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Ali McGhee has a Ph.D. in English...
Brie Capone is gorgeous in every way. The 20-something singer, who moved back to Asheville earlier this year, has a distinctive sound that is deeply soulful, intimate, jazz-inflected, and sensuous. She recorded her new EP, Orbit, at Asheville's own Echo Mountain Recording Studio. The album was released in August, and Capone has since decided that she and Asheville get along just fine.
Although Capone was born in Boston, her family moved south to the Blue Ridge when she was 12. She returned to Boston for a stint at Berklee College of Music, and then made her way to New York City, where she played with a band until deciding to head home to the mountains and her family. Orbit collects songs from the past few years together in a way that gives listeners intimate glimpses of Capone's life, through moments of triumphant love and connection as well as times of heartbreak and disappointment. Although Capone didn't write the songs with one album specifically in mind, they fit together perfectly, tracing the orbit of her own life and the trajectory that her art has taken.
Capone makes a point of collaborating with other area artists, and she'll be playing a show with CaroMia at the Bywater on December 3rd (she's also got a solo show this Friday at One World Brewing). Orbit was created collaboratively, as well, with additional instrumentation and production provided by Peter Brownlee and other members of local outfit Midnight Snack. These supporting musicians flesh out songs that are gorgeously performed and felt, but the heart and soul are all Capone. Her powerful voice on "Scars," an ode to love so good--or bad--it hurts, puts her in the company of greats like Amy Winehouse and Adele, while songs like "Vinyl" has the rollicking feel of blues-y Southern rock played in a late-night dive bar. The title song, "Orbit," could find a home on any Joni Mitchell album until it sinks down into Capone's earthier, sexier, register. It's a beautiful, deeply satisfying track, where Capone's powerhouse vocals layer over piano, guitar, bass, and percussion.
&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a data-cke-saved-href="http://briecaponemusic.bandcamp.com/album/orbit" href="http://briecaponemusic.bandcamp.com/album/orbit"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Orbit by Brie Capone&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
I spoke with Brie Capone about the album, her career so far, her return to Asheville, and what's up next.
Ali McGhee: Tell me a little about you--your backstory. There are clearly Southern influences in your sound. Do you identify as a Southern musician?
Brie Capone: I grew up in Boston, and my parents moved to Asheville when I was 12. So I wasn't born in the South, but I've developed a real love affair with the word 'y'all.' My music isn't full on Southern, but it's got Southern blues rock, as well as indie and folk, influence. My mom and dad both influenced me a lot musically. They were always listening to different stuff: Barbara Streisand, Bonnie Raitt, Steely Dan...
&amp;amp;amp;lt;a data-cke-saved-href="http://briecaponemusic.bandcamp.com/album/orbit" href="http://briecaponemusic.bandcamp.com/album/orbit"&amp;amp;amp;gt;Orbit by Brie Capone&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt;
BC: I think I've always had a love for melody lines, but I seem to lean more towards observations, I guess. I take an observation and ask, 'Is this worth creating a world or a story around?' So I end up writing notes to myself with concepts or ideas, little voice memos. Maybe it's something that makes me laugh, or words that sound good together. I ask myself, 'What imagery does that produce?'
AM: Can you give me an example of that?
BC: Recently, I came up with and liked the phrase "Wild women wilt." What would it mean to be a wild woman? And what does it look like for her to wilt? That brings in the concept of personifying her through a flower or a cactus, perhaps. At that point I can see that this could be bigger; it could be a storyline.
AM: The video for "Scars" is gorgeous. Tell me about the process of creating it with your director. How did you choose the location (near Skinny Dip Falls on the Mountains to Sea Trail)? Were you freezing? That water is freezing!
BC: I was dying on set, it was so cold! There's a scene when I come out of the water all in slow motion, but in real life in the next second I was gasping and yelling for air. I had come up with the concept for the video, I had gone up there with a few friends and I fell in love with that area. After being in the city, coming back and being surrounded by all this nature felt right for me. It was how I wanted things to be represented on the EP and for me. That was a beautiful location, and I started to get an image in my head of me naked in the water. I thought it would be really pretty with all my hair.
So I sketched out a couple of ideas for it and then I was talking to my producer, Peter (from Midnight Snack). He was super helpful in helping me figure out how we were gonna make it happen. I came to him and said, 'I want to be on a mountain in October, naked,' and he said, 'I think we can figure that out.' Andrew Anderson, who directed the video, is a local artist and has done more hip hop videos, videos with the local rap scene, but I loved the video quality and his style, and he was interested. Peter helped facilitate that, we recorded it on his iPhone and did a basic layout first.