“Weather” Proves Less is More

Thursday, January 5, 2012 13:38

An Interview with Meshell Ndegeocello

by: Casey Pukl

Fearless. That’s the only word that comes to mind when thinking of Meshell Ndegeocello. There are few musicians out there that I perceive as truly being fearless. Ndegeocello is one of them. She’s unapologetic, honest, raw, and a damn good bass player and songwriter. It’s hard to listen to her and not feel like she knows you and you know her. From her early days of playing with David Bowie, Madonna, and John Cougar Mellencamp, Ndegeocello has come a long way. 9 studio albums into her successful career, her latest is perhaps her most accessible and daring release yet.

I truly cannot say enough good things about the singer/songwriter/bassist/rapper’s latest, Weather. The simplest release she has had by far stands in stark contrast to her previous albums and truly makes it shine. The album was produced by Grammy Award winner Joe Henry, and recorded in five days. Ndegeocello worked with jazz players on the record because she felt, “They have this ability not to be judgmental about music.” The result of this chemistry is 13 songs that have you soaking in luscious pop-driven sensibilities and wringing out raw emotion. The simplicity of the instrumental pieces perfectly complements the heart-wrenching vocals, and drives each song to place of pure and utter beauty.  In the second track, “Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear”, drummer Deantoni Parks’ groove lays it on thick and tight in the verse, and later opens into what might just be the perfect understated chorus. The cello, played by Gabe Noel, also seals the deal on this track for me.

I had the opportunity to conduct my first ever e-mail interview with Meshell this morning! I apologize for the lack of my usual “flow” here, but via e-mail it’s a little less of a conversation, and more of a list of questions and answers. Special thanks to Meshell for taking the time to answer these questions for us!

CP: Tell me about the latest album— any highlights for you while writing and recording?

MN: The highlights were playing with the people on the album. I am very lucky to be able to keep such good company. They are all inspiring and phenomenal musicians, and I am still uncovering all of their contributions when I hear the songs.

CP: Do you have a favorite track off the album?

MN: My favorite changes all the time. I like “Dirty World”. I love “Chance”. I like them all. I sometimes hate some by now, but I still like to hear them all— and play them all, more importantly.

CP: Who influences/inspires you lately?

MN: I’ve been listening to a lot of Nina Simone.

CP: How has technology changed the way you do business?

MN: I got signed because someone heard a cassette of my demos. Now I just send a link to a folder. It’s not all good, but I love the ways it lets me spend more time writing and less time talking.

CP: Has technology changed the way you write songs?

MN: It changes the way I record things, notes to myself on the iPhone, songs in Logic and ProTools. It doesn’t change the way I hear things, or how I arrive at melodies and music, but it changes how I get them out of my head.

CP: What are you most looking forward to about returning to Anthology?

MN: I like to visit San Diego, and I like to play smaller spots. I like to watch people listening.

Once again, special thanks to Meshell for her time! Don’t miss her show tonight, and be sure to pick up a copy of Weather if you haven’t already! Personally, I think it pairs well with a bottle of Malbec and a box of tissues. You can preview the album below on Spotify!

Meshell Ndegeocello: Weather

WHAT: Meshell Ndegeocello
WHEN: Thursday, January 5, 2012, 7:30pm
TICKETS: $13-$59 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile