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21 décembre 2008

INTERVIEW: Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond

Dianca Potts,, 12/12/08
Shara Worden

Matt Wingall |

My Brightest Diamond
plays Philly, Dec. 12, at the First Unitarian Church. Dianca Potts talked to frontwoman Shara Worden about what song she can’t play live, bizarre/amazing towns in Colorado, her upcoming collaboration with The Decemberists and what she typically buys at Target.

City Paper: Your second full-length, A Thousand Shark’s Teeth, was released this past summer. In what ways is it different from the material on your debut, Bring Me the Workhorse?

Shara Worden: The records were made about the same time … well actually, they were started at the same time and didn’t finish at the same time, but they were an experiment in one way of trying to bring strings and drums together. [On] Bring Me The Workhorse, the strings took a step down, got put in the background a lot more than they did in the orchestration on Shark’s Teeth, so it was a way of trying to negotiate this relationship between the dynamic range and kind of flexibility that you have in classical music with the more traditional orchestration.

CP: What were some of your inspirations for this album?

SW: Alice [in Wonderland] was very influential, and Peter Gabriel was another one. …

Visually, the German installation artist Anselm Kiefer was very key for me. I read a lot of his interviews and saw a couple of his exhibitions … he explores a lot of man’s desire to ascend to the heavens, and so I wrote a couple songs kind of based on that idea. He also employs ladders or sometimes staircases to indicate man’s desire to ascend. And so we used a lot of the ladders and big skies and charred black — you know, burned hells and the sea for the images for the photographs.

CP: What are some of your favorite tracks from Shark’s Teeth?

SW: I really love playing “From the Top of the World.” I enjoy that song a lot. I like all of them, but I think some of them don’t work very well live. Some of them, I feel like the last half of the record — or at least [closing track] “The Diamond” — every time I’ve tried to play it live, I’ve never liked it and I’ve cut it off the program. [It's] sort of ironic since that song named the band, but it just really doesn’t want to be played [live]. Yet, anyway.

CP: I know you did an EP that’s already released — the remixes for A Thousand Shark’s Teeth. I was wondering about the other two EPs I’ve heard about. What’s going on with them and what artists will be involved?

SW: David M. Stith is going to do a remix EP and also Sun Lux, who [remixed] “Inside A Boy.” David does all my artwork and he also sings on my records and he did a remix for “Tear it Down.” I just heard the Sun Lux ones this week and I’m so excited about them. They’re so beautiful. He just puts so much into these remixes. I do all of the arranging myself and it’s sort of my baby, [but] I have very little input in terms of the remixes and it’s really fun to separate yourself from your material. To hear the way someone else approaches it, it’s really refreshing and kind of gets me out of the boxes I have around myself.

CP: You guys have been on tour for awhile. Any fun stories to share?

SW: Story time, story time … what can I give you for story time? One of my favorite shows was in Paonia, Colorado, and it was this teeny-tiny little town. I think there’s 1,500 people in the whole town. There’s an 100-year-old movie theater and they brought us in … we didn’t really know what to expect ’cause when you pull into town, there’s the one little strip of Main Street and it’s definitely like a one-horse town. I went over to do something on the radio and they had a fantastic radio facility that was just amazing, and the people were so cool. They fed us an organic dinner that was all made locally by the owner. I think it was all [from] their farm, and they cooked us this amazing meal and we played the show and people were just dancing. It was like being with lettuce gnomes and little wood fairies. I mean these people were just so amazing.
After the show, there was this lady and she has this sort of parlor that felt like you were in a 1920s brothel or something — red velvet everywhere, with old-school naked lady pictures up. She had a bar with a café and then in the back. Everybody came over from the show and all the ladies of the town started dressing up in like antique lingerie and feather hats and feather boas. A bunch of us girls went into the secret stash of this lady’s old costumes and everything, and it was so special because you sort of make these assumptions about what a place is going to be like and these people were really very special. It was definitely one of the biggest highlights of the tour was sort of being there.

CP: You cover Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love.” What made you pick that?

SW: We started doing that a year ago or something when I was touring with The Decemberists. In the song “Workhorse,” the bass line goes “bomp bomp bo-de-de-de-da-de” and I was like, “Guys, look! This sounds like, ‘Bomp-bomp, Now I feel I’ve got to … bomp bomp.’ So we were like this flows directly from into “Tainted Love,” so we started breaking out the glowsticks, you know what I’m saying?

CP: What are your post-tour plans for My Brightest Diamond? What do you guys have planned?

SW: I’m going to sing on Lori Anderson’s record in January, so that’s going to be one of my big things. And I also sang on the new Decemberists record. It’s going to be like a rock opera — or it is a rock opera of sorts. Becky Stark from Lavender Diamond and I … I am playing the wicked queen figure.

CP: That’s awesome. Two diamonds.

SW: Yeah, totally. So the two diamond girls are going to join forces with The Decemberists — it’s like a 3-D affair. There’s [also] a compilation called Red, Hot and Indie, and I did a Nina Simone song for that, so that will be coming out next year, too. I’m really excited about [the plans] because it’s doing all stuff that’s sort of different for me. Since I’ve been in My Brightest Diamond layin’ so hardcore for awhile, it’ll be fun to kind of do some things with other people.

CP: Last question: What are your favorite things these days? Books, music, colors, foods, shapes, sizes … anything.

SW: Favorite things are made of glass and metal. I’ve just been collecting anything glass that sort of has pitch. I’ve been buying candle holders at Target and hand-blown balls of glass that have pitches that sort of hum. My skull hoodie is also a favorite thing, and Limonata San Pellegrino.

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