Posted By McClain Johnson ~ 21st April 2016
Eleanor Friedberger is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She is an acclaimed solo artist and is also a member of the Fiery Furnaces. Eleanor recently discussed her approach to songwriting, the creative atmosphere of college towns and advice to artists just starting out. Eleanor Friedberger plays The Bottleneck April 26th.
You come from a musical family. What was your earliest musical memory?
There are too many to know which came first. Probably sitting in the choir loft, watching my grandmother sing.
What was the first album you bought?
The first single I bought was an Eurythmics 7″ of “Sweet Dreams.” I played it on my Fisher Price record player. I think the first tape I bought was the soundtrack to the movie Stand By Me or Paul Simon’s Graceland. The first CD I bought was Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy.
You are a multi-instrumentalist. What was the first instrument you learned how to play?
I learned guitar first. My brother bought me an electric guitar for Christmas and wrote down a few chords in a spiral notebook and charts for “Sweet Jane” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
How does your creative approach work when writing songs? Do you start with lyrics or melody first?
I start with the lyrics first, probably 95 percent of the time.
What inspires you lyrically?
Conversations– first-hand or overheard, text messages, lines from movies, awkward situations.
What was the first song written for New View?
The first songs written, and the ones I spent the most time on were “All Known Things” and “Open Season.”
You’re playing The Bottleneck April 26th. What do you enjoy most about playing Lawrence?
I think of Lawrence as an archetypal Midwestern college town. I spent a lot of time as a teenager hanging out in Champaign-Urbana, IL, so I feel very at home in that environment. I can easily sink into the laid-back, creative atmosphere.
What are your hobbies outside of music?
For the past few years I’ve been trying to hone my DIY home repair skills; everything from painting, dry wall mudding, hanging insulation, gardening, tree pruning, etc.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career?
Accepting that I don’t have a plan B.
What advice would you give to musicians just starting out?
You have to be okay with living in the moment and not know where things will take you from month to month. That kind of instability isn’t for everyone. Oh, and practice!