Los Angeles-based musician Linda Strawberry spent nearly seven years on the road. She ran away from home at eighteen. She has toured with the Smashing Pumpkins as a sound engineer and appeared on Billy Corgan’s solo album. Her Mormon family fears for her soul and her brother’s a missionary in Indonesia. Think this 26-year old doesn’t have anything to say about home? Well, you’re wrong, because she’s got plenty to share.
Our editor and Strawberry spent two weeks trying to get in touch, but technical difficulties and swollen throats prevented a conversation until this weekend. Read what transpired, after the jump. Oh, and we’ve also included Strawberry’s track, “Fuck You, I’m Beautiful”.
Linda Strawberry: Hello?
Andrew Belonsky: Hello, is this Linda?
AB: Hi. It’s Andrew from Queerty.
LS: Hi! I’m so glad we could finally connect!
AB: How are you feeling today?
LS: A lot better. I may have a few coughing attacks while I’m talking to you, but I’m feeling much better.
AB: Let me ask you a question: where were you raised?
LS: U-tah! It was in Orem, Utah.
AB: That’s right. You were a Mormon, if I remember correctly.
AB: Tell me about that. How many sibling did you have?
LS: I have a small family in my extended family. My mom had six kids: three girls, three boys. I have about a hundred first cousins. My mom has eight brothers and sisters and my dad has seven – so, I think…I’m not really sure. There are so many aunts and uncles, I lose track.
AB: What was it like growing up with so many cousins and siblings? Did you feel like you got lost in the shuffle?
LS: Well, there are so many kids in Utah that you have to work really hard to stand out, especially because all the kids are overachievers, for the most part, because of the culture. Everyone plays instruments, everyone’s trying really hard. There are not that many outside influences. I also have two sisters with disabilities, so with all their medical problems, I was really just the invisible one that took care of the kids. It wasn’t until I got into high school when I started to play my music and perform that I started to get any attention at all. I was the quiet one. I was really, really quiet, if you can believe it.
AB: I can’t believe it.
LS: No one can believe it now! Even when I was working for Billy [Corgan] – I was eighteen through twenty-one – I was really quiet. I was just an engineer. I was in the background, so I didn’t really talk that often. I came out of my shell when I was twenty-two.
AB: How did that happen?
LS: I had my heart massively broken for the first time. I fell in love and it was just such a huge mess – a chaotic breakup. I came back to LA and I was completely on my own for the first time. I could create a whole new identity without anyone having pre-judgments of me. I was able to figure out who that was. When I started being creative and letting myself make art and music, it naturally came out.
This here’s Strawberry’s aforementioned song, “Fuck You, I’m Beautiful”.
Billy Corgan left his mark on Strawberry: he christened her stage name.
AB: You had to recreate yourself. You were no longer Linda Michelle Rowberry?
LS: Yeah, actually, I’ve been building up since I was sixteen, I wanted to be an artist and see all this stuff. It was one of those things that was in my imagination. Strawberry was a nickname since I was little girl because I loved Strawberry Shortcake and my real name was Rowberry. When I was met Billy and I was eighteen, my nickname was Strawberry, so he never knew whether to call me Linda or Strawberry. The first time I was on-stage at a rock show was the very last Smashing Pumpkins show when they broke up in 2000. Billy introduced me as “Linda Strawberry: a pop-star from Romania.” [Laughs] I loved it! So I decided to stick with it..
AB: What do your parents think?
LS: Oh. They freaked out completely when I first left Mormonism [at] eighteen. I knew I was more open-minded than Mormonism would allow me to be, so I ran away. I didn’t talk to them for two years. It was so horrible, because they basically think that I’m really not going to be with them for eternity. They don’t take it lightly. Now they’re so cool, because they realize I’m not rebelling against them, I’m not rebelling against my religion, I’m just simply being myself. Even when I go home now, I go to church because I think it’s interesting and I can sit there and meditate, but people will come up to me and say that I’m going to burn in hell and they hope I come back into the fold: all these crazy things.
AB: Do you believe in heaven?
LS: Yeah – well, I believe in God: God as an energy. I think about those things constantly. I think that God is in everything, but I think that God is basically positive energy and love. Anything that gets you up in the morning and keeps you creating and doing all the things to make yourself stronger, like intelligence and independence. I think that the opposite of that also is God. I actually think all of it is. I don’t know how to describe it. I think that our flaws and positive attributes are all part of the same energy core.
AB: Let’s talk about – [your publicist] Johnny Royal described you as bisexual. You are currently living in Los Angeles with your boyfriend. Tell me: have you ever had a relationship with a woman?
LS: Yes, I have. I’ve never actually labeled myself “bisexual,” because I think inherently everybody is. I don’t think there’s anybody on this planet hasn’t had attraction or thoughts about the same-sex. I don’t think that’s possible. I have fallen in love with a few girls. It was natural to me. I didn’t even think about it. It’s when you start telling other people that you have to put labels on it. I have been really in love with at least three girls. I’ve noticed that there was so much stigma, even when I tell my best-friends, so I’ve kept it to myself a lot. Until now. I don’t care now. Everybody around here in LA knows that about me, but I’ve never really labeled myself.
AB: You describe yourself in your MySpace page – you say, “I am new media savvy. I understand and enjoy this new networking world”. Do you think that the concept of home, being rooted somewhere is archaic? Do you think it’s outdated?
LS: I think it’s necessary. I think everybody needs to feel that sense of belonging somewhere. I think it’s necessary for the human spirit. Even when I’d be on tour, I would still feel lonely, because I didn’t have a place to go home to. I was always up in the air. Now if I go away, I dream of coming back home and I know I can come back here and get in my own bed and have that to come back to to rejuvenate myself. Even when I go home for Christmas to see my family. It’s so comforting that I have a place to go.
Linda’s wall reflects her aural obsession.
AB: Are you going home this Christmas?
LS: Yes. I’m so excited. I have two nieces – three and five: the perfect age. They’re always wearing princess costumes. They’re two little cuties. I don’t see them that often, so I’m really excited to go. I have two shows with Royal Bliss. They’ve been my friends for eight years. They’re non-Mormons in Utah, so it’s fun hanging with them.
AB: Do you consider yourself to be a patriotic person?
LS: Yes, I am a patriot, but I’m very disillusioned right now with the state of our country. I think since i’ve traveled the world, I have a different view, because I’ve seen other countries. I’ve been everywhere. I think of the world as a unified world instead of – you know, I have this one place that I can be and be happy. My family has never been outside of Utah.
LS: Well, actually, my parents have traveled a little bit with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but my sisters and brothers – they haven’t traveled and been exposed to other cultures, but my brother Tim is in Indonesia right now being a missionary, but even that experience is very sheltered by the Mormon church. I could live somewhere else and still feel like a patriot, because this is where my roots are, but I would like to see our government get cleaned up and there’s a lot of systems in our country that are broken. I don’t want to be a pessimist, but I don’t really see them changing very soon unless they can get radical changes in the government.
AB: You were saying your brother’s in Indonesia right now being a missionary. What do you think of missionaries?
LS: I’m so proud of him. He’s there to be a Mormon missionary, but most of what he’s doing there is service. You can’t talk to your family or friends for two years. They’re 19-20 year old boys. That alone blows my mind, because most 19-20 year old boys are going crazy and missionary work is the last thing I think they would be doing. But these boys go out there and they can’t date or even really look at women that way, they’re just out there to serve for two straight years. All they do is pray and … I think just the character building thing, take the religion out of it, I think that’s going to make him strong for his entire life. That’s going to really serve him in the future. I wish they weren’t preaching a religion that will take away the freedom of thought, but sometimes people find so much security in that. It gives people some sort of answer, so that they can ground themselves: people who have lived in chaos their whole life.
AB: Let’s switch gears and talk about your music. What do you have coming up?
LS: I’m so excited finally – finally, man – there’s just been so much fucking bullshit with my music. I had twenty-four songs for The Lost Record and I only needed six – five main songs and one instrumental – and I have all these other songs leftover from the Chrysalis debacle and then I have over a hundred songs from The Lost Record. I’m sorting through those and planning on making 2008 my year of music, where I have several projects that I put out. I have a piano record that I’m going to do and then I have another rock record and then I want to put out the rest of The Lost Record in February. That’s probably going to be my next release. If I wanted to, I could release fifty or sixty songs. That wouldn’t make much business sense, but I could.
AB: Do you record at home?
LS: I record at home on my laptop and at people’s houses and in studios: where ever I can get my hands on gear. I’m a total tech nerd. I love – I can set up a home studio and make something with it really easily. People think they need all this stuff, but everybody could have their own studio for like $2000. Just get basic ProTools and a simple G4 and a $500 mic. That’s all you need, really. Well, and imagination. I’m glad it’s so easy now. I hope more and more people make music.
Headline image by Ashley Walters.
[Editor’s Note: For the record, Strawberry only had one coughing fit. I could tell she wanted to let out a few more, but kept a lid on it.]
Check out Strawberry’s MySpace page!
Linda Strawberry: Hello?
Andrew Belonsky: Hello, is this Linda?
AB: Hi. Itâ€™s Andrew from Queerty.
LS: Hi! Iâ€™m so glad we could finally connect!
Including this makes it look, right off the start, like the most amateurish interview ever conducted.
As to the content, Linda Strawberry is a excellent example of how the internet’s democratization of the music industry has a nasty downside. Back in the day, there were some prohibitive requirements for getting such undue fawning: meeting Lou Pearlman, signing to an MTV-friendly record label, tireless self-promotion at the nation’s shopping malls, name-dropping. Now all it takes is some glitzy photography, ‘basic ProTools and a simple G4 and a $500 mic,’ and a Myspace page. Which is not to say the name-dropping doesn’t hurt; I don’t have the audio recording of this interview, but judging from the transcript, I would reckon it took between 80 seconds and 2 and a quarter minutes for her to refer to Billy Corgan by his first name.
What’s the gentile equivalent of ‘oy vey’?
That interview and the recent surge of Strawberry “interviews” reeks of a Public Relations guy begging every website he can think of to do an “interview” with one of their clients…LOL.
As a pumpkins fan, I’ve followed Lind Rowberry’s (Strawberry..really dumb choice for a stage name) career and have found it to be a lesson in how not to market yourself as a musician.
Sure, she’s toured with Billy..blah blahstanding in the background, posing and plinking along to a canned track…in the end she doesn’t play her OWN shows and baits her fans with al sorts of “things to come”. She doesn’t seem to have a band even. WTF? It all seems like a big con game.
Lately the only thing she’s done that’s noteworty is try to glom on to all the internet hot ones..Crocker, Tila, some lame ass metal queen and more. She thinks that name dropping gives her a legitimate status. People aren’t that stupid. Having a presence on the internet is not important unless you actually back it up with doing what musician does…PLAY SHOWS. The Pumpkins had a lifespan of about 12 or so years and established themselves with heavy touring in the beginning….Linda is fast approaching half of that span and seems to have played about 6 or seven shows as Linda Strawberry. What a crock this interview is.
What everybody above said
She started with a bang, but she’s ending with a whimper
i dont play more shows because im incredibly shy..but im trying to get over it.
I think none of who posted above really know what they are talking about. Except Linda. She is a true artist. If you are such a fan of the pumpkins than maybe you should consider that Billy endorses her. Also it is not Linda who brings Billy up in interviews all of the time. It is the one who is doing the interviewing.
People are so judgmental. It’s about music, and however you can get it out to your fans. She went the record industry route and it wasn’t for her. The industry is so screwed up at the moment, we need artist that are multifaceted.
Linda? You there? Do you actually think that there aren’t tons of other people out there who aren’t shy and have to get on a stage…that’s no excuse. You talk SO much shit and do nothing. I if you actually got your shit togather and learned the songs with a band your shyness about playing would go away because you would actually know the damn material. You are wasting away on the internet and it’s fucking bullshit…always some fucked up series of excuses about why you aren’t playing out.
Oh and Kelly, STFU. You are full of crap and your words are meaningless. Who gives afuck if BILLY “endorses her” (wtf does that mean?? is she a tennis shoe?). Billy is meaningless and is fast becoming pathetic. I wouldn’t want his “endorsement”, most people, even his fans, hate him. You are obviously young and dumb and don’t know shit about being an “Artist”. An artist works…it’s not about having an internet presence and talking about shit you’d LIKE to do. You make art, show it and hopefuilly sell it. That is what an artist does. Linda is SO all over the place and, lately, likes to tag herself as this glorious ADD chick, like it’s an excuse and a charming state.
Linda’s in a swan dive because she goes on the internet and talks shit…sets herself up for all this crap she talks about, creates stupid situations where people are waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting for all these things and then??? NOTHING.
If you, LINDA, would like to regain the respect you once had, you should just fucking disappear, find a real band, support your band by WORKING at it, learn this shit inside and out (I saw you at a show a while back in LA acoustic thing with band) it was SO thin…you could tell that everyone was tentative because they weren’t immersed in the material…they didn’t completely know it…it was shaky and you should know better than to go out there like that…you’re an artist??? you’re “acoustic” solo shows, the ones on video…c’mon, get it together. Show some RESPECT for the songs you’ve written by presenting them in their absolute BEST form. You’re way more concerened with your persona and it’s obvious in that the music is second in terms of quality. Why don’t you just put some fucking jeans on and a t-shirt and try to let the music take first row????
The excuses caught up with you a LONG time ago and that’s why people stopped coming to your board, that’s why people on netphoria rip you so hard, that’s why people on blamo rip you so hard. Your little group of myspace sycophants are gonna figure it out pretty soon too..in fact
I think many of them have already done just that….you ain’t no Tila Tequila…at least Tila is immersed in what she does..she’s committed to being an internet nothing, a symbol of the decline of MTV…you are committed to ZERO and it’s very apparent.
You’re gonna tour with the Red Paintings? yeah right…you don’t have the fucking balls, those people will put you to shame because they are also committed. If you do get this GIG, you had better get your shitt together…sounds like another round of bullshit to me…typical.
Shy? you aren’t shy…you’re fucking lazy.
Comments are closed.