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Interview: Juliette Commagere Talks Keytars and Her Debut Solo Album, 'Queens Die Proudly'

Juliette Commagere
Juliette Commagere
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Up to this point, Juliette Commagere has been best known as the keytar-playing frontwoman of the band Hello Stranger, which has opened for everyone from the Foo Fighters to Kings of Leon. And although Queens Die Proudly is her first solo outing, she's still surrounded by friends and family in this effort—including guest performances by legendary slide guitarist Ry Cooder, his son (and Commagere's high school sweetheart) Joachim Cooder, and her siblings, Robert Francis and Carla Commagere. LAist sat down with Commagere for dinner at Oaxacan restaurant Monte Alban to learn about the new record, how she's bringing the keytar back and the process of creating an orchestra via Craiglist.

LAist: Given that your dad worked as a classical music producer and your house contained 30,000+ vinyl records, did you ever go through a period where you rebelled against the classics?

Juliette Commagere: I think that I was the only child who kind of embraced it. I mean, we all play music, but I was the only one who really stuck with my piano lessons and—I sound like the biggest nerd—but I've always loved playing classical music on the piano.

Who is your favorite classical composer?

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Probably Chopin when I was growing up, then Brahms and Debussy as I got older. The melodies of a lot of those Romantic composers are essentially hit songs. It was definitely a big part of my upbringing, and when I was little, one of my favorite memories from my childhood was falling asleep listening to my dad play the piano. He would play every day. It probably made a bigger impact than I realized.

Juliette Commagere - "Hearts"