Margaret Glaspy has been playing music for some years but it is her debut album of last year, Emotions and Math that has put her on the map. CHRIS HAVERCROFT spoke to Glaspy on the cusp of her first Australian tour. Margaret Glaspy and her band play Chevron Festival Gardens on Thursday March 2 in a big double bill with Frankie Cosmos.
Success didn’t come easy. The singer-songwriter has been involved in music since she started playing trombone in the school band as a youngster. Glaspy then went on to write her own music and perform her own songs over the past decade, but it is the last twelve months that has seen her touring relentlessly after the release a critically acclaimed debut album.
“I am surprised by it every day and thrilled to be playing music as my profession,” states Glaspy in a matter of fact manner. “Saying that it makes sense as it is what I have been doing all of my life day in and day out, so it is nice to catch a break every now and again. It has always been in my realm to do things that are creative. I have always felt comfortable on stage, so I think I have always been heading in this direction. I wanted to be an actress at a very young age and then when it came down to it, I chose music. I still have some aspirations to be an actress, but for now I am doing this.”
Glaspy left her home state of California to study and the Berklee School Of Music in Boston. She may have only been enrolled in the school for one semester, but it gave Glaspy the kick in the pants she needed. The vocal performance major learned how to get out of her comfort zone musically and used it as an opportunity to meet other talented people.
“It was really expensive,” she says. “It may be about $45,000 a year and I didn’t have the money to keep going. I had a grant and some scholarship money from my school for the first semester, so after that I couldn’t afford to go anymore. I didn’t see that I could put myself that much into debt and then have a musician’s salary when I finished. I deeded to leave and took a job in Boston for a while and then moved to New York and started playing there.”
Within the first few months of moving to the bigger scene of New York City, Glaspy purchased her first electric guitar. At the time, she was playing a lot of clubs and little bars and found that the acoustic guitar sounded horrible in that environment. Since switching to electric guitar she has never looked back.
“I think the New York lifestyle is always to get to the bottom of things and don’t take too much time doing it,” she says. “Just deliver and get out of the way. That is what we did with the record, and made it in about three days. I spent a really long time to write the songs and get them where I liked them and it was just a matter of getting rid of all the excess and just delivering what I thought was the bottom line, which is a very New York mentality for sure.”
The songs on Emotion and Math took four years to write and the album was recorded three times over the duration. The process of making something and then spending a long time to edit it has informed the album title. The sentiments of the songs are natural and come out instinctively; for Glaspy the next part is working out how to display that emotive experience so as it plays well and people don’t have to work too hard to receive it.
“I think it is pretty human,” reflects Glaspy on the idea of emotion and math. “Everyone has some chemistry of the analytical versus the emotional. For me it feels like it is pretty split down the centre which can be confusing for me at times. Sometimes I wish I could be a little more of one than the other. It is a constant tug between the two.”