From the midst of thanksgiving madness in her hometown, Portland Oregon, Alela Diane talked to us about being on the road, her first memories of song and her favourite jeans. On writing to me she said “I did this quick style, so I hope it’s ok, it’s just that I have a pie in the oven that might just be burning!”
When did you first pick up a guitar?
I think I must have picked up many guitars by the age of 5 or so, as my father is quite a collector – But I didn’t make it sound very nice at all until I was 19. That’s when I taught myself to pluck a string or two in the proper sense.
Your dad Tom plays with you, as does your husband… also named Tom. Can you tell us a little about growing up in a musical family?
Our house was the gathering place for many musicians, all friends of my parents. I have many memories of falling asleep to the sound of many voices singing together. Most days, it was just mom & dad, singing old folk songs. Music has always had such a presence in my life from very early on, and I very much attribute my playing it to this.
You have been roaming a while now with your band wild divine in tow. What’s the most unusual place you have played at?
Actually, this year, with Wild Divine, the most special place was at St. Pancras Old Church in your very own London Town! In the past, I’ve played many a crazy venue, but for this run of shows, that charming little church took the cake.
Traveling can make people very introspective. Do you keep a notebook handy when on the road? Any new songs pop out on your recent tour with Fleet Foxes?
It’s actually the most introspective of times for me! There is nothing like being surrounded by 6 men in a van that will make you put the blinders on and go into your own head! I write quite a lot on the road; mostly in the back seat of the tour van while passing through many lands. I type on my laptop, which I might add, is very modern of me… Many words were written on this last tour, and upon my arrival home, I have already crafted about 5 songs out of those words, which is pretty much the most prolific I’ve ever been with song writing.
If you were to collaborate with any musician, past or present, who would that be?
Of the past, I’d love to sing with dear George Harrison. Of the now, I’d love to do a record with Robin of Foxes fame, and we just might!
What inspires wonder in you?
O, plenty of things! To name a few: Dreams, Ghosts, Deja Vu’s, Chance meetings, Gold.
What is the one favourite item from your wardrobe that always makes the cut when your packing your suitcase?
My “High Kai” Nudie jeans. I keep trying to wear something else, but I cannot do it!
Best stage outfit?
I have a gold filigree cape that is pretty much top notch. I was wearing it for a run of terrible shitty bars gigs across America, and it made me feel worth while even when there was no one at the show.
From my mother’s wardrobe I inherited a bright banging yellow shift dress with white polka dots that she made herself as a teen in the 60’s. Have you any precious keepsakes handed down from the women in your life?
I have a collection of 1920′s clothing that was handmade by my great grandmother and her sister. Everything is beautifully crafted & made of fine silks and velvets in the lushest colors. I’ve got to do a photo shoot in these outfits before they fall apart, as they are so old & delicate. I cherish them so very much!
Your favourite road song?
There is a beautiful version of a song called “Early Morning Rain” by Ian & Sylvia. It’s about being stuck at an airport, and it’s a truly beautiful & homesick tune that I love!
Best gig ever?
The best show I was ever at, or rather that I enjoyed the most, was with you, Kat! It was Neil Young at the Primavera Festival! I’ve never had so much fun in my life!
Where do you travel to in your day dreams?
I travel into an imaginary future, into the past, and sometimes into the wrong places!