Stranger in the Carolinas: A chat with Phoebe Bridgers

Photo by Frank Ockenfels

Prior to her shows here in state this Friday & Saturday, Phoebe Bridgers was kind enough to speak with me via email about her first full US headlining tour, insight gained from growing up in LA, and getting to collaborate with her heroes & contemporaries alike.

Hey Phoebe! This is Jarrod Hayslette with The Oddboy Collective. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us before your North Carolina shows here next week! How are you doing today?

Doing great! I’m currently in the tour van revisiting some Oasis.

So you’re about to embark on your very first headlining tour of North America, the oh-so aptly named “Farewell Tour”. What are you looking forward to the most about these shows?

I think the whole band is looking forward to seeing Harrison’s dog, Elvis, who lives in Nashville.

To say it’s been a whirlwind year for you might be a bit of an understatement. How has all the praise and positive feedback made you feel in relation to Stranger in the Alps being released into the world?

It’s been surreal to see the record connecting with people. I’m really excited about making another one in the future.

You are a born and raised Californian, and you still call Los Angeles home today. What have you found unique about your experiences growing up in such a bustling metropolis?

I think in LA you can sort of custom build your own universe. Whatever you’re into, you’re going to find other people who are naturally attracted to the same thing, which helps when you’re making music.

You had the pleasure of recording with Ryan Adams a few years ago, releasing your debut EP via his label Pax-Am. What was it like to find out that not only was Ryan a fan of your songs, but that he wanted to help facilitate their capture and release?

I don’t think in the moment I really had time to process or think about any of that. I met Ryan and played him some of my songs and we recorded the very next day, so it was all very much a shoot from the hip situation. I’ve been really lucky when it comes to being surrounded by talented people.

You signed with Dead Oceans last summer, the label that you released your LP thru this past September. What made it clear for you they were the right home for your art moving forward?

I made the album on spec, meaning everyone who worked on it worked for free, just hoping I would get signed and they’d get paid eventually. I didn’t want to sign a deal before I made the album because I didn’t even know what I wanted it to sound like yet, so how could anyone know they liked it? When we finished, Dead Oceans essentially bought it. I signed with them because they clearly got what I was trying to do.

Photo by Frank Ockenfels

Growing up in the shadow of Hollywood, I imagine it might be harder for you to become star struck than most. Have you had a “pinch me” moment at some point on your musical journey?

Every time I meet anyone I’m a fan of recently. It’s always great to meet the people who make my favorite music. I had Soccer Mommy’s EP on repeat for weeks before I met the band, they are amazing. I got to open for John Doe and Exene at a show a couple weekends ago in Los Angeles, that was amazing.

Of the songs on Stranger in the Alps, do you have a personal favorite? And if it’s different, which song do you enjoy playing the most live?

I think my favorite is Smoke Signals. It really encapsulates the album for me, and the production is something I’ll definitely try and emulate in future recordings. Motion Sickness is my favorite to play live, because people dance, which is very rare at my shows.

Your headliner will be stopping in Asheville, NC on Friday, February 16th, and in Raleigh the following night, Saturday the 17th. Have you ever been to North Carolina before, and more specifically, have you ever had Cheerwine?

I love Asheville, but I’ve never been anywhere else in NC. I like the double decker bus coffee shop there. Up until this very minute, I thought Cheerwine was a place. So I am stoked to try it!

Before I let you go, is there any idea or sentiment you’d like to leave readers with to approaching the year ahead of us all, 2018?

I’d say keep your chin up. And register to vote.

Phoebe will be performing at The Mothlight in Asheville this Friday evening and at King’s in Raleigh this Saturday evening, both of which as of press time Tuesday are sold out.

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