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Jewel Interview at Grammy Pro
« on: March 24, 2016, 08:03:36 AM »
Jewel Is Hitting The Road Without A Set List
The GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter shares her plans for the Picking Up The Pieces tour


Typically when a fan attends a concert, they are treated to a pre-constructed array of songs that an artist has planned ahead of time, give or take the occasional on-the-fly request. That is not the case with a live Jewel show. ďI donít do a set list,Ē she tells us. ďI really prefer to feel out the crowd and see what mood they are in.Ē Such is the plan for the singer/songwriterís Picking Up The Pieces tour, which kicks off today following the release of her twelfth studio album of the same name. Also on her agenda is promoting her newly released memoir, Never Broken Ė Songs Are Only Half the Story. In her self-penned ďhow toĒ book, Jewel shares her secrets living a creative life and successfully navigating the waters of the music business.

We caught up with the GRAMMY-nominated performer to hear about her very raw and impromptu stage show, what she learned about songwriting from Bob Dylan, and her plans to tackle yet another genre of music.

What can we expect from your Picking Up The Pieces tour?

Greatness! This is going to be a solo acoustic tour, just me and my guitar. I donít have a set list and I take a lot of requests. I probably have over 500 songs that Iíve written and my fans know them all better than I do so they usually bring in chords and lyrics for me to learn the unusual ones. And then there will be some stuff off the record. I talk a fair amount because I kind of incorporate the book into the show.

With such a diverse catalog, what is it like putting a show like this together?

I think since all the songs are solo acoustic, they donít sound all that different. Itís often the production that will take a song into a different genre. Iíve always had a lot of influences growing up. I listened to country as much as I did folk and pop. Itís very innate to what I do. And I donít do a set list just because I really prefer to feel out the crowd and see what mood they are in. Sometimes people are tired and you have to start out with lighter material. Sometimes people come in and they want to be impressed. So itís just better, Iíve noticed, to walk out on stage with no plan and feel out the audience.

So you donít ever have a set list taped to the stage? Even as a backup plan?

No. That way itís a different show every night. That way the fans that follow me on tour will eventually get all the songs from my catalogue if they stick around.

How do you decide the opening song to set the tone for the show?

I usually do it when Iím walking on stage. Iíve been into singing ďOver The RainbowĒ a cappella in a dark stage lately but it just kind of varies as I walk out there. I see what I feel like.

Youíre such a great songwriter. Whatís the secret to writing a good song?

I think just ingest great work. I donít know how you can be a great writer without listening to great music. I think reading is more important for songwriting. And spending a lot of time by yourself and really really woodshedding. Otherwise, I think you become generic. And I think if you are trying to become a songwriter by listening to whatís on the radio, youíre always going to be a step behind. And itís always going to be a bit generic. I think reading a lot is really important.

What do you do to get inspired? What is your process?

Itís a lot harder now that Iím a mom. I used to just write all the time and keep diaries and now my time is definitely very limited. I often will start little song ideas and Iíll put them on my phone recorder and Iíll never go back to them. At some point, I need to sit down and spend a half a day every day developing the songs. Iíve always been lucky to have so many songs in my back catalog that Iíve never had to really write a record. Iíve only written one or two. Iíve never been in this crunch where Iíll have to suddenly come up with a record. So itís always brought me a lot of time. If I did that poetry spoken word record, it would be pretty easy. Iíd go back through journals, go back through poems and pull lines out, develop tracks, and things like that.

What do you do if you are working on a song and you get stuck? Whatís the secret to getting the creativity going again?

I donít really believe in writerís block. I think that comes when you judge yourself. Creativity is sort of like a child. You have to create a sort of environment for it to show up and be playful in. And if youíre judging yourself while youíre writing, and youíre like, ďThis isnít good enough,Ē youíll just hit a roadblock. I think the key to writing is to give yourself permission to write anything. Not every song is going to be great. And thereís been a couple of songs Ė itís pretty rare -- but a couple of songs have taken me a few years to write where I will just hit a wall and I will come back to it every few months or every year. It took some life experiences for me to figure out how to finish what I had to say. And being patient can pay off.

Throughout your career, you have crossed over from pop to a childrenís lullaby album to a folk record. What is the secret to reinventing your sound over and over again?

I donít really look at it as reinventing myself. I was really lucky to be mentored by Bob Dylan when I was about 20 and his advice was always, ďYou have to follow your muse. If you want to be a singer/songwriter, you have to go wherever that leads you.Ē Itís not about great career decisions or reinventing yourself for the media or anything. Itís literally saying, ďWhatís interesting me now as an artist?Ē I always felt like if I got pigeonholed, that would be my own fault. I have a lot of music in me and I have a lot of different aspects to my personality. And I think everybody does. I think it will take a lifetime for me to get out all the different types of music that I have in me. And after the success of that first record, I really didnít have anything to lose by doing that. That record was so successful that I didnít really have to have another hit. So I credit that and what Bob Dylan really ingrained in me, which was push yourself.

So you werenít nervous about switching genres?

It was scary at first. ďWho Will Save Your SoulĒ was the first song I ever wrote. I didnít know how I did it. And then when I realized, ďWait a minute. I sold enough records; I donít have to have another hit ever.Ē It was very liberating. So I chose liberation over stress.

What type of music would you like to take on next?

There are a couple of records that Iíd really love to make. I have no idea what Iíll do first. There are some more folk songs that Iíd really love to do. Iíd really like to do a rock record that really sort of covers range. I had a lot of fun with Dave Grohl and some of the guys on the road this last year. It would be fun to write with Flea. Heís an old friend of mine. It would be fun to write some killer rock songs. But Iíd also like to do a spoken word record where I take some EDM tracks and beats and put spoken word to it and create a tapestry sort of record that has spoken word centered around an electronic dance record. I think that would be really fun.

I'd listen to a rock record.  Bit weirded out at the EDM one, though.


  • EDA
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Re: Jewel Interview at Grammy Pro
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2016, 01:12:31 PM »
I would kill for a Rock album!


  • EDA
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Re: Jewel Interview at Grammy Pro
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2016, 08:22:58 AM »
She gives really good interviews. 

Honestly, I like the fact that she's ot afrai to experiment.  Any other female singer-songwriters form the 90s and the Lilith circuit, never changed.  I think she did a good job of switching around, yet still being her.

Mr. Joe

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Re: Jewel Interview at Grammy Pro
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2016, 10:57:19 AM »
I like Jewel doing rock as well, her performance at Wood Stock '99 is a favorite. :jewelsmilie: :blueguitar:

But I love her Country and Folk music just as much. :music:
"Mr. Joe, of the Philadelphia Joes"