it will be a while before we
go back into the studio. but we definitely plan to.

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