Singer/songwriter Nicole Atkins on upcoming Bonnaroo, DC shows

Feb 22, 2011

Nicole Atkins chatted with Washington Post readers Tuesday, Feb. 22, about Bonnaroo, her March 9 gig at the Rock and Roll Hotel, and her latest release, "Mondo Amore."

When did you become interested in music? When did people around you recognize your great talent and encourage you ( or did they?) However you got to where you are, we fans appreciate it and wish you all the best.

that's really nice of you.  i guess people started noticing my voice when i was in college studying art, and my professors noticed that i was playing more gigs and making paintings and they were very encouraging for me to pursue music.

Where there things you were thinking of that inspired you when you were producing "Cry Cry Cry"? Is there some background to the song you could share with us?

i was coming to the end of a long term relationship but still living with the person at the time.  when i was writing "cry cry cry" it was kinda my way of dealing with that situation at the time. 

Just wondered the history behind the guitars you play including the Hagstrom Viking and the Fender Jazzmaster. I would assume the Hagstrom is probably a newer model as the original Swedish made guitars were discontinued in 1979. You don't seem to play the Fender anymore. Ever considered a 12-string?

my hagstrom is actually a 1968 viking that was given to me by tore johnnsen while i was recording neptune city in sweden.  i do have a 12-string acoustic but i just haven't played it out yet.

Nicole- can't wait for the show at R&R. Great new album... been waiting forever since Neptune City but well worth the wait. :) Question: Do you ever foresee there being a state bigger, better, and greater than New Jersey?

a state bigger, better, and greater than new jersey?  yes, when they make atkinsville. 

Are there any New Jersey artists who have influenced your music style.

yes, patti smith.  bruce springsteen (recently), ween

Saw you on Conan Thursday night. Wow! When are you performing in the Detroit, MI area?

Hey thanks! We'll be in Detroit at the Magic Stick on Feb. 27th. Please come out and tell your friends!

Do you run and post from your official Twitter account?

Yes I do. It can be very hazardous or hilarious when I'm drunk or tired.

Who do you consider some of your best friends in the music industry? Feist? Holly Miranda?

Holly Miranda is a good friend. As are Regina Spektor, Langhorne Slim, Rhett Miller, AC Newman, My Morning Jacket dudes, Pat and Dan from the Black Keys, but I go the furthest back with my boys the Avett Brothers. We were all friends in college. 

Have you recovered from bronchitis?

I have but it has now turned into a sinus infection. grrrr. luckily i have a day at home today to steam, steam, steam!

Hello, Nicole. Just wondering if your new stage backdrop will be completed for your Midwest shows?

I wish! But, we dont get the kickstarter funds to build it until the end of feb. we will create it at the end of this tour and have it rarin to go for summer and fall shows.

Can you explain the meaning behind the line "I draw a dual with the cards of gods that were played in fate and time"?

its talking about challenging the fate gods to a gamble to make things go your way faster.

Did '90s female breakthrough rock artists like Tori Amos, PJ Harvey or Bjork have any influence on you?

absolutely! as did harriet wheeler from the sundays, tanya donnelly, the deal sisters and kim gordon. when i was in high school there were so many rad women in music.

What is your favorite song to play live? Can we expect to hear it at Rock n Roll Hotel in March?

they all are for different reasons but lately i'm feeling the tower and war is hell.

Excited about coming north to Canada?

i am! and having poutine! its my first headlining show in montreal!

Nicole, I was wondering how your interaction with fans was, and if you had any fun stories about meeting them, having conversations or hanging out. In fact would you hang out with fans ?

ive met lots of our fans everywhere and over many years. good stock you guys are. i try to hang out for a bit after the shows if my throat is feeling up to it. lately tho, these shows have been pretty athletic on the old throat.

Hi, Nicole. Will you be doing any shows in the UK?

yes! we're just trying to figure out the logistics now

"American Dad" did a My Morning Jacket-themed episode. How would you feel if they did a Nicole Atkins episode? haha

i would love it!!!!!

Hoping your sinus infection is cleared up by Friday. Been waiting years to see you live :)

its gonna happen. 

poutine is great! add foie gras or duck confit and make it really french :) have you been to montreal before?

i have! we opened for the pipettes years ago there and i sang with AC Newman there a couple years ago. its been a minute. we're stoked.

Are you excited about this coming Friday's show in Montreal? Are you gonna have time to visit the city?

very excited! unfortunately we wont have much time to explore. i do plan on vacationing there someday!

Are you going to really cut someone's hair, make them dinner, and wash their pet? What prizes are you going to get the opportunity to give out from the kickstarter?

i would have but we didnt have anyone pledge on that level. so we're doing handpainted bags, posters, tshirts, i wrote 286 thank you notes yesterday! my hand hurts. 

we are also doing some meet and greets and dinners and one pledger gets a house concert! i also have to write a lot of songs with peoples names in it.

Were you upset that "Mondo Amore" leaked a few days early? How do you feel about pirated music?

i was but what can you do really. i guess it would be worse if it didnt bc that would mean that nobody cared. it makes me sad that people dont see the value in buying and owning artist's music. it was something that always was and still is important to me as a music fan. owning the records and supporting the artists.

Are there any New Jersey shows on the horizon or even in the near future? I loved the show at the Downtown in Red Bank and would love to see another one like that in the future.

of course! maxwell's on march 11th!

What is the song that gets stuck in your head recently ?

all of the minerva lions songs from their ep. lucidity from tame impala

How old were you when you started writing music?

15 but i wrote the first song that i liked at 21

Where did you get the idea for the cover? And who is the guy? haha

it just came to me one day when i was trying to get out of bed. it's my good friend Senior from jersey

How did you get through your breakup? Was there something specifically that helped you cope?

alcohol, therapy and time

Your thoughts? Just curious.

music is shit but he is a talented human with unfortunate hair.

Were you a rebel growing up, or were you one of those perfectly behaved kids?

i was a bad kid that never got caught

oh my god what you just said was amazing. lol

Aany plans to release to a concert DVD? It would be awesome to own and show off your talent to my friends. Do you mind when fans take their own amateur videos at shows?

im planning on releasing a live dvd in the future for sure. i dont mind when people take video, so long as they are enjoying being at the actual show and arent up in our faces with a flip cam

You with the elder man makes me think of the imagery from PJ Harvey's "UhHuhHer" and Tori's "Scarlets Walk." Not bad company!

cool thanks!

Nicole, listening to this song I keep hearing Squeeze. Do you count them as an influence?

which song?

Awesome! I can't wait! :)

You have quite a unique style that should appear in fashion magazines. How do you choose what to wear? Who inspires you as far as fashion sense goes?

i pick according to mood. i tend to lean towards the casino culture, goth country end of the spectrum. this tour is seeing lotsa black and gold

Oops. The song Cry Cry Cry reminds me of Squeeze.

oh cool. thanks. i love squeeze. i didnt have them in mind when robert and i were writting it but that is cool for sure.

What's your favorite line of any song you've ever written?

how do i answer that? i dont know. maybe right now "if she keeps on spreading rumours well that bitch is gonna have to die." hahahah

Saw you at the Bowery Ballroom where you gave a shout out to someone in the front row who was a frequent attendee of your shows. That must've been pretty awesome for him. How often do you recognize your fans?

i have a memory like an elephant. most of the time.

Your thoughts on Lady Gaga? :)

i think her art is awesome and her songs are shit.

What would you be doing if you didn't have a career in music?

i have no idea. that would be sad. maybe a painter or a cake maker or work in an old folks home.

The record launch party at Bowery Ballroom was amazing. Do you miss having all those musicians with you on stage when you play smaller shows ? What will the group size be like at Maxwells?

i wish i could play with that many people all the time. especially that group of people. my good friends. maxwell's will be me, irina, ezra, jeremy and probably chen or jared on keys. some backup singers too!

I love that line too!!!!! Who is it about???


What is your drink of choice?

coffee, iced tea, red wine and jameson

Speaking of Squeeze, I first heard you on Jools Holland's show (Yay for Jools!). The cut of the guys from Metallica bobbing their heads to Maybe Tonight was a ten! How was that experience?

that was one of the coolest nights ever. i love metallica!

You got a great off-beat taste for cover-songs (Can, Patti Smith, The Church, Leadbelly, etc, etc) . What do you consider the weirdest cover that you ever played? And who did the best cover of a Nicole Atkins song?

the weirdest was probably when we covered danzig's mother. it was awesome. best cover of one of my songs is a toss up between this harpist that did neptune city on youtube and this cute nerdy girl who did skywriters on ukelale

Who do you dream to do a duet with?

nick cave

There was never a doubt in my mind that you'd reach your Kickstarter goal, with your talents and fan base! How are you going to spend the money raised past your initial goal? Booze and gas money?

van insurance, additional band salaries, merch

maybe a murder ballad like he did with Kylie Minogue?


How did you choose the covers you did for this EP? I was surprised to learn I knew every single song, but more surprised by how amazing you made them sound. Did people suggest covers for you, or were they just songs you liked/played in the past?

they were songs that i've always loved.

will there be anymore vignettes from Mondo Amore? (the IFC videos) You and Nick Cave would sound amazing.

that was it for the vignettes. mandy and lucia did a great job. be on the lookout for videos for "hotel plaster," "baby dont lie," and "cry cry cry"

any thoughts on her?

she is adorable.

What's the next concert you'll be in the audience for? Or any acts you're dying to see live?

oh man, i have no idea. we'll be touring so much. probably the black keys and booker t when we open for them in indianapolis or the avetts when we open for them in may.

I want you and Carina Round to sing at my wedding. How much money should I save up lol ??

hahaha how many songs?

In my little bedroom studio I made a remix of Bleeding Diamonds. But I was hesitant to publish it. Would you mind if I publish it in my Soundcloud-account?

go for it. as long as youre not selling it its cool

Are you spiritual? The vignettes and the Vultures video have a Wicca feel to them

i am. 

How did you choose the opening bands for the Bowery Ballroom show? Mon Khmer and The Gay Blades were both awesome!

they are friends whose music i admire very much so.

oh god how could I ever choose?

hahah, where do you live?

How so ?

i dont like to discuss that with strangers.

Cool :) Love the goat necklace in the video

What is your favorite book and why?

hmmm. my favorite book right now is marquez's "one hundred years of solitude"  his writing is so visual it sparks a million ideas in my head

What are your favorite hangout spots in Brooklyn?

i love pinkerton wine bar on havermeyer and the rabbitshole on bedford

Have you ever thought of doing some kind of concept album, somewhat along the lines of what Murder by Death does or even early Springsteen around Born to Run (strange thought, I know but each one of his songs tells a story in it's own way)?

im sure there will be several down the line

Ottawa (Canada's Capital - near Montreal.... you should come here sometime) no engagement yet, waiting for the Tiffany Titanium and diamond Atlas ring :)

hahaha well best of luck! :)

What to except at your show? First time seeing the amazing Nicole Atkins

your face, melted.

I saw you perform twice in Amsterdam. Both shows were great. Any chance for a third visit, and a European tour? (pref. in 2011!)

trying to work out logistics now! cant wait to get back there.

I saw you a few years ago playing at Rock and Roll Hotel with Bonerama - what's it like playing with those guys? Looks like you had a great time with them!

it feels like hanggliding down a mountain. i love playing with those guys!

hey its been super fun chattin with you guys! see you at the shows!

In This Chat
Nicole Atkins
Nicole Atkins is a singer/songwriter originally from New Jersey and now living in Brooklyn. Her latest album, "Mondo Amore" was released Feb. 8 and she recently was announced as one of the artists performing at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in June in Tennessee.
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