INTERVIEW with Gretchen Phillips: The Whole Buffallo
This spring I met Gretchen Phillips from Austin TX, who is currently on sabbatical in Paris with her partner Ann. Gretchen is a powerhouse creative force, smart and funny, who doesn’t rest on her laurels, even though she could. Her band Two Nice Girls was signed to Rough Trade Records early on in her career and from there Gretchen hasn’t been sitting still, working in Austin, New York, San Francisco and Paris. If you are in Paris right now, lucky you. Don’t miss her next shows.

SAT 21 APRIL • 18h30
17, rue Henry Monnier 75009 Paris

FRI 1 JUNE • 19h doors open
with Aimee Norwich
5/7 Rue Moret  75011 Paris

Check out the video “Your Drinking” Video by Lukas Blakk. Your Drinking is a song from the album “I Was Just Comforting Her.”

Over her 24+ year musical career Gretchen Phillips has been cited as an influence for bands as diverse as Le Tigre, Pansy Division and The Butchies. After one gig at SXSW her band Two Night Girls was signed to Rough Trade records, releasing three full-length albums and receiving the prestigious GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) media award. She resides in Austin, TX and continues to play music even as her fingers bleed.” – from Gretchen’s website

3 questions for Gretchen:

1. Paris is beautiful, rich, and full of history. Any surprises, delights or shocks to your system during this visit? 

My sister, her husband and their five children ranging in age from 2 to 17 came to visit us in Paris for 10 days.  They wanted to do all of things that I consider quite touristy.  My surprise was that I found these activities to be absolutely wonderful and interesting.  I mean, except for going to the top of Notre Dame I had done them all already, albeit not at this incredible hyper speed rate.  But, for example, I am surprised to report that the view from atop the cathedral of Notre Dame is indeed wonderful.  There are all of these Victor Hugo quotes from Hunchback of Notre Dame (definitely one of my favorite books in the world) posted up there that are quite moving.  It’s awe inspiring.  It was totally worth waiting in line for.  Same thing with Musee d’Orsay and Versailles and the Louvre.  I’m very grateful to have gotten to experience these places this sabbatical, because I might have skipped a couple of them.  And I would have missed out.

2. Are you finding inspiration and shifts in your work as a result of being in France, or is it too soon to tell? (What have you been working on lately?)

I am very inspired visually here in Paris.  I love the reverence for paper and pens. I love all of the camera shops.  I love the inexpensive art book stores.  I love being a member of the Pompidou and just popping in there for inspiration.  I am also drinking a lot more caffeine than I do at home, and I think that tends to spark my mind.  Until it burns out.  Anyway, I have been concentrating on improving my drawing skills here.  I’ve been working on a series of collages.  And  I have another visual project that is centered on my song lyrics.  And then another project that is a series of photographs based on these adorable vintage postcard sets that I’ve been buying at the flea markets.  I have always found Paris very inspiring in terms of text and books and visual presentation.  Even the ubiquitous vendors along the Seine who sell vintage postcards and pages from books….I could look at that stuff for days.

I have spent a fair amount of money on French and Swedish knives, coffee paraphernalia, shoes, paper of all kinds, fountain pens, ingenious office supplies, the best tea I’ve ever tasted, cheese and delicious produce.  In a way, I don’t think I’ll really comprehend the shifts that will take place in my work until I leave here.  I have a whole lot of travel coming up (Germany, England, Austria, Turkey and more) and there’s just no telling what effect that’s going to have on me.  In my work I use all parts of the buffalo.

3. What’s next on the horizon after you return in Austin?

I have been avidly studying woodworking, welding and furniture making the last few years.  I have been asked to participate in a show in Austin in November featuring my furniture and lamps and paintings, so I need to go home in July and get cracking on creating that body of work.  I was concerned that I was going to miss my workbench and my woodworking tools and my big boards of wood these months I’m spending in Europe.  I was afraid I would be pretty sad about not getting to work in that way.  So that’s why I’m very grateful that I’ve been concentrating on my drawing skills and on these photo projects and have been kept quite busy with these tasks.  As long as I’m working.  As long as I’m engaged.  As long as I have projects I’m ok.  As long as I have more projects than I can actually do I’m fine.  It’s when I get bored….watch out.  That’s not good.  Fortunately, if I’m bored in Europe that’s my own damn problem.  I have no one to blame but myself.

Gretchen’s website
Gretchen’s wikipedia


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