'Swan Diving Back Into Music!'
It has been 4 years since the release of Girl Who Cried Wolf, Sierra Swan's last fully independent release. After taking time to get married and start a family, Sierra once again decided to start writing during the summer of 2012.
And for the first time in many years she knew she did not want to produce her own record. "I produced Girl Who Cried Wolf and learned a lot, but I missed the input of another person, especially someone I trust." That person turned out to be long time friend Billy Corgan, who agreed to step into the role of Producer for the first time in 10 years after hearing Swan's new songs.
Sierra Swan was born in the San Fernando Valley with music in her blood. Her father Billy Swan had his first hit when he was sixteen with, 'Lover Please.' During Sierra's many nights as a young girl she waited backstage while her father played rhythm guitar for Kris Kristofferson.
In 1997 Sierra joined the alternative rock band Dollshead and was signed to MCA Records. Two years later Sierra decided to leave the band and become a solo artist signing with Atlantic Records. It was during the making of this record that she met Linda Perry. While they began to collaborate on material for her album she was let go from her contract with Atlantic. Linda decided to sign her to her label via Interscope, and Ladyland was released shortly there after.
Typical of the music industry and its own changing landscape, she was let go from her contract with Interscope. Not to be deterred, Sierra decided to make it on her own producing and performing the beautiful and haunting EP entitled Coward, followed by Queen of the Valley, Sierra's 80's pop homage to her Valley Girl roots and Girl Who Cried Wolf, her third album, following a cover EP with her critically acclaimed father Billy Swan at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis.
But now she needs YOUR help!
"As you know, recording a record takes a lot of time, a lot of love, and well, money. This is the first time I’ve recorded an album so intimately with my fans and I am looking forward to this unique experience with you."
"I have come up with a few standard ways to raise money and a few unique ones as well. On my pledge page you will see all the exclusives that are available to you. Look them over and choose the one you want."
Chatting recently with the lovely lady herself Sierra Swan, I first wondered, first and foremost, what were her memories as a young girl of watching her father, Billy Swan play rhythm guitar for Kris Kristofferson? "My memories of that time are really wonderful and special to my heart. If my Dad was on tour during the summer, which happened quite often, my mother would allow my sister and I to tag along for a few shows. That included staying on the tour bus and really soaking up the lifestyle. At that time all the guys in the band were sober, so kids were welcome."
"My fondest memories is a mixture of tiny moments, eating whatever I wanted while my Dad and Kris were sound checking. Sleeping in my Dad's bunk, running around backstage with my sister and Kris' daughter Casey, but the best was when all the guys, my Dad, Kris, Stephen Bruton, Donnie Fritts, Sammy Creason, Tommy McClure and Glen Clark finished playing and walked back onto the bus. They seemed so happy and I loved watching them talk about the show. They would laugh like school boys talking about a moment in the show or an audience member. It was so amazing! I would wait for that moment every night."
In 1997 you became part of the alternative rock band Dollshead, but left two years later to become a solo artist. BUT, before that solo course was plotted, is it true that for three months you were a member of The Black Eyed Peas?! "Thank you for asking this question because I would love to clear this up. NO, I was never a member of the Black Eyed Peas. I sang on one song, which was Fallin Up but I was never a member. We were all friends back in the day. We recorded at the same studio and went through that whole struggle and hustle of wanting to make music for the rest of our lives. Needless to say they more than “made it”. I am so happy for all of those guys, they are fantastic people and so deserving of all of their success."
Having stayed solo ever since, what has changed the most about the business since those days - for better and for worse? "Social Media has changed the game completely. Both of my record deals with Atlantic and Interscope were before facebook, twitter, myspace etc...I felt so powerless when it came to the business side of things. If 100 percent of the company was not behind your album, well your music would never see the light of day. That's how it felt. For an artist like myself now, social media is fucking fantastic. I can truly be an artist. There is no compromising. I have never had that luxury before, there was always something with the majors that I needed to change or be more like. I had a hard time with that so I probably turned people off inside and outside the company."
And now, here in 2013, I've just visited your Pledge Music page at www.vimeo.com/62826605. A black and white three minute video. Please tell those that go to watch it what they are actually going to see? "What you will see are snippets of the process of how an album is created. I can't give you specific details because I am literally updating as things are unfolding."
I also went to www.pledgemusic.com/projects/sierraswan and saw the en masse of different monetary donation levels and what the fans get in return. A lot of artists/bands are taking this course of action now. Is that due to the economy or something more sinister behind-the-scenes of the record business, perhaps? "The economy for sure, but the bottom line is, if you are going to do this on your own because you either want to or no one is going to do it for you, you need to raise the money. Making a record is not cheap, nor is touring. Especially for a solo artist, you are on your own. As amazing as that is, IT IS A LOT OF WORK."
Some of the monetary donation levels and what they get in return are not your standard prizes, that's for sure! Please explain more about just a few of these more interesting ones:
$40 - Swan Rings
$55 - You Will Write Them A Letter
$100 - Love Advice via Skype
$400 - Their Portrait Painted by You
$700 - The Doodle Book
"Well, like I said making a record is not cheap. It's no secret that I am trying to raise money for this project. The items that are considerably more, are also one of a kind items. If you are a fan of what I do, they will be of value to you. The Swan Rings, I make myself and will be unique for each person that orders them. The letter I will write you will be special and revealing. The love advice is going to be super fun and won't be brief at all."
"The portrait will be a one of a kind painting of you, by me. This will take some time to perfect and complete as well. The Doodle book is going to be amazing and really hard to let go of if purchased. Everyone involved in this album will draw or write in it, I am also writing all the lyrics for the album in their as well, including a few surprises. It's basically a journal."
Although you are already at 45% of the money you need to make this 4th album, what happens if you don't reach your goal? Does everyone get their money back, or is there a mystery investor who will cover what remains, ensuring the album gets made? "If the goal is not reached, yes everybody will get their money back. If it is ridiculously close to the goal but not quite there. I will find some way to pay for the rest, no mystery investor."
You've said that this upcoming 4th album has been the album you've been preparing for your whole life since you starting writing music. But what feelings within you have generated such a bold claim? "Is that bold? I guess it's not that bold for me because I know it. It's something I feel, so it must be true."
A very special friend of yours, Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins has agreed to produce it. How long have you known Billy and where did you first meet? "I have known Billy for 7 years. We met at Linda Perry's studio while Courtney Love was working on Nobody's Daughter. I was over there visiting and I remember Courtney saying, “Linda can Billy come over?” I did not know who she was talking about at all. He came in and hung out for a few hours and asked me about my music. I gave him a cd, thinking he would never listen to it. I ran into him again at a party Linda threw at her studio. He actually listened to the cd and gave me his honest opinion, which I'm sure, at the time I did not like!"
"But one thing about Billy that I find such comfort in, is that there is no bullshit with him. At first you could be put off by it, but really he is giving you fantastic advice. As people we are so used to others sugar coating everything, so it's confusing. I have grown to absolutely love him for it."
So, are we going to hear some Smashing Pumpkins vibes throughout your 4th album now, perhaps? "I don't know, wouldn't be the worst thing but Billy is very loyal to the vibe he gets from the song itself. So I think it will really just depend on the song."
Billy has said that you are the first person he has produced in over ten years. So why you, why now? "You would have to ask him. I can tell you that both Billy and I have discussed doing a project together for the last 5 years, so when I played him all the new material, he just looked at me and said, “you are onto something, I would like to produce this,” followed by me in complete shock."
It's been four years since the release of your last fully independent album. Why the long period of time inbetween and what did you get up to? "12. I toured and played for other artist like Ringo Starr and Dave Stewart for awhile. I also got married and had my son, so that took some time. I produced a cover EP called The Sun Sessions in Memphis at the legendary Sun Studios with my Dad, which was an unbelievable experience. I finished a video for 'What Is This Thing Called Love' by Cole Porter off the EP a couple months ago with Jennifer Chambers Lynch. Turned out amazing. It is on the homepage of my website at the moment. www.sierraswan.com"
The last time we met, face-to-face was March 2006. You opened for James Blunt and we chatted backstage at the State Theatre in Detroit (see photo!). How have you changed as a person since then and over the subsequent seven years thereafter? "I don't think people change that much, but perhaps they get closer to becoming a better version of themselves. Whether that is how they see the world or how they feel about themselves. I have always had a ball of fire in my stomach forcing me to create but I don't know if I understood why it was there. Now I do and I respect my intuitions, rather than fight them. I also have a better relationship with strangers these days."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, we here at Exclusive Magazine LOVE penguins (the birds) ... do you have any love for them, or a funny story, perhaps?! "Well I love them too and the only story that comes to mind is when a friend of mine and I went to go see 'March of the Penguins,' I recall him crying a great deal throughout the film and I had never seen him cry in my life. So I remember thinking how profound penguins must really be, I hope to be a penguin one day. They get it."
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED Girl Who Cried Wolf CD, just answer this question about the lady herself: Linda Perry worked with Sierra on her album Ladyland which featured a duet with a notable singer-songwriter - but who?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win an AUTOGRAPHED Girl Who Cried Wolf CD! Just send us an e:mail here before September 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: SIGNED SIERRA SWAN CD to: firstname.lastname@example.org