I spoke with Melissa Ferrick just as she was getting ready to head to the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, TX. Melissa Ferrick talked with me about her music, her recent album, the movie she is making, coping with a panic disorder what it's like to be an out lesbian playing music in a George Bush America.
What's it like at the SXSW Music Festival?
It's incredible. I haven't had an official showcase since my first album. I walk around and see a lot of music for about five days. It's almost like a vacation, a working vacation.
The other big part of this festival is that SXSW has now incorporated a film part, which they never used to have before. My film is going to be submitted this year for a bunch of festivals. I'm going to be scoping that out and trying to meet film people, to learn about how to promote an independent film
I was reading about the film you're putting together, it's based on your last 10 years of touring.
Originally it started as a labor of love for fans and for myself. I've been carrying around all these hi-8s (video tapes) with me for 10 years and I couldn't believe I still had them after all the moving from one coast to another. It's as full length, hour and 20 min movie about me. If you didn't know anything about me you could pretty much go in there and watch the progression of an artist from being on a major label and getting dropped and being on an independent label and having to go off on her own and open off her own label. It's really a story. I'm really excited about it.
Who is making the film?
I am. The film is called Decade. I've been working on it for a year and a half, editing every moment I have. (We're) submitting to all the queer festivals, all the women's festivals, all the documentary festivals.
In the mean time I'm going to sell copies of the DVD to fans at live shows.
You've got some avid fans. I was at a party the other night and I mentioned to someone that I was interviewing you and she started gushing, like I've never seen someone gush before. What's it like to have that kind of fan base?
Life saving. In the last year and a half it's definitely grown considerably and I don't really know why. Before this album (The Other Side) the amount of people that recognized my name or recognized me has increased. That's different for me because I've always been very accessible, very under the radar.
I went out on Sunday night to Chances (in Houston) to watch The L Word because our hotel doesn't have Showtime. I'm a little addicted to the show. I didn't think I was going to get recognized, but I did get recognized. It was kind of weird because I'm not used to that happening. I think what's important for me is my whole existence as a musician has really been based on the ability to tour and the ability to pay my bills and exist from the money that I make touring. And the only way that that happens is if people come. My ability to not have a second job for the last 6 years has been because of the fans. I feel like I'm not responsible for some of it. I have an enormous amount of respect for people who take that night off or who drive hours to see me play or will pay whatever it costs whether it be ten dollars or twenty dollars. It's really nice. I hope I always remember that and I'm always grateful for that.
How has it been for you since the elections. How has the political climate affected you and your touring?
I just can't really get over how many W stickers I see everywhere. I don't think it's changed, the climate. In some ways it's actually made the climate of the shows more intense. There's a sense of camaraderie amongst what I like to call the hippies, gypsies and queers. We need to come together and we're a stronger force together rather than separate. I can see that starting to happen. I see more and more men at my shows, feminists, hippies, fans of Ani (DiFranco).
I guess other than that the shows are going great. I don't see my numbers being down by any means. My numbers are up.