Four years since her debut record Emotions and Math, Margaret Glaspy has found herself on a slightly different path than she started out on. Ditching her fiddle-heavy roots, the Northern California-hailing artist who now lives in New York challenged herself to make a record in ways new to her. “I went down a bunch of rabbit holes - Ableton, just synthesizers in general - and I dabbled in Max/MSP, just started to brush up on ways of making music that I wasn’t acquainted with,” Glaspy said of making the record.
Below, FADER premieres the first single from the album “Killing What Keeps Us Alive,” accompanied by a remarkably simple but effective visual. Devotion is out March 27 on ATO Records. You can preorder the record here.
What have you been up to lately?
Gosh, it’s been four years since I’ve released a record. I came off the road from Emotions and Math and had to collect myself a little bit, and then I started to make music and that was great. I wanted to challenge myself to make this record in a very different way, so I brushed up on a lot of different ways to make music that I wasn’t acquainted with. It felt like an uphill battle at times — I wasn’t really good at anything once I started to look for other instruments and had to relearn how to make music — but I started to become satisfied once I was making music that still felt like myself with different tools.
Once I got off the road and was making things again, I was pretty happy — but I also felt like my brain wasn’t as satiated as I like it to be. I like to be chewin’ on stuff a lot. I’ve started to take classes at Harvard, which has been cool. I never got my bachelor’s degree because I went to Berklee for just a semester and then started touring out of school. It’s been a little girl dream of mine to get my degree, and I always wanted to go to an Ivy League school, so I started to peck away at my Bachelor’s at Harvard through their distance program so I can be on tour. The music feels better because I’m achieving other things outside of it and not just centered on one thing all the time. I feel like I’m feeding my brain, and it gives me good output.
Were you not feeling like yourself before you went back to school?
I was just craving some stimulus that wasn’t music. There’s so much that happens to musicians. You’re giving so much for so long that you’re like, “How am I supposed to be inspired to make new music if I’m just constantly giving the same all the time, and not having experiences outside of being in a hotel room and onstage?” I was just craving my brain to be challenged in a different way.
I've been part of such a lineage-based trajectory. I grew up playing folk music, and I always had a guitar in my hands for a really long time. It’s refreshing to follow my nose around sounds that I just like for no reason and feel satisfied by that. Of course, there’s no way that you can break from the lineage — it’s the joy of music, everyone’s done it already anyway [Laughs]. It’s not like I hatched the influences that I have for this record out of my own brain. You listen to stuff and get inspired, and I’m proud of that. I was listening to different things and accepting the things that I love and not being afraid of them.
What were some of your inspirations?
There’s things that were non-musical that were definitely an inspiration to me. I’m a really big fan of Alexander McQueen, so I was watching a lot of runway and wanted to make music that would make that clothing make sense. I also got really into Hilma af Klint and the Ravel String Quartet — Bjork’s Vespertine was a really big deal for my brain, too.
A lot of folk artists have started introducing synths into their music over the last several years.
Whatever is around you is definitely gonna nudge you one way or the other. That might be something that’s even more unique to myself too — I’m so sensitive to anything around me at any given time that I feel it all. We’ve been living in a very particular climate that has everyone pretty overwhelmed, so whether you’re an accountant, a musician, or working at the grocery store, it’s intense no matter what side you’re on.
I turned 30 a while ago, and I feel like you do grasp things in a different way. “I just wanna do me, I don’t have anything to prove other than me expressing myself in a way that feels fit.” It came from following my nose and not really doing it for any other reason other than me being excited about it.
MARGARET GLASPY TOUR DATES
03-16 - 22 Austin, TX - SXSW
03-27 Glasgow, UK - Mono
03-28 Manchester, UK - Institute
03-29 Bristol, UK - Fleece
03-31 London, UK - Lafayette
04-12 Pawtucket, RI - The Met RI
04-13 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
04-14 Brooklyn, NY - The Bell House
04-15 Brooklyn, NY - The Bell House
04-16 Philadelphia, PA - Underground Arts
04-17 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
04-20 Burlington, VT - Higher Ground Showcase Lounge
04-21 Toronto, ON - Opera House
04-22 Millvale, PA - Mr. Smalls Theatre
04-24 Detroit, MI - El Club
04-25 Chicago, IL - Thalia Hall
04-26 Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
04-27 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
04-28 Iowa City, IA - The Mill
05-01 Seattle, WA - The Crocodile
05-02 Vancouver, BC - Fox Cabaret
05-03 Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater
05-05 San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall
05-06 Sacramento, CA - Harlow's
05-08 Solano Beach, CA - Belly Up Tavern
05-09 Los Angeles, CA - Teragram Ballroom
05-16 - 17 Guadalajara, MX - Corona Capital Festival