JoAnna: Hey Jess
i've been trying to think of things to ask you
they just want us to talk about anything i believe
JoAnna: you aren't going to ask me about
definitely won't ask about bathtubs
when did you start playing music?
JoAnna: when I was about 7 years old, I started playing a violin my grandpa got
me for 100 bucks from a nun in mankato.
Then when i was a freshman, I began to play guitar and was convinced I'd be in
Guitar World someday for my rendition of Jimi Hendrix's 'Little Wing'
...that didn't work out so well, though...
Jess: the intro to little wing was about the height of my guitar playing
i really never got past that
JoAnna: me neither...
Jess: are there a lot of nuns in mankato?
that you know of?
JoAnna: yes, TONS of NUNS!
Jess: a convent?
JoAnna: No, just lots of Catholics
Jess: i like the idea of a convent being a unit of measurement: a convent's
worth of nuns
though there apparently is not one in mankato
JoAnna: There probably is one...but sinners like me ain't allowed near.
Jess: how did you get into song writing?
did you first want to learn things like little wing
or were you always thinking it would be something you did in terms of creating
your own things?
JoAnna: Good question. I got into songwriting because I love pain.
Jess: i would say that's why i started writing as well
that and it feels very good when it works out
JoAnna: There's just nothing else like it, and it's the most universal of human
experiences. I like getting inside of it, getting to the core, and then
Writing can be some of the best therapy available.
Jess: i agree
and a cause for much anxiety
what is your creative process like?
JoAnna: it don't involve no ibuprofen that's for sure.
Jess: what comes first?
JoAnna: Melodies and guitar parts usually come first...after some sort of
Jess: do you feel like the melody is paramount to the lyrics? vice-versa?
JoAnna: Words are slow to arrive, if at all...that's why I very much enjoy
Jess: I guess I'm wondering if you have to sacrifice one of them, which would it
words i'm guessing
yeah i think lyrics are so hard to write
JoAnna: They definitely reflect each other. The trick is to not have them be too
obvious a reflection
Jess: do you ever feel demeaned, as a songwriter, by people complimenting a
songwriter by calling them a poet?
like "bob dylan is such a poet"
JoAnna: no, because music is just poetry in motion baby, sonic motion
i'm interested in what you said before
so music suggests a mood and the mood suggests lyrics and you try consciously to
keep the lyrics from containing too obvious a suggestion?
from the music
does that make sense?
put another way: are you looking for friction in your songs?
what would you say you look to portray through your songs?
JoAnna: I would say I look to portray a story within my voice. For instance, you
can sing a word like "love" and have it mean so many completely different
things all in the context of how exactly you sing it, play it and write around
JoAnna: The way phrases are sung is the thing I understand best about music
not necessarily the words or the melodies, but the ways in which they are
like if Otis Redding sang "twinkle twinkle little star"...
i would love to hear that
JoAnna: I'd be on the floor from a heart attack
because his voice would be telling more than the words
Jess: do you think that your vocal performance changes from show to record to
show depending on your mood?
and how many takes do you do of a song in the studio?
how do you know if it's acceptable?
I'm really curious about recording
JoAnna: I do think it changes. so much of what happens during a performance of a
song--whether live or in the studio--is dependent upon the energy of the room.
Thus, in the studio--unless you have some sort of live studio audience like SNL
or something--it's very difficult to find that energy. That's why I find it
extremely challenging to capture certain magical things in the studio--the
audience is so crucial to how I perform
Jess: is performance your favorite part of the job?
JoAnna: Yes. I think the reason being is music is an interaction. Soul to soul,
Jess: yeah definitely
i love going to shows
especially when the people playing love to perform
JoAnna: Back to to the studio questions,
I generally don't do more than 3-5 takes of a song. I find after that many
takes, you've either nailed it or killed it
Jess: haha ok
JoAnna: and sometimes you have to go back to certain songs at a different time
it's that energy factor again
JoAnna: So much of this business is based on intuition and doing things when
they feel right
a good performance can never be fabricated or forced.
It involves much patience
it has to happen naturally