It may not make her popular among singer--er--entertainers, but Amy Lotsberg has her own take on what makes a true musician--female or otherwise. To get to know her and her interesting way of thinking, read her stellar interview below. Then, skip on over to her independent musicians blog Collected Sounds for some true indie appeal.
Tell me about yourself.
I grew up in a musical home. My dad is an actor/director/producer (stage/TV) and my mom is a dance teacher. So there were always showtunes playing on the stereo. They also liked folk and some pop music so I got to hear a little of that too. My very first favorite song was “Too Late Baby” by Carol King. Of course I had no idea what it was about…and I just gave away my age too. Currently live in an old haunted house in Minneapolis,MN with my husband, two dogs and a cat.
The name of your blog is Collected Sounds. What does the name mean?
Well, I was trying to come up with a name for the site and one day I was listening to Dar Williams. The song, “What Do You Hear in These Sounds” came on and there’s line where she says, “I collect these sounds in my ears…” just hit me. She wasn’t talking about music or songs, but that’s when I realized, that’s kind of what I do. I am a music collector, and I basically collect sounds. Also the site can be seen as a place to find a collection of sounds.
Why focus on women and then branch off into men? And why the indie and not the mainstream?
It began being just woman, indie or not. In fact, the first artists I featured were Sarah McLachlan, Dar Williams and Ani DiFranco (my trio of perfection). But as the site became more well known and I started getting unsolicited music submissions (where the artists were 90% indie) I realized that there was a TON of music out there that hardly anyone knew about. So I took it upon myself to get their names out there, especially the truly good ones. Along the way I started to receive submissions from some men as well. Whether they didn’t read my submission criteria or didn’t care, I don’t know. But I realized that there wasn’t anything wrong with including them too. I didn’t want myself or the site to be seen as being against men (I love men!) so I slowly started featuring men as well. I’ve always been partial to the female voice, but there are some fantastic men out there and I wanted to be able to help them as well. The sites is still probably 85-90% female oriented. Just out of personal preference.
What’s your take on female rockers and female guitar players?
As with any genre. There are some great ones and some not so great. Since I don’t play guitar, it’s hard for me to ascertain whether or not someone is technically good, so I go with what I like. I tend to prefer the gothic/lushly layered rock or the folky rock rather than classic rock. I also prefer the clear pretty vocals rather than raspy Joplin-esque types. But again, that’s just personal taste. And there are always exceptions. I’m glad that the music world seems to be opening up for these woman. It seems like there are a lot more of them now than there were 20 years ago and they’re getting a bigger voice. So that’s improvement.
Who are the famous female rockers and guitarists you love?
I would say my favorite by far is Ani Difranco. Even my untrained ear can tell she’s a great guitar player as well as an amazing songwriter. Her music gives me chills. I also like Plumb, Carina Round, My Brightest Diamond, The Breeders, Belly…and from my youth: Heart and Joan Jett (I reviewed Jett’s latest one and man, she’s still got it.)
According to your FAQ section, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears are not female musicians. Explain what you mean by that.
Well, I know this isn’t going to make me popular among singers, but here it is: I don’t count the voice as an instrument. In order to be called a “musician” I think you ought to play an instrument. Now, since I wrote that, it’s possible these ladies have picked up a guitar making this statement untrue. I mainly put that in my FAQ because I was getting some emails saying, “Why don’t you have Britney on here!?” I figured that what I was trying to do with the site wouldn’t appeal to those who find her (and those like her) appealing, so I wanted to get that out in the open. This site was/is not tailored to manufactured pop starts, but to serious musicians. Don’t get me wrong, I may be caught tapping my toes when I hear one of those fun pop songs, but those performers don’t need free promotion from me.
Also I grew up singing. I’ve performed at several events and been in musical theater productions. I don’t consider myself a musician. Anyone can sing (not all can sing well, mind you—but that never stopped anyone from becoming famous.) So from a purely personal angle, I admire people who can do MORE than sing. Those are the folks I’m going to spend my time promoting.
What kind of message can the female musicians on your site teach us about music, achieving goals, and female empowerment?
Well, this is sort of why when I do a spotlight on an artist I don’t want the “bio” to be a story about their new album; which so often is what passes for a “bio” these days. I want the bio to be just that, a biography. I want to show readers where this person started. Where she grew up, what got her interested in music, the steps she took to get where she is now and where she hopes to go. My hope is that it can serve as an inspiration to others out there who are thinking of taking this career path. Or even just inspire someone to keep chuggin’ along.
What female rockers that you know are examples of this message?
Again I’d say Ani DiFranco. She started her own label and just did whatever the heck she wanted without caring what people were going to say about it. Turned out pretty good for her.
What kind of men are featured on this site? What do you mean when you say it’s a good source for independent artists?
The kind of men that are featured are really just what my reviewers and I personally like. The men whose music has crossed my desk (or my ears) and it’s meant something to me. It’s not rocket science, it’s just what I like.
As far as the site being a good source, I mean that in two ways. Firstly, for musicians: It’s a place for up and coming musicians to get noticed. If we do a review or a story, it’s seen by a lot of people. And also for fans: It’s a good source for finding out about music you didn’t know you needed to have. I don’t mind being blamed for someone spending too much money on music.
What would you say to a girl who said female musicians are hard and have lost their sex appeal?
Hmmm, interesting, I have not heard that before. I would say that I disagree. Lot of things can be sexy, doesn’t have to be just softness. Sexiness is subjective. I think talent is sexy. Whether it’s on a man or a woman and no matter what they look like.
Where are you looking to go with Collected Sounds?
I like the road it’s on now. Expanding in size and content, getting a larger readership. I admit to having an ongoing fantasy where I turn the whole concept into a live music venue, a physical place where I can book whatever artists I want, whenever I want and give a place for these great artists to play. But, that requires money and also people to come to the shows. From hosting house concerts for 9 years, I know right now hardly anyone is going to shows so I’d say that’s a ways off. Until people start turning off their TVs and leaving the house (I know, I am guilty of it as well) it’s too much of a risk. So for now I’m happy just plugging away at the site and learning about new favorite artists every day and passing on the excitement to our visitors.