We recently dispatched editor Andrew Belonsky to chat with Price about this video, her unquantifiable influences and why people need to stop talking “gay”.
AB: How are you? I just watched the “Freedom” video. Itâ€™s very good!
KP: Iâ€™m glad you like it. I did it myself. Actually, I got my first ever video camera as a gift from my father and I had never used a camera before, but I figured Iâ€™d have some fun with it.
AB: Where did you get the footage?
KP: Thereâ€™s two shows â€“ the actual live footage: one is from a performance I did at Mo Pitkins in New York and the other one is at the Highline Ballroom last month supporting the Groove Collective. Then I went to Coney Island to shoot the bumper cars and roller coasters. And I went over the Brooklyn Bridge on my bicycle â€“ itâ€™s really hard to hold the camera steady and look off the bridge while youâ€™re pedaling.
AB: Itâ€™s nice to hear a musician who is using her platform to â€“ â€œFreedomâ€ is a call to action and itâ€™s also asking people to live their lives as openly as freely as possible. Right?
KP: Weâ€™re in an interesting time in American culture where weâ€™ve earned â€“ our generation, the generation before us â€“ a certain amount of freedom in who we are and how we live our lives. Weâ€™ve combated slavery, fought for all kinds of civil liberties â€“ weâ€™re at a point now where prejudice against gay people exists as the last â€œrespectableâ€ prejudice. Weâ€™ve made all this progress and now weâ€™re at a point where history and politics is going through a really odd stage. I felt the need to question the muscle of freedom â€“ the idea that if we donâ€™t use it, we lose it. I didnâ€™t want to be angry or preachy, but itâ€™s definitely question mark. What are we going to do with this enormous liberty that weâ€™ve earned and continue to push for? What are they worth to us? What do we do with it?
AB: On your MySpace page is says you â€œsound likeâ€ â€œKirsten Priceâ€ and youâ€™re influenced by â€œKirsten Priceâ€. Arenâ€™t you cheeky! Who are your influences?
KP: Maybe that was a little narcissistic! I sang in a lot of choirs as a kid â€“ gospel choirs, I sang in medieval choirs. My education in music was from singing in lots of different choral groups. I listened to a lot of classical music, romantic. The vocal thing: I luckily have a vocal tone thatâ€™s recognizable and difficult to emulate. My music is genre bending â€“ itâ€™s not very traditional.
We have very strict roles that different cultural groups play in music. We have rock, we have gospel and we have all these boxes that weâ€™re put in. Since [my] music sort of has a life, an identity, of its own. I didnâ€™t really know where to put it, so I just put my name on it. I didnâ€™t know what I was referencing. Vocally, I guess I reference the time when â€“ can I call it the secularization of gospel music â€“ when people just started reaching for notes and bending them: the type of thing that Aretha Franklin would do or Ray Charles would do: not that Iâ€™m anything like that, but thatâ€™s the kind of way I emote.
AB: Itâ€™s interesting that you say you didnâ€™t know where to put your music. I was one of the millions of people and watched and cringed during the MTV music awards. Iâ€™m not sure if you â€“
KP: You know what, I didnâ€™t watch. The mainstream music industry, the mainstream labels â€“ itâ€™s a slippery slope just in terms of financial survival. I donâ€™t pay too much attention to the product.
AB: One of the things that I noticed watching that is â€“ not necessarily a merger, but more collaboration – between rock and hip-hop and gospelâ€¦ Those boxes arenâ€™t as clearly defined as they â€“
KP: Itâ€™s great! I also think a lot of artists are forced into collaborations just in terms of guaranteeing coverage. A lot of labels make label mates do things together. While to an artist that may be a necessary evil, but it is producing interesting things.
AB: So, whom are you listening to right now?
KP: Oh, thatâ€™s a tough one. Hereâ€™s my dirty little secret: I donâ€™t. I end up listening to whatever is pumped into me in retail stores, in gyms, friendâ€™s cars â€“ but in terms of active listening, the kind of listening we do when weâ€™re teenagers, when weâ€™re sit alone in a room and really absorb itâ€¦ I canâ€™t do that since Iâ€™ve been obsessively creating my own music, but I should be listening moreâ€¦
AB: I know you donâ€™t want to discuss being gay, but â€“
KP: Itâ€™s so boring.
AB: It doesnâ€™t need to be discussed, obviously, but we have a lot of stars out there that do happen to be gay, but donâ€™t discuss itâ€¦ There are two perspectives: the more you discuss it, the more it becomes an issue that leads to backlash, etc. Of course you donâ€™t need to make a big deal out of it, because everyoneâ€™s the same in the end, but another part of me thinks it is important to discuss it because you become a role model. What do you say about that?
KP: I think itâ€™s important not to hide it. I think your sexual orientation â€“ peopleâ€™s sexuality â€“ is a beautiful, big part of who they are, but I think that the trap that we all fall into, especially when dealing with peopleâ€™s creative output, is that we focus on their sexual orientation, or anything about their identity, rather than what theyâ€™re doing as artists. We shoot ourselves in the foot in how we represent ourselves in the media, because itâ€™s really. Weâ€™re individual artists and itâ€™s about what we do. If was going to talk to Elton John, for example, I would be far more interested in his work than how he feels about being a Caucasian male. Or how he feels about being homosexual, rather than heterosexual. Those things are a given and theyâ€™re not really â€“ if we focus in on them, weâ€™re missing the point on who he is and what he is doing. Itâ€™s not something he should hideâ€¦ If Iâ€™m talking to Aretha Franklin, Iâ€™m not going to say, â€œHow does it feel to be an African-American woman in the music industry?â€ That may be something that sheâ€™d put in her memoirs, but to focus in on that and making it an issue, I think is a little counterproductive.
Price will be performing this Friday at Joe’s Pub in New York. In addition to playing tracks from her EP, Price will also be performing very special track: “Possibilities,” which was originally penned for Michael Hutchison of INXS fame.