Tristen Gaspadarek worships Kate Bush (as well she should), thinks autotune is not a good idea and is celebrating the release of her new album at an American Legion post in a sketchy part in East Nashville, TN and now I feel like she’s my new best friend. Tristen moved from Lansing, IL to Nashville, TN in 2007 after graduating from college and has since toured with Justin Townes Earle, The Elected and Jenny Lewis, who is in her latest video for “Glass Jar.” With all of this activity, she took time to chat with me on a lovely Friday afternoon.
Sneaker Waves will be released on July 7, 2017 (or 7/7/17) and after asking Tristen if this was a particularly lucky number for her, she said “no, I just felt good about the date, 7/7/17 and it’s Ringo Starr’s birthday, so it’s a great day.” She said that on Sneaker Waves, “I went into the recording without an actual concept and I sort of just let every song decide what it was going to be. I followed just the simple process of playing it however I wrote it and singing it and being sure it worked. Tom Petty always says that you know it’s a song if you play it every time, sing it and it works. I tried to follow that. I followed the song and kept the arrangements as simple as possible.
When I inquired about Tristen’s songwriting process, she said “sometimes I’m in the shower or I think of a great line or sometimes I’m seeing the melody that goes with it. Or I’m writing lyrics about something I just read. In the instance of Glass Jar, I’ve been talking about that concept with my friends for days. Right around this time, I played a show in Portland. The flyer their in-house designer made was a little moth inside this glass jar. Sometimes I have a great melody, but I can’t figure out what lyric goes with it. I created a free working environment in my house. I write everyday and I keep a journal. My journal is a lot of things copied and pasted of quotes, ideas or my husband Buddy and I stewing about political issues.”
Tristen has a very pure, refreshing voice that reminds me of Kate Bush and Tristen said “Oh my God, she’s the queen. I laughed so hard when Coachella didn’t book her because they didn’t think she’d sell tickets and I thought ‘you’d have to add an extra weekend for her.’ She’s such a pure thing to every musician. I love her so much. She’s a huge influence and when I feel the need to be inspired I just watch a bunch of Kate Bush music videos and I feel better.”
When discussing the honesty in Tristen’s voice, she added “there is a French New Wave philosopher, Jean Baudrillard who talks about stages of simulation. There are four stages of simulation, and in the end phase, people prefer the simulated over the real thing, which is really sad and morbid. With this autotune idea, people think they need to be in perfect pitch, but actually, if your rhythm is there, the pitch is totally second to that. I listen to classic recordings all the time, and the singers are pitchy and it doesn’t matter because it’s all about a feeling. I love a distinct voice over everything and I love feeling like the person is just pouring out. Pitch is just a quick fix to a boring voice. If you have a very unique voice, you don’t need pitch adjustment. It’s like putting a lot of makeup on. Everytime I get my makeup done by somebody else, it’s like “I look like a monster.”
Tristen also doesn’t watch too much TV on the road “I don’t really watch commercials. We find the shows we watch and we stream them. When I’m in a hotel room, I watch the esthetics of TV and I feel disconnected. Everything is overly perfect and every woman needs to be stitched and tucked and shaved. My aunt used to say to me and my sister, ‘beauty is pain.’ I just feel like it’s so unnatural. It’s the same in music. It just becomes so mechanical. I know from playing and watching shows though that pitch doesn’t really matter.”
I asked Tristen if she would ever entertain the idea of going on a reality show to increase popularity and she said “everybody is on a reality show, like it’s on their instagram feed. Everything depends. I’ve learned how to say no and it’s a good balance between life and work. You have to be able to say no and feel okay with sitting it out if it’s not the right thing. There’s definitely the right kind of tension and you can die of exposure.”
Tristen did a cover of the Eagles “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and kept it gender specific, which I admire. She said that “I like covers that don’t reference the original and my father used to sing that to my mother while I was growing up, so it was ingrained in my being. You don’t want to change the pronoun. It really doesn’t matter who I am, gender-wise, I’m going to a zone that is not my own. You have to connect to the narrative of the song.”
Be sure to catch Tristen at The Royal American in Charleston, SC on Thursday, July 6th and buy Sneaker Waves.
Check out more from Tristen on her site: Tristen.com