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Welcome, brothers and sisters!
This is episode number 175 of the Top Left Corner. I’m your host, Jay Velázquez, and I do thank you for tuning in. This show was released Thursday, October 20th, 2022. And it is a I don’t know if it’s a plus-size show, but it’s definitely a jam packed show. We have a very special guest, sort of semi local musician, a singer songwriter. Eliza Edens is going to be with us for almost the entire hour. And in fact, any of that hour that isn’t taken up with our conversation will be taken up with two songs. That’s right. You heard it. Two songs, not just one, but two that Eliza has graciously allowed us to share with you, dear listeners. So it is going to be a special treat.
Connect with Eliza Edens
Eliza is performing to a sold out show to a sold out venue tomorrow night, which is the 21st at the Five Corners Cafe on Cold Spring Road. That’s Route 7, just south of Williamstown. And unfortunately, it didn’t even occur to me to ask because I haven’t had a haven’t had a lot of live shows in the last couple of years. But I didn’t I did not ask if I could get a couple of tickets to give away as sort of a contest because they are at capacity now. However, hopefully this interview will make up for that and of course, links to her brand new full length release will become the flowers is is in the show notes so you can listen on Bandcamp if you like. And if you go into the show, I encourage you to listen before you go so you can hear the hear the words first. Although if you’ve got a good ear, maybe you’ll be able to catch enough.
Just I love knowing kind of the words before I go into a show, but that’s just me. But again, tomorrow night, I think Doors open at six, show begins at seven at the Five Corners Cafe in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Not to be missed. If you have tickets. If you don’t have tickets, maybe, who knows? Maybe somebody you know will have to beg off and we’ll give them to you. You might get lucky. So if we’re going to fit this entire. Show in with these two tunes. I should probably stop talking and I will write and we will get to that interview with Eliza right after these words from FEMA and the Ad Council.
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Album Credits: We’ll Become the Flowers
Released October 14, 2022
All songs & lyrics by Eliza Edens
Recorded & mixed by Dex Wolfe
Produced by Pat Keen & Dex Wolfe
Additional production by Eliza Edens & Shane Leonard
Additional production by Matt Bedrosian on “I Needed You”
Additional songwriting on “I Needed You” & “Westlawn Cemetery” by Dex Wolfe
Additional bass arranging on “How” by Nate Sabat
Mastered by Huntley Miller
Photography by Matt Gaillet
Design & layout by Elena Foraker
Recorded in February, July & September 2021 in Minneapolis, MN
Eliza Edens on Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Aux Percussion (1, 7)
Pat Keen on Upright & Electric Bass, Synth, Backing Vocals (9), Acoustic Guitar (7)
Shane Leonard on Drums, Aux Percussion, Fiddle (2), Keys (3), Backing Vocals (6), Programming
Dex Wolfe on Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar (7), Lap Steel, Aux Percussion (7), Backing Vocals (9), Programming
CD RELEASE PARTY
When: Friday, October 21, 2022; Doors at 6:00 p.m., Show at 7:00 p.m.
Where: The Store at Five Corners, 4 New Ashford Road (Route 7), Williamstown, Mass.
Tickets: SOLD OUT
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BIO: Eliza Edens
(from Eliza Eden’s official bio)
On Eliza Edens’ sophomore album We’ll Become the Flowers, she seeks to understand what happens after the end. Whether grappling with heartache or a loved one’s mortality, the Brooklyn-based songwriter reimagines endings not as finite events but as devotional experiences that give way to new beginnings. Edens takes inspiration from folk luminaries such as Nick Drake, Karen Dalton and Elizabeth Cotten, sowing her compositions with introspection born from her own grief. What emerges is a glowing collection of songs that serve as a map through tumult, toward hope.
Edens sings and writes with an equally tender reverie as in her 2020 debut album Time Away From Time. But where We’ll Become the Flowers diverges, is in its narrative vulnerability. Each song is bursting: with sorrow, with anger, with the miracle of existence. “I wrote this album out of emotional necessity,” Edens says. “I had just gone through a breakup. And around the same time, my mother was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease. I was spending a lot of my time trying to understand what it means to watch the hopeful person who raised me seem to slowly fade away before my eyes.” As the pandemic loomed, Edens turned to music: “This project was a rope I used to pull myself out of misery, to view the despair I was feeling from a different angle. It was also my escape.”
After a successful crowdfunding campaign, Edens recorded We’ll Become the Flowers during a two-week session in July 2021 in a Minneapolis attic. She worked with her trusted friends and collaborators – co-producer and bassist Pat Keen, audio engineer and guitarist Dexter Wolfe, and drummer Shane Leonard. Going into each session, they envisioned an atmosphere of experimentation which led them to reconceptualize many of Edens’ songs. “I Needed You,” for example, changed from “a glum breakup waltz” into “a song that’s feeling good about feeling bad,” Edens says, recalling Leonard’s words after he suggested changing the time signature.
In We’ll Become the Flowers, Edens’ voice rings out sweet yet sorrowful; playful yet certain; hers is a voice capable of embodying emotion in all its complexity. When Edens asks, in the record’s opener, “How do I get there?” she stretches out the last word as if to emphasize its infinite possibilities. Yet Edens never remains in the abstract; instead, she takes us along on her emotional journey, speaking honestly, intimately, and specifically about her process: “I tried to start by weeding through the trauma in my bones,” she sings in the next verse of “How.” “To rearrange the memories / Forgive and not keep score.” In “Tom and Jerry,” Edens’ songwriting becomes more whimsical. “Oh it’s getting so hard to choose / And I’m chewing on all the alternate routes,” Edens sings, using a playful rhyme with alliterative echo.
In “I Needed You,” Edens uses the repetition of her hook to convey how her feelings toward her former lover have shifted over time. The first time she sings, “I needed you,” her voice is steeped in nostalgia, romanticizing the lover’s “flannel shirt and calming words.” But the final time Edens sings, “I needed you,” her tone has shifted: she’s harsher, irreverent even – and as if in response to remembering how much she thought she needed them, she breaks into laughter. But Edens’ conviction as a songwriter comes across most clearly in “For the Song.” “And when the rage comes around,” she sings, “And every critic’s tearing up her ground / The truth becomes power.” In this last phrase, her voice is as direct and unwavering as her words.
Creating We’ll Become the Flowers started as a way for Edens to plant her grief. What took root, however, is a series of offerings. These come in the form of scenes that are both familiar yet deeply personal to Edens: singing loudly on the highway, wandering a graveyard, dancing in the wilderness, watching her mother plant flowers, wishing to create her own shine, reminding herself that the only seed worth planting is hope. Through Edens’ words, we glimpse the possibility of change, of forgiveness, of acceptance and, in numinous spurts, joy. If we see Edens’ album as a conversation—between Edens and herself and between Edens and the listener—then the conversation opens with a question that she poses in the first song, “But how do I get there?” In the album’s denouement, “Julia,” Edens returns to this question, changed, and with a final offering: “The pen is in your hand,” she reminds us. “And the key is in your certainty.”
NTRVW: Eliza Edens
Top Left Corner: And with me on the line via Skype is Eliza Edens. Eliza, thank you so much for being on the Top Left Corner.
Eliza Edens: Yeah, great to be here, Jason. Thanks so much for having me.
Top Left Corner: So, you know, I have to say, I had an inside line on getting your your latest release. And, you know, it was it was like like I had connections in the family, you could almost say. But I finished listening to We’ll Become the Flowers, which just dropped like the 14th or something like that.
Eliza Edens: Mm hmm. Yeah, October 14th.
Top Left Corner: And I, I actually immediately got out my my reporter’s notebook and started taking notes, and I never do that. So I’ve got a lot I want to ask about, and I’m sure that there’s a lot you can tell us about. First of all, this is deeply, deeply personal album, I can tell. And if there’s any place you don’t want to go, it’s like too personal. It’s like just for you. Just, you know, just say, Hey, that’s too personal, buddy. Back off. I’ll be okay with that.
Eliza Edens: Yeah, definitely appreciate that.
Top Left Corner: Well, you know, it’s, you know, sometimes just because you’re an artist and you put things out into the world doesn’t mean that people have to understand exactly what you mean. You know, it’s it’s it’s not your job as an artist to to explain things to everybody. So that’s my take on it. So let’s first start with the obvious. Your previous full length release was back in 2020, I think it was in April, pretty much as the world was shutting down and everything went crazy. And this album and that was time, “Time Away from Time.” Back in 2020, this one “We’ll Become the Flowers” is a very. Different. It’s got a very different feel to it. How much would you say the pandemic contributed to the evolution of your art?
Eliza Edens: Well, with the absence of shows, I was sort of looking for a way to still play music, obviously. And I, I sort of used the time to work on my guitar playing. I started taking lessons from a friend on Zoom, and he is a really incredible finger style guitar player like Delta Blues kind of stuff, Elizabeth Cotton and John Fahey, and he taught me some of those songs. So that sort of, I guess, evolved the guitar style a bit in comparison in comparing the two albums. Right. And then I guess in general, I just sort of wanted I started writing songs with a band more in mind in the songwriting process, so there was just more space for. Other instruments and grooves and experimentation in these songs as compared to the last. The songs on “Time Away from Time,” which are were really were not written with like a rhythm section in mind. And yeah so I think that’s the guitar lessons trying to work on my craft and the fact that there was a lot of time for that. While there were no shows happening.
Top Left Corner: Right.
Eliza Edens: And then just, yeah, just sort of evolving and changing as a songwriter.
Top Left Corner: Yeah, I, you know. And time away from time is a very it is a very. Commendable debut release. As a singer songwriter, I can definitely hear the the beginnings of. Of you trying some of the things that ended up appearing on We’ll Become the Flowers, the the first album. A lot of arpeggiated in the guitar work less of that this time around. More different styles of of of as you said you know finger finger style playing and yeah the compositions in this new album We’ll Become the Flowers They’re more fleshed out I guess. And now that now that I hear your explanation of the fact that you were thinking about in a fuller instrumentation, that makes total sense, and I really admire that you made such good use of that time thinking about, okay, I’ve got an indefinite amount of time, what can I do with it? What was it like taking taking guitar lessons online? Because I’ve been thinking about doing the same thing because I suck and I’d like to get even even half as good as you were on the first album.
Eliza Edens: Oh, yeah. Well, it’s funny cause I also teach guitar lessons online, so I’m on both ends of the both sides of the screen, I guess. I mean, this is a friend of mine who I had met in person before we knew each other. So it wasn’t too. I mean, of course it’s always better to take lessons in person is my opinion, but especially when you’re talking about technique and that kind of stuff. But. It was definitely it was still super helpful and we would get to a lot of like holding the guitar up very close to the computer screen so you can see exactly what a picking pattern is or something like that.
Top Left Corner: Huh? That’s interesting. Well, I’m not afraid of it. It’s with my schedule. It’s probably the best way to get started. And I actually have a I actually have a fellow that I interviewed several years ago who’s a hard rocker, but he teaches all kinds of guitar and he has been needling me. When are you going to start? When are you going to start? When you can start? Because you know, he’s going to give me X number of lessons at no cost. So I’m thinking, why not? I guess maybe it’s just fear. Maybe it’s just fear of doing that new thing the.
Eliza Edens: Way a good teacher will help you get over that. Over the fear through that. Yes.
Top Left Corner: I suppose there’s always going to be a little bit, no matter who you are, no matter.
Eliza Edens: How far along.
Top Left Corner: I was going to say along the journey, and that’s a question that I’m going to I’m going to ask about. But first, I wanted to know, did you do any house concerts during the pandemic? Lake. Virtual house. Virtual house, Counselor.
Eliza Edens: Oh. Let’s see. I. Gosh, I might have done. I was a finalist during the Kerrville Folk Festival virtually in May of 2020. So I probably played some things related to that online.
Top Left Corner: I know you’ve played physically at Club Passim, and I know they did. They did some virtual stuff as well during the pandemic. I don’t know if you were part of that, but I did.
Eliza Edens: I did camp their campfire festival. Oh, cool. Yes, a couple of times during the pandemic. They’re really wonderful people and great room, Great venue.
Top Left Corner: Yeah. So let’s let’s talk a little bit about this. This album will become the Flowers, which is not a. An eponymous title. It’s actually a verse in the song in one of the songs. It’s a verse in West Lawn. I think it is. And West Lawn Cemetery. Yeah. The the. You’re not at all hiding the fact that this is a massive relationship. Implosion. Composition. This is reasonably autobiographical. Somewhat half.
Eliza Edens: The song or the album?
Top Left Corner: Well, the whole album, it’s I think the liner notes, it says it’s definitely about a breakup or your and the aftermath. How much is is a direct lift from life and how much was sort of a variation on that theme?
Eliza Edens: Yeah, I mean, it’s a lot of it’s pretty autobiographical, but there’s, of course, details change in service of making the songs better. I think the phrase goes, Gosh, what is it? Something of something about like a good story. I’m not going to remember it.
Top Left Corner: I know the one I mean, though.
Eliza Edens: Doesn’t always tell the truth.
Top Left Corner: Yeah, yeah. And yeah. And the truth isn’t always. Yeah, we’re going to find that and I’ll put it in the show notes because you know it. I know it. We’ll put it in the show notes. Yeah. So here’s my thing. I’ve tried to and I’ve long since put my, my poetry journal in a hole in the ground where it belongs because I’m not a lyricist, but I have tried after a breakup and what I if I were to go back and look at those those attempts at capturing it in verse, I would not I would not have the success that you did. What are some of the benefits and what are some of the challenges to trying to distill those emotions into verse so close, so close to the actual events?
Eliza Edens: Yeah. Um, I took this songwriting workshop about a year ago from a really brilliant songwriter who I really respect and admire named Courtney Marie Andrews. Maybe you’ve heard of her and she had some choice words about that. She she said that when you. When you are going through a grieving experience or just some sort of like moving to a new place or just some sort of massive change in your life to really allow yourself to feel all the feelings associated with those that change and to really pour into the art you’re making at the time can sort of I mean, it’s healing for yourself in that way to emotionally process what’s going on. But at the same time, it sort of imprints those songs with some sort of special energy that is only sort of present in that time of sort of change and things possibly going awry. And I think that I mean, for one, like I just I just needed to write these songs to feel better and at the time and I think, um, yeah, they definitely do have that kind of imprint, the imprint of that time period on them. Like what I was thinking about how I was. How I played guitar, how I sang, how I thought about melodies. Yeah, I think. There’s something special about really applying to your applying yourself to your art in times of sort of massive life upheaval, because those are sort of like those like fissure points in our lives are when a lot of emotions sort of present themselves.
Top Left Corner: They kind of bubble up like the lava at the bottom of a volcanic fissure. Yeah, And you have to be know, you have to allow yourself maybe even force yourself to be vulnerable in a way that a lot of people would pay any amount of money to not have to be that vulnerable.
Eliza Edens: Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. But that’s also what what causes people to connect with songs.
Top Left Corner: So yeah. Yeah, it is. Yeah. And I’m writing writing because I write more prose obviously than poetry. But I have been told by writing coaches that you should never hold off on releasing an idea into the wild because you’re afraid that it won’t come again. You know that you won’t have another great idea like that again. The reason that you will have a great idea is that you release one and you make room in your brain for the next one to come down the pike. And I wonder if there’s a connection to that, that once you release those. Emotions or you distill them or channel them into words and melodies and harmonies. I wonder if that’s what allows you to progress as a songwriter. Maybe a little bit. I’m just throwing that out there.
Eliza Edens: Yeah, definitely. I agree with you. I think personally with just sort of thinking about my progression so far, I definitely once you sort of externalize something and you feel you can feel a sense of detachment from. The songs and the stories behind them and the sort of lived experiences, you can reflect on it and then be like, These are the things that I like about these songs and how they how we recorded them, how, how it all turned out. And these are the things that I want to work on. Or maybe I want to try something new or expand in a certain way or taper back in other ways. I think, yeah, there is something to be said for finishing a project which is a hard finish line to get to sometimes, but is very worth it because it can provide you with that. Yeah. Externalizing all this work that you’ve put into something and sharing it publicly with the world and then yeah, having more space in your iPhone voice Memos app for all the new weird songs that you write. Perfect, right?
Top Left Corner: Perfectly said, perfectly said. And I hope that when people go and buy this, this album, “We’ll Become the Flowers” at Bandcamp. The link to which will be in the show notes that they will read those liner notes and see just how big of a project this was. And maybe they’ll go back and look at the liner notes from your first release and see that this this really is a labor of love, not just heartache, but you’re sort of reclaiming yourself a lot in this. In this album, there’s a lot of. How should I say it? You you suggested that we play for the audience. I needed you. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I, I think, I think that’s the perfect song to play. It weaves between, like, sort of a bluesy breezy. Sort of feeling. But there’s this sort of tension in there, and it’s a punctuated tension. It’s a song that’s really about measured misery. Misery is my note there. Measured misery. And it’s. What do you mean by that? Well, what I mean by that is that. You’re kind of at this. Sort of. What the fuck just happened here? Stage. It sounds like, you know, you still kind of there’s a, there’s a level of, of of analysis that’s still going on. And it’s almost even though you’re singing to somebody, it’s less of an accusation. The way it comes across is more of like an an. More of expository writing, more of an analysis like, let’s see what just happened here, because this is what it seems like to me. And and boy, wow, I didn’t see that coming. Almost as if it was too like the pain had not all fully clobbered you yet. And that might not be your headspace or your heart space when you wrote it. But when I say measured misery, I mean I mean just that that there was a certain element of of dissection to it. Did that at all. Does that does that ring true for you or is it my my take here?
Eliza Edens: Yeah, I think some of that song is just sort of is is definitely the the muck of like emotionally processing situation but. Yeah. And sort of rummaging through all the details. That song I want to share because I’m just so proud of how it turned out production wise. And it was very much like that song in particular was very much a very collaborative effort when we were recording it, because when I brought it in, it was sort of this. Sort of waltz, and it was in a different time signature. It was like, I don’t want a simple house implement that The the one, two, three was different. It didn’t really have a groove to it. And then the drummer that we were working with, Shane Leonard, who you really incredible drummer and producer, was like, You should change the time signature of this and it’ll have like more of a kick to it. And rather than just being like a sort of a sad. Breakup Waltz. It will be one of those songs that sort of has. Sad lyrics, but has sort of this underground energy coming up from the rhythm section, which I think sort of gives it that sort of more breezy, mellow energy.
Top Left Corner: Yeah, it’s almost a contemplative. It’s contemplated without being moribund. Morose. Well, let’s listen to that right now here on the Top Left Corner.
[song: “I Needed You,” from Eliza Edens’ 2022 release, We’ll Become the Flowers]
“I Needed You,” from Eliza Edens. Yeah I absolutely can can hear that that collaboration that you’re talking about there and and that I think really speaks to what you were saying before about how you really open the doors for more pieces, more instrumentation on this album, which I just found to be so, so textured, so complex in places. There’s a lot of acoustic that comes that blends really seamlessly with synthetic sounds. Tell me about that a little bit. There’s a lot less of that. On your first album. How did you decide to bring in the it’s not a derogatory term, but the synthetic instrumentation?
Eliza Edens: Yeah, you’re talking about like more synth, like electronic kind of sound.
Top Left Corner: Yeah, you didn’t overdo them, but what was your decision on bringing them in?
Eliza Edens: Yeah, I mean, a lot of the a lot of the production decisions were sort of collaborative, but probably more of the ideas for synthetic electronic sounds came from my co-producers Dexter Wolf and Pat Quinn, who are have just for years and years and years since they were teenagers, been recording music and playing around and experimenting with song making and recording. And I think. Like their. We just want it to be experimental and just sort of play around with different sounds. The idea to have those like really sub bassy electronic drums on West Lawn Cemetery was an idea that at first I was really sort of opposed to because the guitar part for that is something that I, I just didn’t think they meshed like that, that guitar part and those electronic drums. But after sort of listening to it and just sort of experimenting and giving, giving myself permission to just let go of my grasp on my music a little bit, which I think is necessary when you’re working with people in this way. I really sort of loved how it gave this like low frequency depth to the song and you really like feel you feel it more like in your body, like the, like more it’s like, it’s like a heartbeat almost. And it sort of supports the guitar part in a cool way. Yeah, I think so much of acoustic like Roots rock is really just electric bass or upright bass, drums, guitar and guitar and more guitars. And I think just adding some synthetic sounds just adds some. Elements of freshness to the whole sonic palette.
Top Left Corner: Yeah.
Eliza Edens: So I think that’s sort of where we were going.
Top Left Corner: And in the digital green room where we were talking before, we we switched on the microphones. We were talking a little bit about how you’re really straddling the line between, you know, some very solid American roots singer songwriter persona. And then there’s also this sort of indie alternative feel to it. And when I first approached you about being on a podcast, in addition to the Top Left Corner, I was thinking indecent exposure, which is sort of my eclectic indie alternative show. But listening to it, I feel like it’s it tilts, you know, like 60% into the Cornbread Café, American roots. Do you do you find yourself. Scratching your head and wondering exactly where you fit in.
Eliza Edens: Definitely every day. I yeah, I have a strong I’ve developed like a strong love for Americana music and country songwriting. I really love Townes Van Zandt. I love Lucinda Williams, Blaze Foley, but I also really love a lot of alternative music. And I grew up listening to the Beatles and I like sort of the. Original alternative band just wanting to go in every direction sonically. So I think, yeah, I think I do sort of straddle that. That line of experimentation and alternative sounds combined with more traditional folk music.
Top Left Corner: Yeah, keep it up. I mean, keep them guessing that that would be my, my advice to you. Don’t, don’t feel like you’ve got to fit in. At least you’ll always have a home with one or more of my podcasts if you if you. But there’s a few things that I. A couple of other notes that I made. One of them is, is that your use of language has really, really gotten sophisticated in the between the first album and this one. And I liked the first album. I have such a fear of listening to sophomore efforts. I have this total dread because I want them to be as good as the first. And sadly, a lot of them aren’t, you know? And it’s sometimes it’s it’s a matter of the timing or them getting bad advice from the producer or whatever. But your second effort is, is just such you know, you can just see it plotted, you know, the points on the graph and you can see this is where Eliza experimented with this and this is where she became really adept at that. I told you I was going to lavished praise on you and here it is. So but but I think that really the sophistication I mean, we’ve been talking a lot about, you know, the composition, but I think the lyrics, the composition would not be carried as far without some really great poetry. I mean, when I was listening, I was thinking, okay, so I’m hearing the poetry that smacks of a of like a Jackson Browne or a Joni Mitchell, you know, a lot of analogy, a lot of really clever, unexpected turns of phrase. You didn’t have a lot of a lot of lyrics that I could predict, which I love. Not to say that there aren’t some, you know, old hackneyed expressions that you have to throw in there once in a while.
Eliza Edens: But but.
Top Left Corner: You know, but yours really, you know, took me by surprise quite a number of times. I think you said in Jimmy, come back, nobody to behold. And it was sort of sung in a way that made me feel like it was a double entendre. Nobody to behold is nobody to see, but nobody to hold also. And I’d know if you meant that or not. And then in the sung to see through you change from you sort of blend from to see through, then to see it through. And I’m wondering if if you can tell us about what are you seeing through? What are you seeing it through in that tune?
Eliza Edens: Yeah. I think. Yeah, that song is.
Top Left Corner: Kind of.
Eliza Edens: Dark. I sort of. It’s a pretty dark song. Yeah. I wrote that in, like, the depths of depths of winter, actually, sort of thinking about this Joni Joni Mitchell song, Urge for going. How she’s sort of like preparing to like she’s talking about how all the leaves are falling down. I don’t know. I haven’t listened to that song in a minute, but yeah, I was sort of in that same headspace. It’s like another winter in New York, too. And to see through, I think. It’s just sort of like it’s a song a little bit about meditation, actually, like letting the idea of just like letting your thoughts pass rather than engaging in them. And to see through, I think it’s just sort of. Um. It’s like resiliency. That’s sort of what I was sort of going forward that.
Top Left Corner: Well, as Northeasterners, whether it’s New England or New York, I guess we’re born and raised having to to to find that resiliency within ourselves. But the New York thing does kind of kind of remind me. It was sort of the last big question that I wanted to throw out there. And we can connect it to both Joni Mitchell and say, Simon and Garfunkel, who I hear a little bit of strains of of SAG from time to time in this album. And I wonder if that has to do with the New York folk sound that still must permeate in the sidewalks and the buildings and in the street lamps. What is it like being sort of having one foot in Brooklyn and one foot in the Berkshires or or in rural settings?
Eliza Edens: I think the fact that I grew up in a very rural setting made me want to really deeply experience living in the giant.
Top Left Corner: City.
Eliza Edens: Because like when I would grow up and I would like I went to this summer camp over the years when I was in high school and and worked there between summers and college. And there would always be these like cool New York City kids there who I just felt like you just I think you just grow up faster when you live in New York. And I was just always so curious about what life was like here. And every fall in high school, the high school choir, we would have to sell a bunch of cheesecakes to fundraise, to go to see a play on Broadway for the day. And we would go down to New York City. And I was just always so like, I don’t know, puppy. I’d just been in New York where there’s just so much happening and so much going on. And it was just culture shock. And I, I just really wanted to experience that. But it is a very it’s a very intense place. And it’s I don’t know, as someone who grew up in the woods and grew up playing in a brook and my back yard and going on hikes and stuff, I don’t know how long that I’ll be able to stay here because I feel like I was calibrated at birth to be in the woods. But it’s definitely it’s definitely fun and there’s just so many fascinating and talented and interesting people here to meet and hang out with and work with and spend time with, so.
Top Left Corner: Sure, sure. Yeah. Do you do you get to hit any of the the folk venues in New York? I know that it’s got a really long tradition, but obviously since since the pandemic hit, I don’t know that many of them have been open for two years. But do you find there to be a pretty solid folk scene and singer songwriter scene where you are?
Eliza Edens: Yeah, definitely. In Red Hook and in Brooklyn, there’s this place called the Jalopy Theater, and they are a pretty folk centric venue. There’s a tavern and then a theater next door, and they they do like lessons as well. And I think they have a small record label label and they’re very yeah, it’s a very community based venue. Um, and then there’s another and I think, gosh, they’ve been around for maybe, I don’t know, since 2003, I’m not sure. And then there’s another venue close to where I live. Called the Music Parlor, which is run by an artist. And it’s just a very great listening room and is great for folk music, but it’s sort of a very eclectic there’s jazz, there’s two sometimes and all sorts of stuff. So it’s very artist friendly. And then, yeah, there’s Rockwood Music Hall in Lower Manhattan, which is great to have. There’s always new, new spots.
Top Left Corner: Yeah, I’ve always wanted to go to the The Bitter End on Bleecker Street, which is maybe maybe cliche in itself, but they still have a lot of a lot of great new acts coming through. So you never know who is going to show up there that you’re going to be hearing about later. But yeah, I think that, you know, it’s so easy to forget how much folk and singer songwriter comes out of urban areas. It’s not all you know, it’s not all, you know, with your bare feet in the grass, you know, with your dipping your toes in the in the stream. And then last thing sort of a. On a sorrowful note, you dedicate both both albums to many people, including your mom, and you talk a little bit about your mom and. On this album you sing about it in and the fact that she’s going through a life change that is not part of your breakup. But it’s happening in tandem with with those those emotions. And I’m wondering if you felt like talking about that at all and how the the two. Deeply emotional happenings, events maybe played off of each other if they did. If they didn’t.
Eliza Edens: Yeah, definitely. I think. Yeah. My mom has always been the most supportive person with music. With my music. And yeah, even when I started taking piano lessons when I was a kid. And I think the fact that there’s sort of these multiple griefs that were happening at the same time really sort of. Shocked me in a way, and sort of led to the urgency of making this album. Just sort of realizing that life isn’t a guarantee and things. Things can happen that change your relationships all the time. And so really. Going for it and making it count is what I wanted to do with these songs. So yeah.
Top Left Corner: Yeah, I can understand that there does. Come a certain age and it’s different for every every child and every parent. When you have to think about those things that you don’t think about when you’re ten or 12 or even 16. And yeah, life, life kind of comes at you full force sometimes and rarely when you’re ready to take on anything more. It’s a good thing that our hearts are as flexible as they are and resilient as they are, because I have no idea how I would have made it through the pandemic if it weren’t for the the resiliency of of of spirit that that I’ve managed to, I guess, earn through fire and ice. So you have a show coming up. I know you had your your New York release party on the 14th. You’re going to be here in the Berkshires at the newly reopened iconic Five Corners cafe, which is the perfect place, probably not to cram 100 plus people, but certainly certainly 50 or 60 easy. And if the fire marshal doesn’t show up, probably 75. Yeah. No, no, we didn’t say that. What? Tell us about the event. Tell us about your feelings coming up and playing. As far as I know, that has not been a live music venue in my memory anyway.
Eliza Edens: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, yeah, we’re playing there on, I guess Friday the 21st is the date and I believe it’s, I think it’s sold out because there’s 49% capacity and my parents went all over town hanging up posters. So, um, they were very excited about the show. Um, but yeah, I actually haven’t seen the new space. I don’t know if it’s redone. Um.
Top Left Corner: Not much.
Eliza Edens: Maybe you can speak to that. Yeah. Okay. It’s bad. Yeah, but, um. Yeah, it should be really fun. And the venue owner or the Five Corner’s owner, Corey is very excited to host us, and, um, I think it should be a lot of fun. And there’s Carl Mullin’s new project is going to open. They’re called collect calls. Yeah. So we’re going to pack a whole band and a bunch of people in there and. And have some fun.
Top Left Corner: That’s fantastic. Yeah, is great. He, he, in addition to being a great musician himself and a good songwriter, he has done a lot to drive the local music scene forward here in North County in the Berkshires, by hosting his own barn concerts, which have attracted a great number of fans and some superior artists to to that loft. And it’s a lot of fun, you know, hanging out on the grass afterward. So, yes, So this is Friday, the 21st, I want to say. I’m going to get it wrong If I said I want to say it’s 7:00, but do you happen to know?
Eliza Edens: Yeah, I think it’s door six show at seven.
Top Left Corner: Okay, well, you know what? Let’s say 5:00 in order a sandwich and have a and have a glass of wine and then you’ll.
Eliza Edens: Short Five Corners.
Top Left Corner: The storied Five Corners. It is on Cold Spring Road, which is Route seven, probably about maybe three, three miles before you get to the village. Obviously, we’re telling this to people who already have tickets because it’s sold out. There’s nothing we can do about that. But you never know. You know, somebody might get get them as a gift or something. If I had thought about it, I would have I would have asked you for some some contest, some giveaway tickets the next time around. You know, I. I’ve known I’ve known your dad, Bill, actually, he was one of the first people to welcome me to Williamstown, so. Yeah. Yeah, actually, no, I started The Greylock Glass in January of 2015, and I didn’t know really that many people around. And he called me, and I’m not even sure how he got my phone number, but he called me and said, Who are you and what are you doing? Basically? And then because, you know, he’s kind of the, you know, the journalism scholar in town. Yeah. And so that that, you know, we’ve been buds ever since. And I actually just met your mom.
Top Left Corner: When I picked up this this CD. And she’s just the loveliest person. Oh, she’s so sweet. I just wanted to. I just wanted to take her home. I really did. So I’m glad to. I’m glad to. To have that inside. Like I said, that that family connection and getting the goods here. Well, as again, again, I’m going to say this is a must, must listen to album. In fact, sometimes I like to not know the songs before I go to a release party. I like to sort of have every single note and every single word strike me new. I’m not I don’t think I feel the same way about this one. I think if I were to go to the show, I would want to go to Bandcamp, buy the album, listen to it a couple of times, and really absorb the lyrics so that when you go to the show, you can just you can just focus on taking it in, you know, being into the whole experience. Do you recommend that people at least listen to it on Bandcamp?
Eliza Edens: Um, if they want. I mean, it’s like everyone experiences and digests music in such different ways. We’re all, we all process information so differently. So if.
Top Left Corner: It’s true, that’s.
Eliza Edens: Your calling.
Top Left Corner: Yeah, I know. I just. I want to make sure that because I’ve listened to the album twice now, back to front, to back straight through. And I just love every single word. You don’t have a you don’t have a an off word. You also don’t have any gratuitous key changes. Your key changes are all justifiable. You don’t do anything just because. And I just want everyone to to really get that sense of it. So again, lavish praise. I, I know that you’re probably going to want to take a break before going into the studio again, but have you already started gathering nuts for your next project?
Eliza Edens: Yeah, I actually did an artist residency in Colorado about a year ago in August 2021, so I wrote a bunch of new songs right after recording this album and was writing a lot last fall, but I haven’t really been writing much since this winter. So I mean, I have a whole nother collection of songs that’s like. Sort of more sad acoustic guitar, alternate tuning land breakup songs. But I kind of want to move in in a new direction. Just I want to play more sort of embodied rock and roll, honestly, and have a little more fun onstage.
Top Left Corner: Okay, well, maybe you can throw maybe can throw out some bonus like EPS in in between the albums and whatever the case, however you do it, I do hope that you will let the Cornbread Cafe know so that we can we can promote and and get the word out. And Eliza Edens, I want to thank you so much. You suggested hang on before you go. You suggested that we we take it we take us home with the title track off “Time Away from Time.” So we’re going to do that. Eliza, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to the Top Left Corner and I hope we’ll see you soon.
Eliza Edens: Of course. Thank you so much for having me.
J. Velazquez: Huh? So it’s it’s a good thing that my voice was in better shape for the interview. Right? Because it’s pretty rough right now. I don’t know if I could have gotten gotten through again, a fascinating person, a trooper. I can’t even begin to describe my appreciation for for the artistry and poetry that are contained in this new release will become the flowers. It’s just it’s you know, I had hoped for good things and it’s easily two, three times as better than I had hoped in this album. I really love it. I’m going to be listening to it for weeks and weeks and weeks. So anyway, that’s our show for the week. Actually, I’ve got another one coming up tomorrow with that promised interview with Dean Martelly, candidate for Congress, first Berkshire County. But this, I felt, was more important anyway. Stay safe. Be good to each other. Go easy on yourself by now.