A Telephone Interview with Laura Nyro
City Magazine (Sweden)
October 20, 1993
by Dan Backman
 
 
  Parts of this conversation were used for an article about Laura for the 
  Swedish magazine City. I have tried to stay as close as possible to the actual 
  spoken words. Laura was very nice, and although I was nervous, the 
  conversation was delightful. We talked for longer than this, but these are the 
  parts I thought were the most interesting. ...Dan Backman

  Dan: Itīs a great privilege for me to speak to you.
  Laura: Oh, thank you.
  Dan: I must add that Iīm very nervous...I have been listening to your music 
  for such a long time...
  Laura: How long?
  Dan: Well, since Christmas & The Beads Of Sweat.
  Laura: Thatīs pretty long (laughs).
  Dan: I must tell you that all your records has meant so much to me...no music 
  has ever touched me like your songs..
  Laura: Oh, my goodness.
  Dan: Okay. Are you in New York right now?
  Laura: Well, I spend time in Connecticut. Have you ever heard of Connecticut? 
  Itīs near New York. It has..like...lots of trees, you know. So I spend time in 
  Connecticut with the trees. But I have family and friends and work in New 
  York. I spend time in the city and then with nature, you know, with the trees.
  Dan: Have you ever been to Sweden?
  Laura: No, I mean itīs kind of exciting to be on the phone...I mean I didnīt 
  know if anybody knew my music in Sweden...but anyway I never been there 
  though.
  Dan: You must come and visit me.
  Laura: Allright, maybe Iīll be able to go there in the next year and maybe 
  sing a little bit.
  Dan: Yeah, that would be great. Meanwhile itīs nice to have you back with this 
  new album (Walk The Dog & Light The Light). I understand that youīve been fed 
  up with the music business for periods in your career, is it fun making music 
  again?
  Laura: Well, you know itīs funny because...eh...there has been many years when 
  I went out and sang...you know...going to all the different clubs around the 
  country. Sometimes it would be, letīs say, just me and the keyboard, very 
  simple. But Iīve always kept the music alive in my life. I would work 
  like...you know...thousands of musicians; they go out and they work their 
  music. But often, when I was out working, it just wasnīt a big media thing. So 
  sometimes Iīve noticed that people donīt know how much Iīve been singing over 
  the years. For about three years I was playing clubs and theatres, I had a 
  band, and some people donīt know Iīve made a recording a few years ago, called 
  Laura Live At The Bottom Line, so I really have kept the music more alive than 
  sometimes people think. But as far as having fun...yes, Iīm having fun 
  definitly with the music...and itīs very hard work. Iīm not crazy about the 
  music business...certain aspects of it...sometimes I feel like I belong in 
  another profession.
  Dan: Do you feel it difficult working in a cynical, commercial world like the 
  pop world?
  Laura: It doesnīt do that much for me, you know, I donīt relate to it in a big 
  way. I would rather just read poetry or take a walk with my dog.
  Dan: You mean you still find it important to make music, although the business 
  side is...
  Laura: ...well, itīs like the way you put it. I think that Iīm into 
  being...letīs see...I try to find common ground with all the different people 
  that Iīm working with, theyīre also trying to find common ground with me, to a 
  certain degree, so...when you got that going then it feels right, then itīs 
  workable. But if, as an artist, I feel true to one thing and if Iīm being 
  asked to give that up to do something else, that doesnīt work. But the thing 
  is that it really doesnīt matter because I donīt pay to much attention to that 
  anyway. I just think that the music business today is a little bit...eh...itīs 
  more controlled than it used to be. It used to be more variety, more of a 
  surprise...more freedom in music, and I personally like that kind of music 
  better. But you can always find something to love in the music thatīs 
  happening. This week I got this cassette of Van Morrisons new recording (Out 
  Of Exile) and I just loved it.
  Dan: Yeah I can understand that. Sometimes I can feel a connection between you 
  and Van Morrison. Both of you are making some sort of white soul...that also 
  has a timeless qualty to it.
  Laura: You know, with him itīs like...you listen to the music and iīts 
  very...especially with his new recording...itīs like this very sensual music, 
  itīs like you just feel it, I mean in your gut, but itīs like...eh...itīs very 
  spiritually satisfying. You know that he knows. I just loved that recording.
  Dan: Yeah, heīs great, but personally I canīt be moved in the same way that 
  your music moves me...itīs different...youīre a woman and thatīs another 
  thing.
  Laura: Thatīs another thing (laughs). Thatīs another thing in this business 
  (more laughs).
  Dan: You told me about a dog. Is it your dog pictured on the cover of the new 
  album?
  Laura: Yeah, thatīs the little dog.
  Dan: Do you have more dogs?
  Laura: No, thatīs his baby picture. Heīs big now. You know heīs been with me 
  for fourteen years. Heīs a big Shepherd. A Belgian Shepherd, not a German.
  Dan: In an old article from The New York Times I read something about a dog 
  named Beautybelle, is this the same dog?
  Laura: No, itīs not and you know...thereīs certain amount of information that 
  I have noticed that isnīt accurate...like in the past that is circulating. If 
  you wanīt to be accurate Dan, you gotta check with me first (laughs).
  Dan: Itīs very hard finding material about you.
  Laura: I know...and also for a long time I didnīt do interviews...but now itīs 
  fine.
  Dan: Itīs not just for the record company?
  Laura: I feel that for me itīs part of a communication that I feel fine 
  with...you know...discussing music. So Dan, what kind of music do you like?
  Dan: Well, your music of course...soul music...singer/songwriters like Joni 
  Mitchell and Rickie Lee Jones. Do you feel you have influenced them in any 
  way?
  Laura: Rickie Lee Jones has said that me and Van Morrison...that she had grown 
  up on our music. I think she is a really swinging musician. Definitely.
  Dan: The choice of Gary Katz as a producer seemed rather odd...
  Laura: ...in what way?
  Dan: Well, you know, I love his production work with Steely Dan but I think 
  that...he is rather "hard" and you are more of a "soft" person.
  Laura: Well, you know Gary loves soul music and Gary has been around for a 
  very long time. He grew up through many different times in music, you know 
  what I mean, he knows all that old school of music, he does know that. And 
  heīs got this really nice studio and he can make a good, clean professional 
  record. He can go in with an approach thatīs simple and heīs open minded to a 
  certain degree and not a producer that is going to impose on me, or try to 
  impose on me a definite style, because that would not work. So I feel that 
  those were some of the strong points with Gary. But of course, he and I 
  are...two independent thinkers and..(laughs).
  Dan: Why do you laugh?
  Laura: īCause Iīm thinking back...it was quite amazing that we...you 
  know...that we just came out of it alive (laughs). But Iīm very, very happy 
  with what we created together.
  Dan: I think your records between Smile and this one has been...if I may say 
  so...rather dissapointing...the production and the musicians hasnīt really 
  matched the songs. But this new record is something else. Much better.
  Laura: Oh, thank you, and you know I think thatīs true.
  Dan: There are good songs on those albums, of course, but the production has 
  been too "soft", if you know what I mean.
  Laura: I think itīs true that this production has bite.
  Dan: Yeah, you donīt only have this soft, tender side, you also have these 
  funky grooves...
  Laura: Definitely. Gary and I produced it together. He is a professional 
  record maker...and we...I think that each one of us brought our strenght to it 
  and...eh..it was so easy to sing, it was like...just delightful and it happend 
  right away. Mixing...oh my God...mixing took a hundred times longer (laughs) 
  beacuse we had to match three peoples...vision of what this record was gonna 
  sound like mixvise, and you know things can change quite a bit in the mix. So 
  you know it was very hard work...but we got through it. You wanna be sweet and 
  good to the people that you work with but sometimes you just have too 
  fight...you know. I had to forget about being sweet at certain times (laughs).
  Dan: Do we have to wait six or ten years for the next record?
  Laura: Definitely not. In fact one of the things that Iīm working on 
  is...eh...Iīm putting this harmony group together, did I mention that to you?
  Dan: No.
  Laura: Oh, my goodness, wow, it is some kind of...harmony group. Itīs hard for 
  me to describe, but itīs really...I find it just really special. The singers 
  in it are great, thereīs not even a band, itīs me and the keyboard and the 
  harmony group and...eh...for me this is like...eh...whatīs happening with the 
  music, so weīre gonna go out and weīre gonna sing...on weekends...some of us 
  are mothers and have children and weīre trying to take care of them...so 
  thereīs a whole balancing thing happening and weīre gonna be...eh...Christmas 
  Eve at The Bottom Line and I just might record that.
  Dan: Sounds great! Do you think that Columbia will reissue your older records 
  as a boxed set?
  Laura: I was told that if Walk The Dog & Light The Light does nicely 
  then...well yes.
  Dan: Would you like that?
  Laura: It doesnīt thrill me that half of my records are out of print...
  Dan: Theyīre still as good as they were in the sixties.
  Laura: I donīt listen to them...but you know what I did hear...letīs 
  see...Gonna Take A Miracle...I did hear that because I was at someoneīs house 
  and it was on and I enjoyed it.
  Dan: What about the Laura Nyro-myths, were you eccentric?
  Laura: No. I think that...there was a certain period of time...okey let me put 
  it this way...I think that the present times can get 
  sensational...and...listen, even today sometimes someone can call me 
  eccentric, but, you wanna know something...what does it really mean? Sometimes 
  you can mean it in a gentle way and sometimes itīs a put down; it means this 
  person is not to be taken seriously. You know a lot of my songs are very 
  serious, Iīm like dead serious about certain things and I feel that Iīm 
  writing about the world, through my own eyes, through a womans eyes and 
  sometimes I have this sexism coming at me and even today sometimes Iīm called 
  like...I could be called eccentric, that the things that I write about are 
  eccentric, but I tell you...itīs some sort of a way of not taking a woman 
  artist seriously, I know that game already...you know...at this point itīs 
  like people will say what they will say but I think thatīs if itīs not clear 
  it will get clearer that Iīm not fooling around as far as music goes.
  Dan: Thatīs the problem for artists who take their music, as you say, dead 
  serious. Many have a hard time following something that isnīt just sex, drugs 
  and rock'n'roll.
  Laura: Mockery is fashionable today but...you know...I think that a lot of the 
  things I write about are...eh...what a lot of people feel.
  Dan: Yeah, sometimes I think itīs strange that a man living in Sweden, like 
  myself, can relate so well to the things you write about.
  Laura: Thatīs really amazing...thatīs the good part, like there arenīt like 
  walls and separations.
  Dan: Thatīs the fantastic thing about art.
  Laura: Yeah, I feel the same way. Thatīs how I feel about art, and the 
  different arts; I mean, I love poetry and I love painting and...
  Dan: Have you ever made a video?
  Laura: I havenīt been asked to do a video yet. If I could do like a...you 
  know...a very independent video...I might consider it.
  Dan: Itīs like you still do the same kind of music you grew up with; Motown, 
  Spector, Curtis Mayfield and so on.
  Laura: Yeah. Always. I just remember being a very young teenager, like 
  thirteen, and just like listening on my little record player, listening and 
  listening to Curtis Mayfields songs with the Impressions, you know, for hours 
  and days and weeks and months and years. I used to find a lot of comfort in 
  his music.
  Dan: Just like I find comfort listening to your music.
  Laura: Maybe it is the same thing.
  Dan: Do you listen a lot to new music...or...I get the impression that youīre 
  not bying records yourself...
  Laura: No. If Iīm very drawn to something and if I canīt resist it I get it. 
  Itīs funny because right now all Iīm doing is listening to harmonies, to the 
  new harmony group, and when Iīm on my way to the harmony group I listen to 
  Vans new recording and sometimes I even listen to a meditation tape just 
  to...you know...let go with the world and find some quietness.
  Dan: Howīs the weather in Connecticut right now?
  Laura: Well, you know itīs autumn and autumn in Connecticut is just beautiful. 
  Do you have autumn in Sweden?
  Dan: Yeah. Sure. But right now itīs more like winter, but without snow. Itīs 
  terrible. But this is not what we were supposed to talk about; the weather in 
  Sweden, so let me ask you: whatīs your plan for the rest of the day?
  Laura: Let me see...my son will be home from school later and...
  Dan: How old is he?
  Laura: Heīs fifteen. Just basicly I will be organizing things for the harmony 
  group and from that to washing the dishes and...just all kinds of things. And 
  later I will be going to New York.

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