Emily Saliers talks Indigo Girls and the band’s new album, “One Lost Day”

AE: I know you’ve been playing symphony shows this year–is that where you got the idea to include strings in the record? And how did those shows came about?

ES: Well, we started using strings as early as second or third record maybe, and I grew up listening to classical music with my parents and have always loved strings. I think just to play the symphony, we got invited by the agency that puts musical groups with symphonies–because there are other artists that do it as well like Ben Folds, Brandi Carlile and other pop-rock artists, so we just got invited and thought it’d be really fun. We hired very good arrangers who wrote the scores to arrange the songs, and since it’s been going so well, we keep getting invited to be a part of different symphony seasonal presentations of these pop performances.

AE: Any plans to record that and put it out for people who are not able to make it to those cities?

ES: Yeah we really want to, but the biggest stumbling block has been union fees, its prohibitively expensive. So think about all the players and all that stuff, so we’re just trying to figure out a way to make it happen. I’m sure we will.


AE: Well, I will definitely contribute to the Kickstarter. And I know I am not alone.

ES: Thank you!


AE: Do you have a song, that you love to perform? And on the flip side of that, do you have a fan favorite that you’re all like, “Do I really have to perform this again?!”

ES: You know, you think the answer to that would be “Closer to Fine,” but we never get tired of playing it because everybody sings on it, a lot of times the opening act will sing the last verse or the crowd will sing the second of the last verse, so it feels rousing and different every time so I think it’s the song we play the most, but we make it different every time. We don’t play songs we don’t want to play honestly, we make a new set list every night. There are songs that mean a lot during a certain a period of time, then you move on to another that becomes your favorite, and it sort of switches in and out. Then you can write a song and forget about it. There are songs I’ve written ten years ago, that suddenly ten years later take on a new meaning and I get interested in playing them because of the new things it means to me.  So it’s a bit of a mystery. We make sure that we’re never bored or tired or going through the motions ever, we try to keep it fresh.

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AE: Even though you have fans from all walks of life, your audiences are full of people who just appreciate great harmonies and great music, but the Indigo Girls are still such a vivid cultural reference to, well, lesbianism.

ES: [Laughs] Okay, I can accept that!


AE: It’s like, “Oh you’re a lesbian? You like the Indigo Girls? Shocking.”

ES: [Laughs]


AE: Maybe people don’t tell you that, but I’m telling you now. I can see how when you are first getting started, you want everyone to appreciate your music no matter what, but now that the Indigo Girls has become this lesbian cultural reference. How does that make you feel?

ES: That’s a really good question.  I think at the very beginning no one was more fervent as supporters–besides our parents and families–than our lesbian community. So at the very beginning we owe launching to the loyalty of that following. And then we came out, we had always been out, but we started talking about it in the national press early on. I think I had fears of becoming pigeonholed, and as it turns out, we did become pigeon holed. But at this stage in my life, I see now how people have a need to generalize and categorize and do all those things that might keep them from feeling the full extent of our music; but to be honest with you the most important thing is that we were a part of the movement for rights for queer people, to be synonymous with lesbianism is awesome if it means that we were a part of that movement. That we made it less lonely for someone who didn’t have anyone else to relate to, who couldn’t hang out with any other gay people. So I don’t like being categorized and put into a box. But in this instance, because it’s part of that movement, and because I am a lesbian, it’s fantastic. Does that answer the question?