From coast to coast Adena Atkins brings her singular artistry to song.
Her recipe is simple. Begin with lyrics that could double as poetry. Flesh them out in wildly imaginative music. Channel the whole thing through Atkins’ keystone soprano and the result sounds obvious, even necessary.
Briefly introduce yourself, when/why did you move from California to
Hi—Iʼm Adena Atkins. Iʼm a singer/songwriter specializing in sad
weirdo pop. Iʼm from southern California, I went to music school in
Boston, and when it was over I came out here to Seattle. Iʼve been
here less than two years.
In no particular order, list your top ten inspirations, even if they’re not
peeling gold spray paint
really dark chocolate
What are your thoughts on the current status of the music industry?
Itʼs pretty confusing. Maybe it always was, but it definitely is now as
our lives become more and more intertwined with technology. Itʼs a
cultural transition. It holds enormous risk and opportunity.
Are you signed to a label? What are your thoughts on that?
Labels these days run the gamut from full on corporation to a verbal
agreement between friends. Iʼve been in a couple of informal label
situations. To date nothing much has come of it. Still, the idea is
appealing to me because it implies teamwork.
What’s the Seattle music scene like?
Saturated with talent and yet extremely welcoming.
What would you hope people think about when they hear your music?
I hope the music envelops them, providing a complete experience,
rather than a particular set of thoughts.
Have you ever bought an album for its cover? Which one?
The cover of Never for Ever is not the only reason I bought it but it
sure didnʼt hurt. Itʼs a line drawing of Kate Bush with all kinds of
creatures coming out from under her skirt—totally delightful!
What’s one place/venue in the world you’ve always wanted to play?
I used to work at a Zoeyʼs Café in my hometown of Ventura. Iʼd heard
the basement was haunted so every time I went down to fetch
something from it Iʼd sing the ghost Spanish art song snippets. I was
fired of course. Iʼd love to go back though one day, finally give that
ghost a proper show.
What’s your least favorite thing about being an artist?
What’s your most favorite thing about being an artist?
Figuring out what a song is up to!
In your opinion, what’s the best way for a band or artist to make $
Probably to ask for it. Which can be challenging.
If you could go back and change anything in your career, what would
Waiting so long to share my work.
What did you do before you played music?
I painted—it was great! It gave me a real appreciation of process.
Do you play music for a living?
Yes, though it doesnʼt yet provide my full income.
Do you feel like you sell more music online or at shows?
Definitely at shows.
How do you feel about the new “facebook timeline”?
I canʼt figure out how to work it!
If you could interview any musical celebrity, alive or dead, who would
Maybe Bach. Iʼd ask him how he got so much work done!
What’s the first concert you ever saw?
Laurie Anderson! It was during her Nerve Bible tour in the early ʻ90s.
It blew my mind.
Who inspired you to sing?
Leonard Cohen. His voice is humble but he still gets the song across.
What’s your favorite show or tour story?
I went on tour with country artist Jessica Lynne this past year. Our
goal was to get down the coast as quickly as possible and try to avoid
motels. By the time we got near California we were both too tired to
drive so we pulled over to catch some sleep. It was late and it was
cold—snowing actually. We hadnʼt brought any blankets and the heat
wouldnʼt work. And Jessica offered me her jacket! This is the kind of
person I want to tour with!
Any advice to up and coming bands/artists?
Just keep going. Thatʼs the only thing I know how to do.