A few posts ago I introduced you to singer-songwriter Priscilla Ahn. Just last week Grey's Anatomy featured one of her songs from upcoming album, A Good Day, on it's season finale. I'm hoping to post a clip of that segment soon. In an email interview with Priscilla, she filled me in on her transition into the music industry, her recent Hotel Café Tour and hopes for the future. Read on for more of the interview and be sure to check out Priscilla's debut album, hitting stores June 10.
Did you grow up thinking you would be a singer? Do you remember the day you said to yourself, "This is what I'm going to do"?
I grew up thinking I'd be an English teacher. I guess, the day I decided I wasn't gonna go to college is the day I knew for sure I wanted to really try making some sort of career out of singing and songwriting.
You moved from Pennsylvania to L.A. to pursue music. What prompted that decision and how did you adjust to everything?
I visited L.A. with some musician friends from Philadelphia. We were on a songwriting road trip. As soon as we drove into Los Angeles, I fell in love with the place. One month later, I was on the road solo, driving from PA to CA. Amazingly, at 19, I feel like I adjusted alright. I was never really homesick. I learned the streets pretty fast. I met people pretty fast. I guess I saw the whole thing as an adventure where I couldn't lose, and totally dove in head first.
Do you feel the move paid off?
Definitely. If I'd have gone to college, or just stayed in Pennsylvania, my life and career would be nowhere near where it is now.
What has been the biggest struggle for you?
My biggest struggle I think has been finding myself musically. Being a young girl I had anybody and everybody telling me what songs should sound like. It took me about a year or two to figure out that I hated writing songs the way all the songwriting magazines and crap were saying you should. I knew I was different from that, and I didn't like my creativity living in a box. So I tore the box down and wrote less-structured songs that were fun to sing.
I saw the NYC date of the Hotel Cafe Tour at Irving Plaza and really enjoyed your performance. Was this your first tour with all the performers? How did the tour go for you?
This was my first tour with all the other performers, except for Cary Brothers, who brought me on the road last summer, which was a lot of fun too. I had a lot of fun on this tour too, granted it was only five or six dates, but they were in fun cities. The crowds were so great at all the shows, I'd definitely do it again.
Do you have a favorite song to perform?
It depends. I enjoy playing pretty much all my songs, which is a good thing I guess. Sometimes my favorites to play are the ones I don't get a chance to play that often, and for some reason, the day of the show I decide to play it because I really need to. Those become the most satisfying, because it served a purpose for me.
I really like your song, "Wallflower." In one of your press kits you said it was about when you first moved to L.A. and were basically a wallflower at all the parties. Has L.A. gotten better since you wrote the song?
Yes. I've become a little more outgoing for one. Not so aloof. Also, the parties have gotten better. Those parties were filled with a bunch of people I didn't know, or want to know. The parties these days are more of get-togethers and dinners with good friends where we play games and stuff.
How was the process making A Good Day? Is it everything you imagined recording your first album would be? Did you go into the studio having a certain concept for the album?
The process was extremely educating as far as creative group dynamic in confined spaces go. I learned to really work with people. I was never very big into working in groups growing up. I had no idea what recording my first album would be like. I'd hoped it would be as easy as making my EP was, but it was a little different, a little more involved, and the stakes were a little higher. I don't believe we had a real concept for the album going into the studio. We were very much like, let's play the songs and make them fun and beautiful.
How did you decide which songs to cover?
My friend Gus Seyffert, who was a big part of the whole recording process, suggested both songs to me. "Masters In China" is a song his friend Benji Hughes wrote. I fell madly in love with the lyrics and the body of the song. Gus found "Opportunity To Cry" on an old Willy Nelson demo. Again, the lyrics were heartbreaking and also sort of sassy and funny to me.
Do you write all the music and lyrics to each song? What is your typical writing process like?
I do. I'm starting to co-write with people too, which can be really fun and rewarding too. Typically, I'll stumble on a chord progression that in turn will evoke the first line of lyrics. Usually whatever will float off the tip of my tongue, and then I trust that whatever that first line is about, is what the song is supposed to be about, and I just go with it from there.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I'm hoping a lot of touring, and at the same time, a lot of time for writing. If I can maintain the lifestyle of have doing what I'm doing right now, that'd be pretty awesome.
For more on Priscilla check out her MySpace.