A Conversation With Amy Lavere


Written by Melz Durston
15 Tuesday 15th April 2014

“I am still restless. I travel to stay inspired.”

Amy's fifth and follow-up to 2011’s Stranger Me, is Runaway's Diary.  It is a nostalgic but forward-moving record, charting the ups and downs of Amy’s traveling experiences and former years.  Currently at the start of her extensive tour across the USA, Amy will be bringing an entourage of talented musicians along with her for the ride…

Featuring Luther Dickinson and John Paul Keith, amongst many greats, Amy's distinctive vocals accompany lilting strings, and smooth bass lines.  It's an album that will wash over you like a lagoon of sunken memories, nostalgic losses and unabashed hurts.  Amy wears it well, and she will be bringing her new music to London in June.

Amy has set up a Pledge Music campaign, which she needs our help with, to help get her to pull on her blue suede shoes and walk from Memphis to London (well, not literally, that might be pushing it. We’re not sure Amy LaVere has mastered the art of walking on water, yet...)

We caught up for a chat recently with Amy.

Your latest record is a retrospective look back at a time in your life shaped by your traveling and the freedom and challenges that came your way, after leaving home at the age of fifteen.  Did you draw on journals or anything from that time?

The idea for the record being more like a sonic movie was sparked by the first song Rabbit. I had other songs already written but when I wrote Rabbit it struck me that the songs almost fit into a concept record idea. I then was inspired to dig a little deeper and explore my teenage restless mind. I did sit and read through some old journals - but just for the feeling.

Is Seasick Steve someone who has been both a mentor and inspiration, especially when it comes to doing your own thing and going your own way?

I am a fan of Sea Sick Steve. I had the privilege to tour with him a couple of times and we stay in touch.  I think if your work is personal, honest and feels like you, you are psychically untouchable as far as criticism goes. If it's not well received, it's disappointing for many reasons that are superficial but I don't get hung up on opinions.

Runaway’s Diary:  Is this the culmination of many years of hard work and when did you reach the point when you knew it was finished and you should draw a line under it?

I don't really look back. My friend and former Producer Jim Dickinson said that making a record is akin to the leaving a bloody hand print on the cave well. I have marked a time in my life. Although my hand may have been small, I am still growing and have more hand prints to leave behind.

It's a long time since your debut release of This World is Not My Home in 2005.  At that time, did you have a rose-tinted view of the music industry or did you choose to go your own way regardless of 'success'?  How do you look back on your journey now, and where do you see yourself headed now?

I didn't realize that I would be so utterly forever struggling and indebted to a label to such a huge figure. There was no conscious decision of what kind of music I would be making - I'm just myself. But yes, I really didn't think I'd be teetering on the edge of destitution. Don't get me wrong, I do love the travel and the challenge it's just not a very lucrative line of work for most of us.

How did you come to work with Jim and Luther Dickinson and how poignant is this album to you both as people and artists?

Luther and I have known each other a long time. Luther and his father Jim share a lot of similarities in their production style and I found the same joy working on this record with him as I did with Jim.  It meant a lot to work with Luther. I love his whole family and what they mean to music. The integrity they maintain in this business is unique and I stay close to people who have that.

Why are you only doing one UK date?  And how was it when you played the Royal Albert Hall in support of Seasick Steve?

I've played at the Borderline before and really enjoyed it. I think I had an out of body experience at Royal Albert Hall -and in that way it was less memorable. 

Your tour is extensive!  How do you maintain sanity and health and generally, what is your touring experience like for you? 

I balance it pretty well. I like to take in the local food and culture. This helps keep things interesting and gives you things to look forward to other than just drive, hotel, play. Also, I travel with a tiny kitchen set up and will cook healthy food in the hotel room. I swim at hotels and have a little stretching thing I do in the mornings. Then of course I balance that with sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Amy LaVere and her band will be making plans to bring that inspiration from the road, to British shores.

Please visit her Pledge Music page here, and contribute and ensure that Amy LaVere and her band will make it to London, this summer, to play at The Borderline on June 2nd.  Runaway’s Diary is due out on May 26th.

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