Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Artist Interview: Annie Bacon's Pounding Corps

When I think of artists who exemplify The Bay Area's creative culture, I think of people like Annie Bacon. Highly original, filled with integrity and continually questing, the SF-dwelling singer/songwriter/composer/bandleader and mother has several EPs and a full-length CD with annie bacon and her oshen, as well as a highly acclaimed musical suite, The Folk Opera, to her name.  She's also sung and played on a slew of other artist's recordings and projects (Corinne West, Savannah Jo Lack), and just received an Arts Incubator award from Intersection for the Arts for her next creation. I recently caught up with her as she prepared for a benefit performance she's doing for The Liberation Institute Urban Retreat Center, Sunday, October 26, in San Francisco.

Q When did you first embrace songwriting? Who was a big early influence on your becoming an artist and who or what is fueling your muse currently?
AB: Before December of 2007, I'd definitely written songs, but I never considered myself a songwriter. I was content to play other people's music. That was the month, however, when I got Garageband, which changed everything. Suddenly I could sketch out concepts of songs across multiple tracks, and it was like a floodgate had been opened. Within a few weeks I knew that this was what I was supposed to be when I grew up. Pink Floyd and whatever was playing on the soft rock station in the late 80s ... those were my early influences. Music that was emotional. Right now I'm dealing with an Alt-J infatuation, a British art-band that does everything I love: harmonies, highly literate lyrics, dirty-grimy bass drops, ear-worming melodies, and arrangements that keep you on your toes. A few songs of theirs I love: "Fitzpleasure"and "Ripe &Ruin."

Q Tell us about the new EP and the 'community effort' it's entailed? 

AB: The new EP, which I haven't yet named, is a collection of ukulele songs that I've written across five or six years, but which never quite fit on any other release.  2012-13 were hard years for me and my family. Without going into it, I'll say that I was creatively paralyzed coming out of it and having trouble getting re-started. A kind friend set me in motion with a gentle nudge, another friend stepped forward to engineer it, and others threw down their massive talent as the OSHEN. And still other friends have offered ears, insights, and hours of talking them through. It's one of those projects that has happened for me, not because of me, which is a sweet and humbling relief. I feel really blessed by my community.

Q You just were just awarded an Arts Incubator by Intersection for the Arts. What does that mean for your work and will you build upon The Folk Opera or drum up something else altogether?

AB: Yes! This is really exciting for me. There's another project altogether that inspired me reaching out to them for support. It's a project that needs to happen within a certain framework, and to be honest I don't even know what exactly it is going to be yet, only that I'm supposed to set out to do it. I'm being necessarily vague, you'll forgive that I hope. But I do also see the potential for the IFTA sponsorship as a platform for finding the Folk Opera's next life, which is on stage. Maybe I'll find funding to get the incredible Alphabet Arts puppet production of the piece out here from Brooklyn.

Q You're doing a benefit performance for The Liberation Institute. Tell us about their work in the Bay Area (and any more details about the show) and how it's important to you.

AB: The Liberation Institute is an organization dear to my heart. I sit on their Board of Directors and am consistently amazed and impressed by how much they do with so little. Their community-mental-health model means that absolutely anyone can access their services. As an artist, I know how often I and other artists need support, but feel limited by finances, so this accessibility is a key part of what I love about them.
The show is to raise funds for their services for children, teens and families. As a mama myself now, I also have deep empathy for how necessary therapy can be in the process of both being and raising a child! Holy moly. The show will be kid-friendly, with those under 12 free to enter and the show happening from 3-5p. (After nap before dinner!) It's going to be an intimate show with only about 30 tickets available for purchase. Since it's a fundraiser we're asking $25-50/ticket, fully tax-deductible since Libi is a 501(c)3 non-profit. I'll play the Folk Opera, followed by a set of ukulele songs from the EP.  
Details: Music Is Love: An afternoon with Annie Bacon, Sunday October 26th, 3pm-5pm at the Liberation Institute's Urban Retreat Center, 1227-A Folsom Street at 8th, San Francisco. $25-50 tax-deductible donation suggested, kids 12 and under are free! Tickets available via

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