AudioFuzz sat down with IOLA to ask her some questions. Her interview can be read below. What a great interview; what a great artist.
1. How long have you been playing music? When was the first time you performed live, and what did you perform?
I have been performing since I was 4 or 5 years old. An early performance that stands out in my cloudy memory, was when, in kindergarten, my Cartoogechaye Elementary School principal, Mr. Fouts, took a portable record player and me down the long, scary hallway to the 6th graders’ classroom; and, he had me sing to them– probably something patriotic, I can’t remember. I think it was to see if I could handle the pressure. Mr. Fouts also headed our school’s performing group, “The Heelclickers”. I guess that that was possibly an audition for the group?! We would travel around the east coast doing clogging routines and a few kids, including me, would sing solos in-between dances. I would perform country songs written by my late-grandmother, Cherry Sue Jackson. But, playing an instrument and singing at the same time, is really new to me. I started out by playing a few shows, singing and playing the keyboard, with the band Housekeeping, in 2012. I began learning the guitar and my music project, IOLA, in 2013.
2. Who were your main influences growing up? Who do you listen to now?
I was intensely obsessed with Tori Amos growing up. I couldn’t get enough. Pre-internet hitting my hometown, my father would search out bootleg cds of her music for me, when he traveled for business. It was the coolest gift ever! I was also deeply drawn to Nat King Cole and Woody Guthrie. These days, I listen to Perfume Genius and Sturgill Simpson the most– vinyl and live.
3. You have lived in some diverse places (Norway, North Carolina, Brooklyn). What do you think youbrought away from those places that affected your work?
I only lived in Norway when I was a baby. But, I visit as frequently as possible. It’s influence on my music would be creating a desire for something I don’t have/do now (my husband and I want to move there in about five years) and, I tend to write about longings in my songs. And, growing up in North Carolina has affected me in ways I discover every day. Feeling like a bad person because of lots of religious pressure and curiosity, really screwed with my head when I was little. And, it seems like I can’t stop being inspired by those past memories. On the other hand, there were many wonderful things about my hometown that I like to bring into my songs– including kind people and the nature that was around me. And, finally, Brooklyn sneaks into my songs mostly through people that I have met here who I have secretly hidden deep in song verses. Awesome people along with a small scattering of huge, monster-jerks.
4. What do you prefer; playing live or studio work?
I prefer playing live. I have recently really switched things up with the sound of my live show; and, I am excited to debut the line-up sometime next month. But, I LOVED recording my album at Kutch1 Studios with Mike Kutchman– he is the best.
5. Do you read a lot? Who are some of your favorite writers?
I 100% do not read enough these days. I feel like all of 2014 I was drowning in Stephen King’s IT and couldn’t get out of it– what a dark book! My favorite book that I read recently was George Saunders’ The Tenth of December- because it was amazing and freaky-weird. I enjoy reading Haruki Murakami, too. At the moment, I am reading The Mists of Avalon via a girlfriend’s recommendation– needed an adventurously-fun read.
6. This might not be a fair question, but was it troublesome combining your fundamental background with TM? Being raised in a very fundamentalist congregation, I feel some confusion between who I am and who “they” wanted me to be.
Oh wow. Fabulous question. And, I would LOVE to talk to you more about your experience sometime. If I had been raised within a fundamentalist congregation, I might have ended up becoming a recluse deep in the woods of Smoky Mountains or something– I am very sensitive, and, when I was younger, I was a huge pushover. My family raised me in the slightly-more-liberal Episcopal Church. But, even living in a more conservative community with my peers growing up religiously conservative, was difficult for me to juggle in my head. So, Transcendental Meditation hasn’t really been hard for me to bring into my life. It is purely a tool for getting me to calm myself down, release stress, and, therefore, allow my creative thoughts– that are often choking in a fog of worrisome-nonsense– some space to grow.
7. Are you going on tour soon? Please come to Pittsburgh.
Oh, thanks! I do hope to plan touring very soon. And, would love to head to Pittsburgh! I got married two weeks ago and just started a couple new jobs (I work as an Angioplasty Specialist in cardiac procedures in hospitals); but, soon I will be settled enough to get to organizing my on-the-road plans! Will keep ya’ll updated, for sure!
8. Is there anything else you want your fans to know about you? If you were a wild animal, what would you be?
Well, all my friends know that I am a huge tea-party person. I love to have people over for tea and bake treats etc. One day, I plan to open a little tea house…probably in the distant future and definitely not in NYC. I also love making fabric art. And, if I were a wild animal I would be a gazelle– I love
their grace, speed, and horns.