Interview With Ambience Magazine
This month we talk to Michelle Anderson, one of the members of the indie band Red River.
Red River's music is what I would label eclectic. Your band's style varies widely. Was that deliberate?
No, not at all. It is more a bonding of different life experiences and musical influences. My husband and our band's producer, David, has been writing and recording his own songs since the seventies. I, on the other hand, didn't even try to write a song until sometime around 2001. I cut my teeth on country music, while David is a rocker through and through. Somehow, some way, the meld actually works.
Each of you obviously has your own influences. Can you expand on that?
I'm hesitant to speak for my husband since music is so personal, but I know David was heavily influenced by The Beatles, naturally; plus the Stones and The Doors. He is his own man, however. His music is completely original. It can't be pigeonholed.
My background is simpler. Give me a Merle Haggard song and I'm in heaven. I cut my teeth on sixties country and "three chords and the truth". The first song I ever wrote followed that pattern, although I like to think I've expanded my horizons since then.
Describe a typical session, from the germ of an idea to finished product. Red River is largely self-contained, correct?
Completely self-contained. We are a two-person operation.
Well, we've never actually tried to write together -- we're very independent people, so David has his writing room and I have mine. He's much quicker than me to develop an idea. Often I discard song snippets as quickly as I come up with them; thus I'm a laggard in regard to writing anything decent. If I do chance upon something that seems promising, I will tweak it constantly. My song Ice Storms was actually conceived during an ice storm when we were stuck inside the house. I spent the whole day refining it, particularly the lyrics. If I know I've latched onto something promising, I'm single-minded in seeing it to its rightful conclusion.
David just plows forward and will write, record and engineer a new song in a day. And I'm like, where did that come from?
If I have a song I'm happy with, I'll either record or just sing an acoustic version for David. This provides him with a feel for the song and starts his creative juices flowing. He'll record the entire backing track before he calls on me to record the vocal. He records the lead guitar, rhythm guitar, keyboards, drums and anything else in his arsenal he chooses to employ. Then he tweaks it endlessly; he's a hard taskmaster when it comes to his creative output.
If it's your song, do you insist upon certain parameters?
I view my job as writing the song and singing it. What happens from there is a perpetual surprise. David takes the song to a place it never would have gone in different hands.
So you're a singer and writer and David does everything under the sun. Do you personally assume any other roles?
I create and manage our online presence. I've developed our website and coordinated the creation of Life Is A Dream's album artwork. I am, I guess, the band's publicist. I make sure we are visible to people searching for good independent music. I also chose the tracks and track order for Life Is A Dream.
Tell me about Ghost Town.
I love Roy Orbison, so I set out to write a soaring song in his style. Desolation is a constant theme in my songs, and what fits better than a ghost town? The song has no personal meaning other than the loneliness that all of us feel at some point in our lives.
Remember Me (The Moon) is my current favorite song. I keep clicking on it and listening over and over. Can you provide some insights on it?
David is a mystic. I don't always understand the meaning of his words, but I do understand the feel of the song. It's one of my favorites, too. I may be biased, but I think my husband is a musical genius.
The Best I Can starts out your CD. Why was it chosen and was the retro sound deliberate?
Nothing Red River does is deliberate. We're a "feel" band. As the group's marketer, I felt that The Best I Can was the strongest, most impactful track to introduce people to our music.
Life Is A Dream is a bit deceptive. One thinks it will be a positive song, but it has dark undertones.
The song was conceived at a difficult time. It's bittersweet. Some of the best songs arise out of pain. That's all I'm going to say about that.
Which of Red River's songs receive the most feedback?
It's so strange ~ the tracks that people like the best are not ones I would guess. On our current release it seems that Remember Me (The Moon), Life Is A Dream, Ghost Town, and Prayed For It To Rain garner the most positive responses.
Do you have a personal favorite of the songs you've written?
Heartview. It doesn't get a lot of plays, I'm assuming due to its title, which means absolutely nothing to anyone but me (and my family). Heartview was the name of the rehab facility where my dad finally accepted sobriety. I wrote that song, unlike most of my others, really quickly. I don't necessarily buy into the notion of a muse, but this one came from a magical place. And the recording is awesome! People should give it a spin.
What song does David consider his best?
He has a few songs that have gone through various incarnations and titles. One he is particularly proud of is "When They Go Down"/"Can God Be Touched". It's rather an epic tale and beautiful.
If people want to hear your music, where should they go?
Our website is www.redrivermusic.biz. Folks can sample tracks there, buy an individual track or two, or the entire album if they choose.
Life Is A Dream is also available on CDBaby, which is the site for all things indie. Through CDBaby we've gotten our music distributed to Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, Amazon, Apple Music, and YouTube (just to name a few!)
Red River is a band formed from the bonding of two people clearly devoted to music and to one another. Tell me a bit about your non-musical life.
We have five children between us and four grandchildren (all boys, by the way). We're also the harried parents of Bob and Josie, our Ragdoll and Bichon Frise. We like movies and exploring Netflix. I still work full-time, with the goal (in sight) of retiring to spend more time writing music and ideally a novel or two.
What is Red River's ultimate goal, artistically?
Music licensing would be the ultimate dream -- to hear one of our songs in a TV show or movie. We're not a performing band and we're realistic in our expectations. Regardless, we love what we do and we hope others do, too.