I’ve heard some people say, “Fiona Apple goes crazy on stage!” I wouldn’t call it crazy; I’d call it entranced. Apple is completely overcome by the music when she performs. The reason it may feel “crazy” is that people are not accustomed to experiencing that. In fact, much of the time, society requests we “keep it down,” hold it in, smile when we want to cry.
Seeing Fiona Apple live broadens my perspective each time. Not only is every show different, every moment is different. Her shows are real and alive, unpredictable by nature, and dependable in quality. They transform, evolve, and shape-shift around you.
There’s a set list, but you can go to every show and you won’t hear Apple do a song the same way twice. It’s the rawness, the realness, the aliveness that fans connect with.
The show envelops you. It’s as if you’ve arrived at a civilized dinner party, but when you raise your hand to knock, you realize the door is wide open. Welcome. There aren’t any elaborate light shows or over-the-top sets. What’s before you during a Fiona Apple show is: music.
Apple has a way of spontaneously moving notes through her vocal range, making them sound so perfect, it’s as if that’s how the song was always intended. I don’t imagine “always” is a concept Apple is too attached to. The songs are sung as they are intended, moment by moment.
Seemingly aware that their voices would likely not match Apple’s, there was only one crowd singalong, fan-initiated: “Happy Birthday”. Apple’s birthday was the night prior to her show at The Greek. The audience’s appreciation for and celebration of Fiona Apple’s life was felt as authentically as the show itself.
It was an abnormally warm summer night, even by LA’s standards. At times Apple would grab a fistful of ice. As she sang, water poured through her hands, along with the songs.
Fiona Apple fans have grown accustomed to waiting long periods of time between album releases and tours. It’s not their preference, but fans “get it”. It’s easy to imagine executives at the record label each time Apple delivers a new album, wearily gazing at one another, shoulders shrugged, as if to say “What are we supposed to do with this?! This doesn’t fit our model.”
That’s precisely why it works. There is nobody like Fiona Apple.
If you’re a “regular” here at Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend, or if you follow me on Twitter, then you know I prefer to do things unconventionally. Terra Naomi‘s new album, To Know I’m OK, came about unconventionally as well.
When I met Terra more than a year ago, she had a very clear vision of how she wanted this album to sound, even before all the songs were written. She knew she wanted John Alagia (Rachel Yamagata, Brett Dennen, Ben Folds Five, David Gray, Liz Phair, Jason Mraz) to produce the album. She was free from a major-label deal so she could do things differently, not beholden to anyone but herself. At the same time, she was also keenly aware that she no longer had the major-label resources to record and release her second album, and if she forgot about that for a moment, somebody was there telling her it couldn’t be done.
Photo by Ben Watts
Determined to make her vision a reality, Terra ignored the naysayers and set forth on a path to record and release To Know I’m OK, without compromise. Terra raised the recording budget via a direct to fan engagement campaign with PledgeMusic and then approached John Alagia to produce the album. Upon hearing the music and Terra’s plans for releasing the album, Alagia agreed. The result? “This is the album I’ve always wanted to make,” Terra says.
Terra is also going about releasing the album independently, partnering with technology companies and passionate audience communities. As she did with PledgeMusic, Terra continues to go directly to fans, reaching them in unique ways, and including them in the process. Terra partnered with Hipstamatic, engaging their passionate community and incorporating user-submitted Hipstamatic photos as the centerpiece of her video for “You For Me”. She’s working with Klout, providing unique offerings to their influencers, as well as partnering with music and lifestyle bloggers.
Photo by Ben Watts
To Know I’m OK will be available tomorrow, Tuesday June 21st, and I wanted to do something special in honor of its release. I considered interviewing Terra about the songs and the recording process. I thought it might be fun to drink with Terra. Actually, I knew that was fun, having done it previously. Other ideas that crossed my mind were: going behind the scenes with Terra and producer John Alagia during the recording process, posting random outtakes from the studio, sharing footage nobody knew I was recording, and posting full streams of some of the songs on the album. I even considered showing the recording process through the eyes of Terra’s dog, Elliott Osito. I’m of the belief that we can have it all, so below, you will find everything mentioned above.
I hope you enjoy this track-by-track video exploration of Terra Naomi: To Know I’m OK.
It’s time for a listening party
1. You For Me
Michael Chaves, Sean Hurley, Brad Conrad, John Alagia, Victor Indrizzo lend a hand to Terra Naomi during the recording of “You For Me”
Terra’s dog, Elliott, lends his tail during the making of “You For Me”
Listen to “You For Me” (Full Stream)
2. If I Could Stay
Terra performs “If I Could Stay” at a private house party
3. Not Sorry
Terra discusses the re-recording of “Not Sorry”
Listen to the new version of “Not Sorry” from To Know I’m OK
4. Everybody Knows
Terra, John Alagia, Brad Conrad, Zac Rae, Victor Indrizzo, Sean Hurley, and Michael Chaves working out “Everybody Knows” in the studio
Recording “Everybody Knows”
Listen to “Everybody Knows” Album Version (Full Stream)
5. Someday Soon
Terra, producer John Alagia, Brad Conrad, Zac Rae, Michael Chaves, Victor Indrizzo, and Sean Hurley listening to their initial recordings of “Someday Soon”
6. I’ll Be Waiting
Terra discusses the meaning of “I’ll Be Waiting” during our “interview” at Malibu Wines
Recording “I’ll Be Waiting”
Listen to “I’ll Be Waiting” (Full Stream)
I’ll Be Waiting:
7. Take Time
Terra does a special performance of “Take Time” for Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend:
Inspired by a man who dumped her:
Listen to “Take Time” (Full Stream)
8. To Know I’m OK
Listen to the title track from Terra’s new album, “To Know I’m OK” (full stream)
To Know I’m Ok:
Terra’s dog, Elliott Osito, gives his notes on the album
Finally, after a long day in the studio, John Alagia and Michael Chaves had these parting words for Terra: