During this year's joyous holiday season, I got to sit down and chat with an upcoming piano poet who just started making a name for herself with a bittersweet 2008 debut EP titled (UN)DRASTIC. Her name is Jody Schneider, and I recently got to find out what inspired her humble musical upbringing, who she chose as her new guitar player, and her personal thoughts on the independent music scene.
JS: I grew up in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada. I went to high school in a little town called Boyle in Northern Alberta Ė thatís kind of the area I call Ďhomeí. Iíve lived in Idaho about eight years all together (Iíve moved here and back three times).
PUNK GLOBE: As an independent artist, how long have you been writing songs and playing piano?
JS: Iíve been playing the piano since I could reach it Ė my mother was a piano teacher and taught me and my sisters to play. I wrote my first song when I was sixteen, and it has inexplicably become one of my most popular songs (Hope Again). It was on a very terrible first record of ten songs that a select few people have (and that will never be released), and is downloadable as a single on MySpace.
PUNK GLOBE: Were there any particular bands or musicians who inspired your style?
JS: Sarah Maclachlan and Chantal Kreviazuk were huge influences for a long time, but in the last five or so years my style has undergone a fairly significant metamorphosis thanks to a wider variety of influences Ė Regina Spektor, Butterfly Boucher, Katie Herzig, Ingrid Michaelson, and Tori Amos are big ones, along with old soul and an endless parade of obscure artists that sate my voracious musical appetite.
PUNK GLOBE: Are any of the tracks on (UN)DRASTIC based on moments that happened in your personal life?
JS: Most of them are based on reality Ė especially on this EP thereís a recurring theme of leaving, which has a lot to do with leaving Canada and some of the relationships I left behind when I came to America. Really, the only track that isnít based on my own experiences is ĎCome Homeí, which was inspired by the movie ĎCold Mountainí. I loved the music that was used in the movie, and the story was heartbreaking, so I was moved to write something. Itís a song with many incarnations Ė its true form is a little more Appalachian-inspired than what came out in the studio, but the studio version is sort of a product of limited time and funds Ė still a cool sound, but different than intended.
PUNK GLOBE: Will there be a debut LP somewhere in the horizon?
JS: Iím not sure Ė most likely. Iím in the process of changing my approach to music, and that might affect whether or not an actual LP happens. Due to the fact that Boise is not really a place where you can make money as a singer/songwriter (the music scene is young and badly-attended - even the major stages here usually only pay in Ďexposureí), and also due to the fact that difficult circumstances have made touring impossible, Iím working on putting together a basic studio in my house so that I can record the dozens of unrecorded songs I have and start releasing them. Iíve sold significantly more outside of Idaho than I have inside Ė actually, more outside of America than inside as well Ė and these fans have had just the five songs on (Un)drastic to listen to. I have an hour and a half plus of original music that Iíve been performing locally, and Iíd love for my more far-flung audiences to be able to hear it, too. Iím still trying to get funding to make the project work (check it out at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/drasticjo/chromatrope-records-diy-indie-music-by-jody-schn), but hopefully, thatís what Iíll be doing for the next year.
PUNK GLOBE: I heard that last spring you recruited a new guitar player named Tim Reeves. Could you tell us some stuff about him?
JS: Tim is awesome. He stuck with us for our about eight-month run as Darling Disaster (I havenít updated the band status on MySpace, and wonít until I know exactly where Iím going), and we still get to play together now and then. Heís fresh out of high school, as was our bassist, Zack Evans, and it was a very cool collaboration. What Tim lacks in experience he makes up for in artistic genius, and it was a very broadening and productive experience to have someone with fresh (and good!) ideas come in and give my music a different spin. We played several shows with the new sound Ė a little harder, a little edgier, with a touch of dirty blues and a sprinkling of Killers-esque epicness, which went over huge especially on the bigger stages like the Knitting Factory. It was tons of fun, and I hope to get these guys in the studio with me to lay down some of the stuff we came up with.
JS: Not at all! A lack of available larger venues doesnít have to limit my exposure. Itís kind of the indie way anymore. Thanks to websites like CDBaby and YouTube, itís easy and affordable to go global with the digital release, and considering the fact that the bulk of my audience was still in Canada at that point, the decision was a no-brainer. The digital age has meant that the number of bands selling their music has exploded, but it also means that there are that many more bands competing for audience. Itís virtually impossible to sell enough just by having hard copies available at gigs and by mail order anymore, because the next band will have MP3s that the audience can download on their phones while theyíre watching the band perform. Itís turned out to be where I sell best, so Iím happy with that.
PUNK GLOBE: Last but not least, what does Jody Schneider hope to bring in the year 2010?
JS: Iím shooting for recording another dozen or so songs one way or the other. I may do some sporadic gigs Ė they tend to find me whether Iím looking or not Ė but Iím concentrating on recording for now. Iím also working with a filmmaker friend on some soundtrack music, which should be a fun new outlet for me. Hopefully 2010 will be one of my most productive years yet!
PUNK GLOBE: Thank you so much for your time!