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"Jazz Monthly Feature Interview" Mindi Abair

mindi abairSmitty:  I am always happy to talk to my next guest.  She’s just an exciting musician to watch and to listen to.  She’s about to release another fantastic new record.  It’s called Life Less Ordinary.  I feel like this is a sequel to a great story because each time she produces a CD, it’s always a sequel to her playing and her musicianship, and it’s always in an elevated mode.  Please welcome once again the lovely and so talented Ms. Mindi Abair. Mindi, how are ya?

MINDI ABAIR (MA):  I’m great.  Thank you for such a nice introduction.  I’m very proud of this new CD and I’m so glad you like it.  Not many people have heard it yet, so it’s fun to see people’s reactions.  I’ve lived with it so long and took so much time making it that it’s really fun to see people enjoy it now.

Smitty:  Yes indeed.  You know, I noticed right away when listening to this record, it just felt like you had this strong desire to express yourself and really give your fans a much deeper look at Mindi Abair.

MA:  That’s really what I wanted on this CD.  I remember so many years ago I was shopping for a record deal and a record executive said to me, before he ever heard my music, he said “But do you have something to say?  To be an artist and make records you have to have something to say.”  And I’d never really heard that from anyone and I didn’t quite know how to take that, so I said “Yes, I have something to say.”  But I do believe that you really do have, you know, have to have something to say or have to have something to express; because it shows in the music. Whether it’s writing lyrics or whether it’s instrumental music.  I think there’s a spirit to music when you write it and you really have something in your heart that you want to get out, and this record is definitely that.

Smitty:  I think you’ve expressed yourself quite well because this is some funky new fabric.  I mean, the sax lines are so strong and I’m just really digging the record. And I noticed right away too, your voice was much deeper, it was emotional, it was so expressive in the lyrics in the songs. Unbelievable.

MA:  Aw, thank you.  Yeah, I think this year was a big year for many of us, definitely, you know, the world, America.  For me it was big, a lot of changes, I had so much to write about.  I think it was a very real and honest look at the past year of my life and the songs I wrote, because of what was happening.  I mean, you look at Hurricane Katrina coming through or you look at the hurricanes that hit Florida, which is where I was born and raised, and the tragedies that happened there.  I got married this year, which was just this beautiful life change, just really fun things happening. I was out with my band touring and that’s been a life dream for me to be on the road with my band playing my music and having records out there. So I’m not the type to take that type of thing for granted.  I’m the type of person to just soak up every moment of it and just love it and enjoy it, so I think so much of that is reflected on the record.  There are a lot of songs that are very heartfelt and there are just fun funky jams where I was like, you know, “We could have a good time with this playing on the road next year!”

Smitty:  Yeah, that’s what I’m talking bout! (Both laughing)

MA:  And, you know, songs that are kind of touching from some of the tragedies that have happened, but I think it kind of encompasses the whole year for me.

Smitty:  Yeah.  So when you say that, and thinking back to the time of making this record and going in and out of the studio, the late nights, the early mornings, talk about some of your emotions and your experiences in doing this.  Was it fun?  Was it thought provoking?  Was it just a re-living of the past and thinking about the future?  Talk about some of those emotions that you were feeling while you were making this record.

MA:  Well, there was one song that I wrote……it’s funny.  The way that this record happened was a little different for how I usually make a record.  I sat down with Matthew Hager, who I usually work with, he’s produced all of my CD’s and we’re best friends. So we’ll sit down to write and usually come up with just our normal sound. But what we started coming up with…..both of our faults (laughing), so what we came up with was this moody, like, really kind of emotional music. One of the first songs we wrote was a song called “Rain,” and we started writing it and I just thought “Wow, this is not what I expected to come out of me today, like, I just…..I don’t know what’s going on in this song and it sounds like it’s raining,” and that’s, of course, why we named it “Rain.” But as the song went on, it kind of got this optimistic quality to it, and as we wrote it, it took a turn from this kind of rainy to this kind of optimistic, almost triumphant song. And I just thought “Wow, this is just like the tragedies that have happened; Hurricane Katrina that we’ve been hearing so much about and some of the other hurricanes that have hit Florida that I helped out my family members with and tried to re-build a little bit. But I thought it was such a neat thing to come out because it’s not normally what you write a song about or it’s not normally the kind of music comes out of you. Sometimes you really have no control over that, like you’re just……you’re kind of ….a person that it flows through and there it is, and you think “Ha!  I guess I did feel that more than I thought.” (Chuckle)

Smitty:  It’s interesting that you say that because the things that you described, the various hurricanes and other tragedies around the country, and there are some bright spots too, some wonderful things that have happened, you know?

MA:  Oh yeah.

Smitty:  And it’s funny you mention the song “Rain” because I listened to the CD two or three times and then I kept going back to “Rain” for some reason.

MA:  Oh really?  Wow.

Smitty:  Yeah, I kept repeating “Rain” and I said “Why am I playing this song?  Why do I keep going back to this song?”  I kept hitting repeat.  And what I noticed was…..the very things that I would dwell on as I’m listening to this song. I start to think about family, I start to think about things that have happened, you know, I lost my parents very close together…..

MA:  Oh wow.

Smitty:  ….within a year and a half, and all of the things that happened around that, and some of the wonderful things that have happened recently in my life… was one of those thought provoking songs that cause you to reflect.

MA:  Yeah.

Smitty:  And I think that’s a connection that your fans will feel and immediately connect with that song because it does provoke the emotions of everyday life, the things that we see and feel and hear every day.


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