January 21, 2010
Amy Petty Interview
This week we welcome songstress Amy Petty to the stage! Her sound is an intricate combination of pop, rock, and folk harmonies. Compared to greats like Joni Mitchell and Sarah McLachlan, she has a rich voice that is said to melt any heart.
Check out her interview below.
1. How do you think growing up around classic rock the way you did influenced your musical direction?
All I ever knew was that I was going to be a singer. My dad loved the music of Yes, Queen, ELO…all of those symphonic rock bands from the 70’s. He LOVED good vocals. While he wasn’t a musician, he taught me how to listen to music, how to listen for blend, harmonies, nuance. I learned to appreciate what I was hearing. I think I could have gone just about any direction in music but I don’t think anyone is surprised that I ended up being a singer/songwriter, specializing in layered vocals!
2. Your musical credentials are impressive; you’re classically trained and have performed lead in several operas. Did you ever have a desire take your musical career in that direction or did you always see classical training as a way to improve the type of music you perform now?
I had every intention of pursuing a career as an opera singer. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in Classical Voice, I moved to Philadelphia to attend a post-graduate opera program. I love opera and classical music, but something about becoming a strictly classical singer didn’t sit right in my spirit. I realized that, by only singing classical music, there was so much of my musicianship that was going unused. It was an incredible opportunity, but I left the program with no plan as to what I was going to do next. I started pursuing my career as a singer/songwriter a few years later.
My classical training has helped shape my songwriting and performing style, but I always assumed I would be wearing Viking horns instead of a guitar…but as it turns out, a guitar suits me much better.
3. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
I learned how to play piano and guitar by listening to Tori Amos, Rush, the Indigo Girls and 10,000 Maniacs and trying to play every note by ear. Classical music (especially Romantic-era opera and music in the Minimalist style) has a huge influence on my writing. I think of myself more as a composer than a songwriter. When I was 11, I remember recognizing the pure genius of U2 when they released The Joshua Tree. I knew that they were as significant to my generation as The Beatles had been to theirs. And of course, all of the great music from the 70’s that blared full blast on Sunday afternoons at my house.
4. At some point you relocated from Michigan to New Hampshire. Was the move related to your music career? Do you feel more musically at home in New England?
The move to NH was so we could be closer to my husband’s family. That move took place between my musical eras, so the only music scene I really know is New England. I can’t imagine getting my start as a singer/songwriter anywhere else in the world. New Hampshire has been so awesome, supporting my every musical move. And I’m close enough to Boston and Portland, ME to delve into their rich music scenes. I’m trying to build my fan base across the country, but New England is a great place to come home to.
5. You started out 2009 with a new release, Mystery Keeps You. Are you pleased with how the record turned out and how it was received?
I LOVE MY RECORD! I wouldn’t change one thing about it. I had no idea how it would be received, and I certainly had no idea how to make a record that would be well received by the masses. The only thing I knew to do was to make one that I loved. It seems to have paid off! It still boggles my mind when someone tells me that one of my songs speaks into and about their own life. There is no higher compliment!
6. 2010 is shaping up to be a big year for you. Any gigs on the horizon that you’re particularly excited about?
Just in the first 2 weeks of 2010, I played my first show at Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH and my first show at Club Passim Cambridge, MA, two of the most prestigious venues in the northeast. I’ll be playing my first show in NYC at The Bitter End on February 7th and I’ll be at The Me & Thee Coffeehouse in May. It’s pretty exciting!
7. Your songs lend themselves to being performed alone with an acoustic guitar or with a larger band. Which do you prefer for live shows?
I love that my songs can be performed either way, but right now, I think I prefer playing solo shows. Generally, I think the musical hierarchy for my songs is melody, lyrics, harmonies, chord progression. Playing solo tends to let the main things shine. I also use a loop pedal for some of my songs. I get to show my audience how I build songs vertically as well as horizontally.
8. Many of your songs are built around introspective lyrics. What types of things inspire you to write?
I’m always drawn to emotions that can’t be defined using words alone. Heartbreak, yearning, spirituality and risk are complex things that appear to change in different light. Heartbreak can be satisfying, risk can be comforting. Most of my songs are based on epiphanies about my life and relationships.
9. Any plans to work on a follow up to Mystery Keeps You? If so, what is the new material like?
I’m about a third of the way into recording the next album! I don’t have a clear view of what the album will look like but so far, the songs are a little more narrative but just as introspective. I would love to try something different with a few of the new songs, maybe strings, bagpipes, just voice and percussion…or no instruments. The new album is due out later this year.
10. Where can people go for more information about where to see you live?
You can visit my website or my myspace page. Follow me on Twitter (@amypetty) and Facebook!
Thanks for joining us, Amy, and have fun in NYC!
If you’re in the Northeast, you definitely need to check this lady out live. And we’ll be keeping our ears open for news of her upcoming album.
Posted by A. Sogal at 7:26 am