The Wild Reed's special countdown to the release of Buffy Sainte-Marie's new album, Medicine Songs, continues with the sharing of excerpts from an interview that the legendary singer-songwriter, activist, and humanitarian did when she visited the Roland Inspiration Centre in Toronto earlier this year.
NOTE: For the first installment of this series, click here.
What were some of your earliest musical influences?
Tchaikovsky, anything that was on the radio, music from India, flamenco and Edith Piaf, and 50s rockabilly/R&B – Elvis, Fats, Chuck, Buddy, Scotty Moore, Dr John, Miles Davis.
Do you find that living in Hawaii is helpful for you creatively?
No. I’m creative anywhere, and being in Hawaii is actually a huge career sacrifice, if you’re into careers. Unless you’re playing covers at hotels, there are few places to play here, and local musicians have it rough. Also it adds another 6-7 hours and thousands of bucks to anywhere you’re trying to go, and you’re all beat up by the time you get to the concert, living on jet lag. In Europe, you’re twelve hours off.
On the good side, living on a farm in the middle of nowhere does save my life as a human being which, in the long run, does contribute to my whole health and attitude, including all things creative. I like it both ways and it’s all creative. To pull back from the lights-camera-action of a hot tour and go invisible is what I like best.
Power in the Blood is a very diverse album and there’s a lot of electronic elements and you’ve done some very influential work with synths in the past. Do you think you’ll continue to explore more electronically-centered music?
I kinda got over electronic music in the '60s and '70s. Illuminations and film scores were very satisfying. There were no Apple loops or cut and paste unless you used Scotch tape and scissors (which we did, no kidding). Back then there was a sense of giving audiences something very unique and original. Now that it’s become a formula genre, I find it less interesting just by virtue of so much sameness. However, it is fun and I hope that I and others will continue to discover music among the wacky worlds of frequency and amplitude.
What are you working on right now?
I just came back from Australia where I took my new JUNO-DS keyboard for her maiden voyage and we both had a great time doing solo concerts at the wonderful Woodford Folk Festival. The month before I’d been home, working on a new song called “The War Racket,” using my new Roland JUNO-DS. Switching over to the new keyboard was real easy as they’re quite similar, and all my old songs did fine with the new keyboard. Also your instructional videos are great. Just detailed enough, but still brief and clear.
Right now I’m getting ready to record “The War Racket” at home. I plan to include it on an upcoming album called Medicine Songs. Out some time this spring I hope.
To read Buffy's interview with the Roland Inspiration Centre in its entirety, click here.
Above: Buffy with Lyle Crilly of the Roland Inspiration Centre.
For The Wild Reed's special series of posts leading-up to the May 12, 2015 release of Buffy's most recent album, Power in the Blood, see:
• Buffy Sainte-Marie and That "Human-Being Magic"
• Buffy Sainte-Marie's Lesson from the Cutting Edge: "Go Where You Must to Grow"
• Buffy Sainte-Marie: "Sometimes You Have to Be Content to Plant Good Seeds and Be Patient"
• Buffy Sainte-Marie's Power in the Blood
For more of Buffy Sainte-Marie at The Wild Reed, see:
• For Acclaimed Songwriter, Activist and Humanitarian Buffy Sainte-Marie, the World is Always Ripening
• A Music Legend Visits the North Country: Buffy Sainte-Marie in Minnesota and Wisconsin – August 2016
• Two Exceptional Singers Take a Chance on the "Spirit of the Wind"
• Photo of the Day – January 21, 2017
• Buffy Sainte-Marie Wins 2015 Polaris Music Prize
• Congratulations, Buffy
• Happy Birthday, Buffy!
• Actually, There's No Question About It
• For Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Well-Deserved Honor
• Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
• Buffy Sainte-Marie: Still Singing with Spirit, Joy, and Passion
• Something Special for Indigenous Peoples Day
• Buffy Sainte-Marie: "The Big Ones Get Away"