California-based songwriter Deborah Crooks‘ music draws on folk, rock, Americana and the Blues. Her diverse, ever-evolving artistic path has included studying writing and poetics at The Naropa Institute, voice in India, co-writing and collaborating with her Bay Area peers and gigging throughout the Western US.
In this interview, we chat with Deborah about her newest project, influences, and more.
Full Q&A, links, and a stream of “Beauty Everywhere” are below.
Let’s dive a little deeper into You, the artist and your music. What attracted you to this genre(s) or style(s)?
I’ve always been interested in stories, life stories, and the fact that it could be possible to express deep feeling through words and music. Growing up, music was always on the radio or stereo and I also loved to read. I had several “aha” moments when I first saw and heard deeply emotive artists such as Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, and Lucinda Williams. And I’ve always been the kind of person that wants to try something I’m excited about for myself!
How long have you been creating and sharing your music with the public?
My earliest recording effort was in 2003, so close to 15 years.
Who or what influences your playing and/or writing? Also, what motivates you to keep going?
So much of my community exists because I put my creative work out in the world. Many of my friends are dedicated artists or writers and they keep me inspired and motivated to keep the conversation going. I get out to a fair number of shows in the Bay Area which is full of diverse music — live music has the juice! — see what other songwriters are up to and generally get reignited to express how it all looks and feels from my corner of the world. I also practice yoga and Buddhism to keep my spirit in order. Truth and beauty are where it’s at for feeling alive.
Were you trying to accomplish anything specific on this new project? Creatively or otherwise?
I wanted to record quickly, with this exact group of musicians. We’ve done other projects and/or played live together over the years and I wanted to get close to that in-the-room chemistry. Recording in an analog studio also lent itself to the immediacy and authenticity I was going for in the songs themselves.
What was the last song you listened to?
I’m loving the newest from Lori McKenna. Her song “The Bird & The Rifle.”
Which do you prefer? Vinyl? CDs? MP3s?
Vinyl still represents the best of music listening, both for sound quality and quality of experience. I love CDs in the car. I stream more than buy Mp3s these days.
How about this one…. Do you prefer Spotify? Apple Music? Bandcamp? Or something else? Why?
I like Apple Music when I tour. I’m a longtime iTunes user so it’s an extension of being familiar with that interface and it streams well in the car. At home I love Bandcamp for general discovery and because it feels really indie friendly/egalitarian.
Other than the digital era overwhelming us with access to an abundance of music, what are one or two of the biggest challenges you face when trying to attract listeners to your music?
Hah, digital tools are both musician friend and foe, aren’t they? Touring to places I’ve never played before is also both fun and necessary and can be difficult as you’re new/unproven in town. I love it…and want to make it more sustainable.
Do you gig, tour or perform? Do you ever live stream? Where can music lovers see you live?
Yes, I perform in the San Francisco Bay Area regularly and usually tour the North and Southwest 1-2 times a year. I did a cross-country tour last year and hope to do more. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to my record release show at The Back Room in Berkeley, CA on October 14, 2016. All my upcoming dates are listed on/being added to my sites and Bandcamp page.
Where is the best place to connect with you online? Discover more of your music?
Plus you can sign up for my newsletter at my website.
Any last thoughts? Shout outs? Words of wisdom?
Thank you for supporting indie artists!
Go see live music, support your local music venues and make art!