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LAist Interview: Inara George

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Inara George is most easily categorized in that cliche-titled-yet-venerable tradition of the Singer-Songwriter — with Topanga native creds to boot. But her art isn’t that simple. Songs from her latest release, All Rise, are at times quiet, gentle, and sparse, while other moments create an intense richly lush melodic landscape that is very much steeped in local history and feeling. Inara is the kind of slightly ethereal artist most accessible to detractors of the genre, given that her gorgeous voice, song writing talents, and total real world sincerity are unmistakably engaging and original.

Be sure to experience Inara's artistry tonight at the final performance of her residency at The Echo. (10:30 PM, 21 and over, free. 1822 Sunset Blvd., (213) 413-8200)

Age and Occupation:

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31, Musician

Where in Los Angeles did you grow up, and where do you now live?

I grew up In Topanga Canyon and now live in Bronson Canyon.

Who are your primary influences?

That's always such a tough question. I don't really know. It always changes...I think everyone goes through different periods. So some of mine were Prince, Rickie Lee Jones, David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Nick Drake, Elliott Smith, P.J. Harvey.There are more, but that covers a lot of territory.

How did growing up in a very musical household in a unique community impact your decision to pursue your music, and how does it continue to influence your craft?

I suppose there was never any pressure from my family and friends to get a "real " job. Most of the people I grew up with are involved in some sort of artistic endeavor today. I don't know exactly how that affects my decision making process, but I certainly don't feel alone...I'm not a black sheep where I come from.

What other jobs have you had other than being a singer and songwriter?

Waitress, personal assistant, nanny...all the regulars.

Is it harder or easier to be a working musician in Los Angeles? Why?

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I don't have much experience with any other city. I lived in NYC and played music there, and I can say that lugging around gear on the subway isn't my cup of tea....although there are plenty of great things about playing music in NY.

As for LA, what's great about this city is that there are so many amazing players, songwriters, bands etc. It's challenging to be around so many talented people...and maybe that can be the hard thing as well...sometimes it's hard to get noticed.

Approximately how much time do you now spend on the road?

Since my record was released in January I'd say I've been on the road about 1-2 months total. That's not very much...although I'm about to do a month long tour in September with Idlewild, so that will definitely add some notches to my belt.

What do you like most and least about touring?

I like to play. I hate to drive.

Please share some other local bands and musicians that you're particularly fond of.

Mt. Egypt, Mike Andrews, John Gold, Becky Stark and the Lavender Diamond, Joe Kennedy.

Are you satisfied with the selection of local venues for you and other artists? What would you do to generally improve them? Do you have a particular favorite?

That is another great thing about LA. There are plenty of venues. I tend to stay close to my favorites. The Fold, The Echo has been really nice, Troubadour, I played at the Getty and that was really amazing...I felt like royalty, Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, which is the best kept secret in LA. It's an outdoor venue which is mostly used for theatrical productions, but they do a music series there in the summer and to play there is pretty magical (in keeping with the "Topanga" vibe).

What are some of your favorite songs about LA?

Not really just LA, but Joni Mitchell's "California" is pretty great. Rickie Lee Jones' first record is a great account of Los Angeles.

What's the best place to walk in LA?

I don't know really. Anywhere that's walkable. There are so few times that I find myself walking in this city that when I do it's a thrill.

Los Angeles is often stereotyped as a hard place to find personal connections and make friends. Do you agree with that assessment? Do find it challenging to make new friends here?

Not at all. But I am involved in such a specific scene, being the music scene. I find that I meet new people all the time. And really great people. And I suppose it doesn't hurt that I grew up here.

It's 9:30 PM on a Thursday. Where are you coming from and where are you going?

This past Thursday I was watching my friends show at 2100 Square Feet called the "Great Debate". "Revenge of the Nerds" -- A Barbaric Affront to Civilization or An Enlightening Morality Tale?. After we all went to Tom Bergin's for drinks and burgers.

If you could live in LA during any era, when would it be?

"Early Hollywood". My grandfather used to talk about how amazing it was to come to this city just as it was beginning to boom. How everything and everyone were so beautiful.

What is the "center" of LA to you?

Downtown. I think I'm old fashioned.

If you could live in any neighborhood or specific house in LA, where/ which would you choose?

There is a house in my neighborhood that some friends of mine own. It was built by Howard Hughes as a guest house for writers who would come into town for whatever reason. It's on the top of a hill that overlooks the city and the street you take to get to the house was once the driveway. It's an exquisite house with a lot of open space.

Where do you want to be when the Big One hits?

Probably in Topanga. Those mountains really act as a good buffer.