FLYER Q&A: Tristen to perform Sept. 7 at Stage Eighteen with Isaac Alexander

Courtesy photo

Nashville-based musician Tristen recently released her new record “Sneaker Waves,” and her debut book of poetry Saturnine.

“Sneaker Waves” was written and produced by Tristen (along with Buddy Hughen) and is gloriously reminiscent of 70’s rock and power pop. It’s a record overflowing with supremely confident and melodic songwriting. The record’s 11 songs are warm, layered, and lyrical. The song “Glass Jar” is one of my favorites of 2017, and might be Tristen’s best yet. Like all of her songs, it’s a comforting and life-affirming bubble that you want to hide inside.

Tristen begins her latest tour on Thursday, Sept. 7 at Stage Eighteen. Little Rock’s own Isaac Alexander opens the show, and just released his new record “Like A Sinking Stone” on Max Recordings. It’s also highly recommended!

I talked to Tristen on a break before tour and here it goes…

Who: Tristen / Isaac Alexander
When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7
Where: Stage Eighteen, 18 E Center St, Fayetteville
Cost: $10 in advance / $12 at the door
Info: See Facebook event page

You recently released “Sneaker Waves” and its a bit different from CAVES – What led to the new direction?
Every record is a new direction. For me, making a record is an opportunity to try new ideas. My husband and co-producer Buddy Hughen and I went into making this record with no concept. We wanted to do everything ourselves, and we wanted each song to decide how it would sound. We simply followed the feeling of the songs. We went in with 30 songs and recorded and mixed everything in our home studio.

How do you assemble songs for a record? Are they your newest songs or the songs that best fit into the story and sound?
I record every song to a point of almost completion and then I decide the best ones. From there, I begin to try to create a flow and picture with the songs that are really working. If at that point, something is missing, I might write a few more songs to complete the album. There aren’t really any rules, but I do know when things are done and when things need more work intuitively.

Your lyrics are very distinct and catchy – are you writing them as you’re writing the music? How much scrutiny is involved in crafting your words?
The idea is the jumping off point for the song. Sometimes the lyric and the melody happen at the same time as I’m hopping in the shower or driving down the highway. I capture that and try to expand. Sometimes I just ramble on in my journal about something that I’m thinking about and that becomes the lyrics. I try to rhyme. Songwriting is telling the truth and making it rhyme.

Can you enjoy listening to good music with bad lyrics? Or is it a deal breaker?
It’s a deal breaker for me. It’s pretty distracting. I don’t necessarily need a story, or a cohesive idea. Some lyrics are abstract and create only a feeling. I like that, too. It’s so incredibly subjective and based on why you are listening to music. We connect with lyrics that tell us something we want to hear or think about. And also, some people listen to music as a background for whatever they are doing. I am really involved when I listen to music; it takes my complete attention usually.

Your first book of poetry Saturnine was released before “Sneaker Waves” – who are the poets that have affected your writing the most?
When I read poetry I realize how big the shoes are that I’m trying to fill. I love Ferlinghetti, Sandburg, Bukowski, Adrienne Rich, Brautigan, Pasternak, Rilke to name a few.

What have you been reading lately?
I’ve been listening to Joseph Campbell lectures on Spotify. I’m really into mythology and what stories have transcended time and all religions. I have Taschen’s book of symbols and I’ve been thinking a lot about common symbols humanity has been fixated upon. My other favorite current author is Alain De Botton and I’ve been reading his canon on philosophers and how to apply the great ideas of thinkers from the past to cope with everyday living. He writes about love and relationships as well.

You’re about to begin a long tour. What do you look forward to when you stop in a new place?
I’m always looking for a great cup of coffee, a thrift store, and a used bookstore if I have time.

You’ve played Arkansas a few times. Can you share a story about our fine state?
I had a blast last year playing two shows at On the Map Festival. I learned from a local to call your fine city, Fayettechill.

You play on Thursday, Sept. 7. What can we expect at the show? Is there anything we can bring you?
Bring yourselves, bring your friends. I love flowers, chocolate, and coffee. You can expect a good time, some deep talks, some commiseration. I’m bringing my new record, so you can pick up a copy. Let’s party while we still can.

Tristen – Glass Jar

Isaac Alexander – Like a Sinking Stone