Genevieve Schatz put out her first solo EP, Show Your Colors, last year after a long stretch as lead singer for Company Of Thieves. She’s on tour right now opening for A Great Big World, hitting Chicago’s Lincoln Hall this Sunday April 3rd. I’m glad she had a few minutes to do this quick interview with me. Grab tickets to her show here and you can stream the record on Spotify after the interview!
Coming out of being in a group for a long time, were there any concerns you had about going solo, or did you know that the time had come to do your own thing?
G: Any concerns I had about “going solo” were in regards to who I thought I was or who I needed to be based on the identity I had spent a lot of my life embodying. Ultimately, I knew that the time had come for me to grow into the next chapter of my life!
You use your voice more like another instrument rather than a mechanism to deliver words. What do you think your voice can accomplish that can’t be done by other instruments?
G: Hmm… well, I think my voice is the only one that can be my true voice! hahaha
Your website lists a few names like Bjork, Thom Yorke, and Fiona Apple. I’d throw in Emily Wells and Sharon Van Etten as comps as well. Who are some of the artists that have influenced your solo work?
G: Some of the artists that have influenced my solo work are Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, John Lennon, Freddy Mercury, David Bowie, Kanye West…
Your old group Company of Thieves was a Chicago act. What do you miss most about making music in Chicago?
G: If there is anything I miss about making in Chicago, it is the ability to, at any hour, know where to go to take a break from making music 😉 I know that city like the back of my hand and I know where to go when I need to re-set or re-group!
The music on Show Your Colors is mostly very optimistic, with themes of empowerment and self-love. Is it easier for you to write in that mindset as opposed to a more cynical view?
G: I would need to have a cynical view in order to write with one. I just don’t!
So, yes- it is easier and natural for me to write in that mindset, or heartset, rather!
A couple of your songs have been featured in ad campaigns on the web and on television. Is it strange at all to think that people might relate your music to a product?
G: People might relate my music to all sorts of different things- memories, moods, moments that I might never understand…so, it’s not really any more strange than that!
The production of the EP feels a lot more polished than the Company Of Thieves records. I know you worked with some great producers for the EP. What was that process like versus recording with a group?
G: I this case, I like thinking of “polished” as removing the outer layer and getting to the inner shine! The songs on my EP are doing just that- removing my coat of armor and revealing a core truth of mine. Each song was made with a different writer/producer who encouraged me to dig down and get to the heart of the matter. In this way, there was no group sound or feel to uphold, it was only about what was right for me and my song!
You did a very well-received Tiny Desk Concert video for NPR that featured yourself and Chris Faller (The Hush Sound, Family Order). In it you mention that he plays all the instruments, so how important is it for you to have someone like him with you to create all the sounds that are in your head?
G: It’s incredibly important and necessary, even!
Your live show is a high-energy affair. Do you feel that the pressure to perform well is higher now that you’re a solo act?
G: No. And any pressure to perform any certain way would be coming from me, so…no!
I perform honestly.
If there’s one thing that people take away from listening to your music, what do you hope that is?
G: I hope they can experience love from listening to my music!
You can find out if Genevieve is playing in your city on her website.