Brandi Carlile Channels Many Styles To Make Her Music

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Seattle singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry.

"Little Jimmy Dickens and Minnie Pearl were like the King and Queen of the mother ship to me," she told Here & Now's Robin Young

Later, Carlile fell in love with the sounds of Elton John, The Beatles and U2. Carlile is also inspired by three-part harmonies, a love she shares with her close collaborators, twins Phil and Tim Hanseroth.

All of these influences can be heard on her latest album with the Hanseroth brothers, "The Firewatcher's Daughter."

Interview Highlights: Brandi Carlile

On the genre in which she defines her music

"When I was making 'The Story' with T Bone Burnett, I think in 2005, something like that, he told me that whenever somebody asks me what genre my music fits into, I should say rock and roll. And I don’t think I understood that at the time, but I understand it a lot more now, and so that’s the badge I hang on myself."

"At the time, I thought that he meant ‘everything’s rock,’ and it’s taken me years to realize that rock and roll is more of like a risk and the absence of affectation than it is a genre, and so that’s kind of the department I want to be in, if there is such a thing."

"It’s taken me years to realize that rock and roll is more of like a risk and the absence of affectation than it is a genre."

On working with the Hanseroth brothers

"When I met the twins, we sort of bonded and fell in love based on our mutual love of three-part harmony, and how uncool it was in Seattle at the time to love three-part harmony. And we sort of felt like these secret defector type people, sitting in my living room singing Beach Boys and Beatles refrains and stuff. So that was the first thing that I loved about playing music with those guys, and I feel like we finally realized it on this record."

On how being married and becoming a mother has changed her music

"I mean it’s just absolutely molecular at this point. It becomes who you are and once you have that established there’s more freedom creatively than I ever thought there would be. I was, in fact, really quite worried about my happiness and contentment. I was afraid that it would mean that I wouldn't be able to derive any substance or pain to make great music or great art. And I was talking with Tim Hanseroth - he’s been married for a little longer than me - and were sitting around talking about it, and he says, ‘you know you can do everything better when you’re happy in life.’ He says, ‘you can even write sad songs better.’ And I was like, that is really true because you're able to sort of transcend your experience."


This segment aired on May 5, 2015.


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