“I’ve been talking about doing a solo record for a long, long time, but finally it all came together. Over the course of the past year and a half or so I’ve finished the new songs; some of the songs on there have been around as long as, like, 15 years, and some for a handful of years, and then the rest of them are fairly new. So it kind of spans a bit of time,” she said. “But really, the album is very much me. It delves into a lot of serious topics, like religious zealotry and violence and guns, and then it goes to interpersonal relationships, and what’s love all about. So it’s very much the way that I explore life through music, but it’s produced in a way that’s different from Indigo Girls records. So I’m excited about it.”
She pointed out that Ray’s solo albums are filled with “these things that Indigo Girls, musically, weren’t really doing in a way that she wanted to do on her own,” be it country or alt-rock, or even punk.
So when Saliers began feeling the creative urge to dabble in genres not typically associated with the band, she finally decided to go for it, figuring there was no reason not to.
“I became so influenced and deep into groove music, like hip-hop — I’m a hip-hop fiend — and R&B music, and African-American gospel music. Black-American music, it’s almost everything to me in terms of what moves me the most,” Saliers said. “Indigo Girls haven’t really delved into so much of the R&B or rhythmic-centered production in a way that I kind of wanted to step out and do a little bit on my own. … And I just stopped being afraid for whatever reason, and I was like, ‘I’m gonna do this.’ ”
Which is not to say it was easy.
“I became very engaged with the supporters of the music, and it has been moving for me, honestly. To meet these people, to know they’re as excited about it as I am — it really has become my village. I never anticipated how profound that would be for me.”
— Emily Saliers
Saliers knew the project would require her to get out of her comfort zone. A big obstacle to overcome was the concern about how her longtime fans would react to something so far removed from her usual material.
“Yeah, I had those feelings! I had those feelings along the way, because this record doesn’t have a ton of harmony on it, there’s very little acoustic guitar — one or two splashes of it, really. There’s a lot of electric guitar and other instruments and stuff like that. So I had those thoughts,” she said. “But in the end, I really love the album. I really do! I made the album that I wanted to make, and that feels good.”
Because Saliers funded the album through a PledgeMusic campaign the normally reserved songwriter soon discovered that there were yet more comfort zones in need of expansion, as the success of such crowdfunding efforts largely depends on spurring fan interaction.
Saliers embraced the process and, to her surprise, found herself embraced back.
“I got a lot of fans involved. And they pledged, or they preordered the album, or they bought a T-shirt, or a signed album or whatever, and I did a lot of Skype sessions and different things. So I became very engaged with the supporters of the music, and it has been moving for me, honestly,” she said. “To meet these people, to know they’re as excited about it as I am — it really has become my village. I never anticipated how profound that would be for me, because I’m a little bit of an introvert, and I sort of shy away from the exposure thing. But the PledgeMusic thing, I really grasped it and loved it, and I loved meeting the fans. So that’s some comfort for me.”
She’ll now go on tour in support of the album. The first few shows will feature just her and producer/violinist Lyris Hung. When she gets into her October schedule, she expects those shows to include “a full band, because the album has quite a lot of musical production on it — full rhythm section and violins and synthesizers and whatnot and so on.”
She hopes Indigo Girls fans will not only come out to support her at the live shows, but will buy the album in advance and become acquainted with the material she’ll be performing. Because there’s nothing quite like hearing an audience belt your lyrics along with you.
“That familiarity is a very powerful force. I mean, I love hearing new music, and I can sit and listen to new songs all night long, but there’s really nothing like that experience of knowing a song and being able to sing it,” Saliers said. “That familiarity — I don’t know what kind of physiological power it carries, but it’s a reality. We all feel that.”
Release • Friday, Aug. 11
Tracks • 15
Price • $9.99
Available via • iTunes, EmilySaliers.com, PledgeMusic