In part one of my interview with singer/songwriter Sunny Ozell, we heard about her process for choosing the songs on debut album ‘Take it With Me’, her love for T Bone Burnett and in particular the song ‘Kill Zone’.
Today we go on to talk more about the album, the musicians she works with, next album and UK tour with Teddy Thompson.
MV: You’ve chosen the songs from the Great American Songbook, now when you come to record and perform them do you you feel under pressure to do the songs justice?
SO: “No pressure, not at all. I studied jazz and I approach music in the jazz tradition much like Ella Fitzgerald. The idea is that we lay down the first verse and chorus exactly how it was written so that everyone has that clear picture of where the song is flowing and then take it from there – slowly opening up the piece and expressing your own expressions of the song. I have to tell you I’m a huge Paul Simon fan and particularly of his later solo work. When covering a song he works by the same concept where every verse or every chorus, every repeating phrase he’ll just tweak it ever so slightly in the delivery so that it almost gives you the listener – if you’re familiar enough with the tune – a signpost telling you that it’s not the 1st or 2nd chorus because of that one little line that he does differently and I love that, the little signposts.”
MV: Now tell me about your band, How did you meet? Do you always work with the same musicians?
SO: “By and large I do, my New York musical community is rich and Big! When I first moved to NYC I was actually busy doing more listening than performing. There was a lot more music venues back then which unfortunately is a dying trade now in most big cities so I’m really thankful for the ones that are left and going strong like Ronnie Scotts – London. Little places like that, places that specialize are one in a million! Anyway I digress, too much coffee 😀 So in going out to see a lot of music you noticed people had residencies, I looked up to these people and they in turn over the years have become my peers. I just love playing with them, Ethan Eubanks on drums, Andy Hess on bass who out of the other guys I’ve known the longest and I have to tell you man, he’s a heavy bass player – I think he’s one of the best bass players in New York! There’s Aaron Lee Tasjan the guitarist and Andrew Sherman on keys. Andrew is brilliant, he has a real facility for hearing when something does/doesn’t work and fixing it. The new album will feature the same crew but we will rotate in and out different folks like we did with the debut.”
MV: Ah a new album! So what can we expect? A mix of covers and your own material?
SO: “Well it’s going to be all band originals. There may be a real unearthed gem in there too but on the whole it’ll be a little more funkier.”
MV: Any rough idea on when that will be released?
SO: “We’re going to be recording it in the fall so in terms of release date, I’m not so sure. But before then a good friend of mine who is also an indie film maker, hopped in the van with us on our most recent west coast tour and filmed our show in my home town of Reno Nevada. There’s lots of behind the scenes banter which will give fans more of an insight into who we are. It will be a lot of fun, I can’t wait to have something fresh to show you all in the UK.”
MV: Tell me Sunny, How do you get in the creative zone to write?
SO: “Well you’ll know this as a writer, sometimes you just stop cold when something great pops into your head and you get in the zone from there but at the same time it’s also that thing of getting up in the morning, writing and adjusting your work and staying on the horse! I’ve been so busy lately I just haven’t had that mind frame but in sort of a way this tour that I’m going to be doing in May will be good for me. You know each day will be same – we wake up in some weird hotel, we pack our suitcases and get in the van, we show up at the venue, put all our shit in the venue, we sing the same songs, maybe have a cocktail after the show and hopefully a decent night’s sleep, then low and behold it’s the same thing again! So I’ll actually have a routine which I think is going to give me some opportunity to do some more writing – I’ll look forward to that.”
MV: So, how do you find inspiration for your music?
SO: “You know what, other people’s music. I’ve been listening to a lot of Jason Isbell (Singer/Songwriter from Alabama), he’s like a character writer, he writes narrative. Many times folks hear a tune and assume it’s autobiographical but it doesn’t have to be, his work proves that. Jason has themes that maybe I feel emotional about but it doesn’t mean that it’s about me per se and I like that, I find it/him inspiring. So remember that name Jason Isbell and you can thank me later! He is such a powerful song writer, you’re going to love him Musicvein and if you don’t I’ll be very disappointed in you! So I leave you no choice.” (we both erupt in laughter, no pressure Sunny, no no, no pressure at all!)
MV: Now in May you’ll be touring with Rock/Folk musician Teddy Thompson, how did this come about?
SO: “Well I’ve known of Teddy for ages. Ethan my drummer is also in Teddy’s band and it was through his coaxing that Teddy and I did a duet. Teddy’s voice, his delivery, his phrasing is just amazing. Yes I know he’s Richard and Linda Thompson‘s son but as far as I’m concerned I don’t give a shit about that, he’s just a beautiful musician it has nothing to do with his heritage. And so might I add is the woman who he’s touring with Kelly Jones – she’s nothing short of excellent. I’m just so excited that I get to open not only for friends but people I love to listen to! The minute I’m done with my set I’m gonna head into the audience and drink them in along with everyone else.”
MV: Will you be on the whole tour or just select dates?
SO: “I haven’t done a tour like this in over a decade! I’ll be doing 24 dates in 28 days and I can’t tell you how much I’ve been trying to think about what the hell I’m going to put in my suitcase! You don’t want to over pack, that’s the worst thing in the world when you’re travelling but the damn weather over here is so shitty that I’ll have to have a rain coat and a light jacket blah blah blah.”
MV: Lol well yeah the weather isn’t great at the moment but hopefully by May it should brighten up with you bringing a little LA sunshine!
SO: “Yeah I’m hoping so, I complain a little but I do love the UK and looking forward to seeing the English countryside, I hope these April showers will indeed bring some May flowers!”
MV: Oh No, you’re just trying to butter us up now! Too late the damage is already done!
SO: “No! Hahaha I really do love England! Seriously though with this tour I get excited about the quality of the venues we’ll be performing at like Union Chapel, it is just GORGEOUS! I know they won’t all be reclaimed churches but non the less they are beautiful venues we’ll be playing in. I hope you can all make it, I really can’t wait to see as many fans there as possible.”
Take it With Me is available to buy now in iTunes
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