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LAist Interview with Brandi Shearer

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Catching Brandi Shearer's sultry voice live would be a great way to enjoy your holiday weekend. LAist caught her last show at Hotel Cafe and was humming her tunes and listening to her album for days. This time around, LAist had the opportunity to catch up with Brandi and get to know a little bit more about what makes her sounds so unique, what it's like being signed to Amoeba Records and how living in Eastern Europe for years affected her sound.

Brandi is making the rounds in Los Angeles this Saturday performing at both Amoeba Records at 2pm and at Tangeir at 9pm.

You¹ve come a long way since your early days growing up on a farm in rural Oregon. Is there anything you miss about living in a small town?

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Easy parking, for starters. Seeing the stars. Frogs.

You lived and traveled extensively in Europe while developing as a musician. How did those experiences shape your style of music and also your songwriting?

I was exposed to lots of music that I never heard in the States. Lots of
American jazz and blues that has really become part of the European musical
lexicon. I felt pretty embarrassed that a group of teenage Hungarians knew
more about the jazz age than I did.

Also, the element of homesickness often spurs you into producing material. I
think I wrote a song called, ³Lord Please Grant Me A Taco of Any Variety, I
Want One So Bad² but it really never made it passed the planning stages.
There¹s just no future in writing songs about tacos.

Most people who have traveled in Eastern Europe have had a few crazy
encounters or stories that you just never get tired of telling. Can you
share one of those with us now?

I would, but honestly, I¹m tired of telling it. All you need to know is
dancing bears, a dimly lit Cuban restaurant, and an AK-47.

You¹ve now signed with Amoeba Records and are one of the first two
artists they have upcoming releases with, along with Gram Parsons. How did
this relationship develop?

One of those chance meetings that you hear about on ³Behind the Music² . . .
. underground nightclub, struggling singer, and the lucky and unlikely
attendance of a label owner.

Café Du Nord comes up a lot in reference to your career and you play
there often. What do you like most about that venue and is there anywhere in
Los Angeles that reminds you of it?

I¹ve only played the du Nord a handful of times, actually. I suppose it¹s
notable because that¹s where I met Amoeba. It¹s a nice club, though ­ really
smart, capable staff, excellent hamburgers, good sound.

Los Angeles really has its own brand of nightclub, just like New York does.
They are venues onto themselves.

Amoeba is well-known and respected in San Francisco and Los Angeles for
their live in-store performance, extensive collections and just being one of
the last places to chill while you¹re looking for new music. Yet, they are
just beginning to have a record label, did this make you nervous at all?

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Not once. It¹s always better to be on the ground floor of something great,
and in an age when music has become a very numbers oriented business, it¹s a
relief to find a company with heart that wants to foster your career,
nurture it and let it grow instead of dropping you in those delicate early
stages if you don¹t produce a number one single your first time out.

Some musicians have rituals or certain practices they do before they
perform, is there anything you do to put you in the right frame of mind to
get on stage?

If I¹m feeling particularly nervous, I watch clips from Hedwig and the Angry
Inch on YouTube. Otherwise, I find pre-performance rituals pretty
exhausting. What if you fuck it up, or don¹t have the right
perfume/earrings/microphone/magic talisman? You¹re doomed. I¹m just not
prepared for that level of responsibility. It¹s a miracle if I make it to
the show wearing something that doesn¹t have a hole in it.

You performed at SXSW this past year, how was that?

I¹ve been at SXSW two years running, and it¹s a madhouse. It feels like
constant hard work. I don¹t get galvanized the way other musicians do at
that festival ­ I just feel like someone spent four days beating me with a
2x4.

Traveling on the road can be hard. Is there anything you take with you
when you¹re on tour that makes you feel more at home?

My MacBook, without which I would be unable to check my email . . . and if
you can¹t check your email, surely death is right around the corner.

What can we look forward to from you next?

A new, wicked sounding album sometime in 2008. And also, I¹m learning to
make cheese at home and will certainly be offering samples.