MP3 Pezzettino - Lion
"ethereal and haunting, bringing a fantastically different, textural sound to what is decidedly not what you would expect to hear coming out of an accordion" -American Indie
11 MP3 Songs in this album (37:12) !
Related styles: POP: Pop/Rock, ROCK: American Underground
People who are interested in Andrew Bird Regina Spektor Dresden Dolls should consider this download.
Pezzettino''s Margaret Stutt is a force of nature. Her music is ethereal and haunting, bringing a fantastically different, textural sound to what is decidedly not what you would expect to hear coming out of an accordion. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin based artist is an unexpected combination of grace and gravity, with a firm grasp on who she is and an engaging sense of humor; you want to be her friend, and you can''t help becoming a fan.
On songs like the plaintive, piano driven Territorial and the darker, more gritty Walk From Here, Pezzettino''s classically trained pianist shines like a beacon to the unbroken, a show of solidarity in survival. Entrenched in life and the living of it, Margaret Stutt has a lot to say. The world would do well to listen up.
You''ve got a lot going on this month! Tell us about your tour. What are some of the highlights and challenges?
It’s thrilling! I love driving, a chance to put life on time-out and collect my thoughts. New songs bubble up and I usually come off the road with a new sense of purpose and direction.
The hard part is feeling isolated from belonging everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I miss normal stuff that I usually take for granted, like cocooning in my comforter… or grabbing a bite to eat with a friend.
We are (sadly) not together for this interview, so set the scene for me. Where are you right now, and what are you doing as you prepare to ponder and answer my intense and probing questions?
I''m huddled in my car, hijacking some blessed soul''s internet. Now that winter is over, it''s not as bad using my car as an office. I''m about to make lemon poppy seed muffins to bring into the local radio station tomorrow morning for their fund drive!
You''ll be at Arlene''s Grocery in NYC at the end of the month, right? I really like shows there, and I''ve heard great things about playing there from a few different artists. Are there any venues that you''re really looking forward to playing?
Arlene''s Grocery is one of the first bigger venues that booked me, several months ago, so this show is pretty symbolic in my mind. The alphabet cannot contain my excitement about that, and working with The Pabst Theater back home in Milwaukee. Everything about it is fantastic- the architecture, the staff, the stage and sound system... A year ago, I never would have imagined that I''d be releasing my own music, nonetheless tour, so to be working with a venue that hosts my idols is truly a dream come true.
Your lyrics seem really vulnerable and honest. I recently read that your work is at least somewhat based on your personal life. Do you typically draw from personal experiences when you''re writing? Which tracks do you feel most represent that, and why?
It’s 100% autobiographical. Maybe I shouldn''t admit that… Each song is basically a letter to somebody, to express something that I don''t have the guts to say in "real life." I''m normally a pretty private person, and it’s very cathartic, spilling my guts to a group.
Let me tell you, it’s also cathartic to send these letter songs to the person they’re written about, but in the end it makes things REALLY INTENSE AND POTENTIALLY AWKWARD. Haha! I’m learning to either keep my mouth shut in real life, or to stand by the idea of “survival of the fittest.”
The hardest song for me to share off Lion is Proved You Wrong. I will never perform that one live. I feel uncomfortable listening to it, and even more so, talking about it. It’s just… it’s not pretty facing yourself as harboring bitterness. It’s not an emotion I’m proud of, but in this particular situation, it’s there like a crack in the wall. More than any song, the expression is an attempt to let it go.
You have a really beautiful, unique sound. How would you describe it?
Thank you! I''m still discovering what my "sound" is. So far I''ve been describing the music based on the albums. Lion is fierce, aggressive, and confrontational. Last year''s Because I Have No Control... is like unapologetically showing up for a date after jumping from a moving car, with skinned knees and messy hair. Next year''s Lamb is tender and vulnerable. The one after that is unnamed, but so far the songs seems to have this matter-of-factness about them, we''ll see where the sound goes! I''m an observer in this, the songs come out with their own personalities, sort of like pets or babies. I''m just a mother of many.
So you''re a classically trained pianist, but you picked up the accordion pretty recently, right? Can you tell us about your musical background, and what lead up to your decision to tackle an instrument like the accordion? What do you like about using it in your music?
We performed a rip-off version of Cinderella at school when I was six. Every day I’d teach myself the songs by ear on piano, and when my teacher caught wind, she had me perform daily in front of the grade. My parents took me to lessons at the local convent, where I trained for five years. I quit when the focus of playing was to compete and win gold medals.
It wasn''t until last year when music returned to my life. I was about to get married and felt uneasy about where my life was going, so I spent hours searching on Craigslist for nothing in particular. I responded to an "Indie band seeking drummer” post. My e-mail said something like, “I’m not a drummer, but uh... how about a piano player?” I sat on my hands during the first band practice, and at the very end, one of the guys tossed an accordion at me and said, "Here, play this, none of us knows how."
It didn’t make sense at the time- why I suddenly felt so compelled to join this no-name band. It was just a gut feeling. I’m very grateful for the circumstances that ushered the accordion into my life. It reconnected me with musical expression. There''s something about the amplified sound coming right off your chest... Songs started pouring out of me, and I feel very free now.
You''re a solo artist, but you were supported by a band on your new album, Lion. How did that differ from what you''ve done before? Are you touring with a band now?
The accordion is amazingly flexible- it has such a full sound, that it can easily carry its own. I’ve been touring solo, but am starting to bring the band to Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago. In due time, I’ll bring full support. For now though, it’s more sustainable to tour as a solo act.
It’s pretty convenient that the sound in my head for the first album was totally solo, because I didn’t know any other musicians that would comprise a so-called band! Because I Have No Control… is a lo-fi collection of private musings. It’s raw, a real window into that period in my life when the house of cards fell down and I was picking up the pieces.
Lion is the first professionally recorded and mastered album. It’s a totally magical process, bringing a group of people together to realize a sound that’s in your head. I’m very grateful for everyone that contributed to this project, who believed in the vision.
You released Lion on Record Store Day, and your next album, Lamb, will be released on Record Store Day 2010. Was that a strategic decision? What does Record Store Day mean to you, and what will it mean for your albums?
Actually, the only reason Lion was released on Record Store Day was because Neko Case was playing across town on April 24, and April 18th was the only other April date open at my venue. I was determined to have the release before May, when winter has not quite lifted and people are feeling “sick of it.”
But Record Store Day turned out to be fortuitous timing! I love collaborating with independent businesses, being independent myself.
What is your favorite song to perform live?
That’s hard, it depends on my mood, the venue, and the vibe I’m getting from the audience. Some days I really just need to perform certain songs for therapeutic reasons, or because I need to gush… other days I seek a conversation with the group… I try to feel out how people are responding, so we can all “be there for each other.”
Who are your inspirations as a musician?
Frida Kahlo and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Are there any bands or artists that you''d really like to work with?
I’ll pee my pants if I get the chance to work with Andrew Bird, Avett Brothers, Yann Tiersen, or Sufjan Stevens. Actually, the list of people I’d pee my pants for is quite extensive… Not that I ever pee my pants. I should find a new expression…
What''s on your playlist right now?
I really prefer silence most of the time. And since the Napster fall-out and graduating college, I stopped downloading music. So yeah. Lately, I’ve had the great luck of exchanging CD’s with other touring musicians. Some of my favorites are Horse in the Sea, Chris Koza, Juniper Tar, Brian Just, and Jentri Colello. But my dear friends have taken it as their personal mission to expose me to new stuff (luckily), and I’m a fan of Lykke Li and St. Vincent.
You have a vlog on YouTube, and I really love watching the stuff that you post. What made you decide to join the "vlogging revolution"? What do you like about doing it?
Jim Gaffigan vlogged to promote King Baby, and I thought it was a really fun idea. It was neat for me to see him in settings other than a stage… you know, as a real person. I also thought it was a brilliant way to get the word out, it’s more personal than the sterile text of a blog, and it doesn’t cost a dime.
I initially intended to vlog for two weeks before the Lion release, but it’s so much fun that I’m running with it. I love editing clips and making artistic summaries of a moment. As well as being able to SHOW people the things I’m seeing when I’m out there… it’s about sharing.
You also use MySpace and Twitter as vehicles to reach your audience. Do you feel that social media is important for independent artists? Where else can we find you online? Do you have any plans to expand your web presence?
Social media has been a godsend for me. With a “zero” budget, Myspace, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are welcome channels of communicating with people. I’m a member of other sites, but so far they don’t seem as active. I’ve heard of Tumblr but I haven’t checked it out yet…
An official “Pezzettino” website is in the works, but that’s like an office. Twitter, etc. is more like a street party… As far as I’m concerned, the more street parties, the better!
What are a few things that you want people to know about you?
Haha… um… I want people to know that I am very grateful for people listening to the sounds that come out of me. And I poop like every other person and animal out there.
And finally, what''s the next big thing for Pezzettino?
Supporting the release of Lion on The Witch is Dead national tour! Woohoo!
-- American Indie