Thursday, February 11, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions

Erin Muir

Frequently Asked Questions

HOW DID YOU WIND UP IN INDIA?
I’ve always had a fascination with yoga and meditation; the stories I could tell you about cutting class to study them back when are hilarious! But seriously… after moving to Los Angeles (from Minneapolis), I began working with acting coach Candace Silvers, who’s an extremely astute observer and teacher of human behavior. Every year, she takes her students to India to work with a teacher in Rishikesh (where The Beatles met the Maharishi). She told me my future absolutely relied on going there. Though I didn’t have the funds at the time, I somehow knew it would happen… The next morning, an overdue check arrived for the precise amount needed to cover the plane ticket. I nabbed it, then turned to creative fundraising to handle related expenses. When Candace saw how committed I was, she offered to cover the difference if I paid her back. I was really, really touched... She was right on too… That trip completely changed my life!


YOU PERFORMED FOR PRESIDENT CLINTON AT THE WHITE HOUSE: GIVE US A PLAY BY PLAY.
I arrived in Washington as part of John Jacobsen's "America Sings"- a gathering of young vocalists from across the country. The day of, we met senators, representatives- all sorts of world leaders. It was kind of a blur because I was seventeen and so darn nervous that I’d barely slept all week. We went down the line, shaking hands and suddenly there was Hilary… then Bill... He was just as charismatic and charming in person as on TV. There were throngs of people everywhere and everything happened so fast. The music began… And I was so swept away by this feeling of great elation and light... I stepped forward for my solo and the thrill of the meeting, the music, the moment, the energy… Everything about it was so uplifting. We met Senator Paul Wellstone after, who was still alive at the time. Being from the same state, he invited us to his office and gave me a personal tour of the Senate Building. It was an amazing experience. I could go on and on…


YOU’VE BEEN NOMINATED BY ROCKWIRED FOR FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR WITH “POET’S LOVELY DAUGHTER”. ITS CMJ SINGLE “BLACK BUTTERFLY” CAUGHT MY ATTENTION; WHAT INSPIRED THE SONG?
I wrote it sitting in the back of my 1973 Vogue RV on Harvest Gold cushions… I’d run away from college and sacrificed everything to go on the road with International Girl. We had a lot of crazy experiences- some fun, some scary and everything in between. We’d ended up touring to Florida to play in a Spring Break cover band. A lot of musicians look down on cover bands, but I’ll tell you, I learned more about song writing and structure in one year of that than in my entire academic life! Plus, we almost randomly wound up in Cuba, but that’s another story for another time.


PRAY TELL ABOUT THE CUBAN CONNECTION!
That's one of those crazy touring stories. We were still down in Florida playing covers and people would often invite us over to their mansion/house/apartment to party afterwards. One night, this particular fellow who came to shows invited us back to his yacht. By about 4 a.m., I was exhausted and fell asleep while the rest of the band was living it up. The next morning, I woke up still on the yacht. Michael (our drummer) and the aforementioned fellow piped up that we were on our way to Cuba for cigars and Dulce de Leches. Groggy as I was, I was pretty clear that was NOT a good idea. Don't worry… we never made it to Cuba. Or at least, if we did, I can't tell you about it!


HAS ACADEMIC TRAINING EVER INTERFERED WITH PLAYING IN A ROCK BAND?
Naw. As the Dalai Lama said: “Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.” I began piano lessons at 5, but always wanted to be a singer. At 13- after a great deal of begging and pleading with my parents- went to study voice with Teri Larsen at St. Cloud State while continuing piano with Dr. Edward Turley (Dean of Music, St. John's University). On the other hand, my Dad was a huge Jazz and Blues buff, so we listened to lots of that; there was also this great college radio station [KVSC] that played pretty much everything. At St. Cloud State, world music was a trend. I was constantly exposed to so many different KINDS of music… I’m really grateful for that. Balancing the academic with the heart is what that I strive for, always. Well, that and breaking the rules!


HOW DOES THEATRE INFORM YOUR LIVE PERFORMANCES?
I’ve very thankfully done my time as an actress in various films here in Los Angeles… Musically, I spent several years performing in cabarets. You can’t be afraid of an audience- especially in that environment- or they’ll sense it right away, or worse yet, leave! There’s a lot to handle performing in that arena- hair pulling fights, back stabbing, bustiers; and that's just on stage. I loved it… It’s influenced my song writing, my love of falling into a song, passionately expressing it and of course… my style! We’d always put together these amazing outfits- all very Folies Bergeres- with ruffled bottoms, corsets, top hats and stockings. Or long length evening gowns, wigs and ginormous false eyelashes. I love the camaraderie of the theatre, I try to carry that into band situations. Depending on the venue, I also always try to carry a little burlesque torch with me too!


HAS LIVING IN HOLLYWOOD INFLUENCED YOU AS A SINGER-SONGWRITER?
Certainly! Hollywood has everything. Literally… Everything you could want is here. That doesn't mean you get to go grab it at will, though. Whatever you’re putting out, you’ll see and find. That means, if you desperately want fame, it's here. And whatever you secretly (or outwardly) believe you must do to obtain it and believe about having it will come true. It's like a metaphysical candy store and it’s so easy to choose what's bad because it looks good. That said, there’s a very special creative energy here. Some of the most dynamic, brilliant artists and entertainers in the world live here; it's hard not to find that energy infectious and inspiring. Since everything’s here, there are many ways to be of service, to be kind, to give back. There’s lots of cultural blending. Being here is an extension of all of my life, which has been full of cultural as well as stylistic mixing and matching, which I try to bring to my work.


YOU JUST CAME HOME FROM TOURING “POET’S LOVLEY DAUGHTER”… WHAT’S NEXT?
I’m heading to Austin, TX to play a March 20th date at the Red Gorilla Music Festival. Also just finished starring as "Vangela" in a film called "Pretty Boys," about a Bowie-esque Glam Rock band and their trials and tribulations finishing a sophomore album. I play the band's manager/lead singer's girlfriend. It was directed by Everett Lewis; they’re editing and premiering the film in 2011 at various film festivals. I’m also working on a book- “My Life As A Phone Psychic”. Among the many, many day jobs I’ve held, one was "phone psychic." I originally wrote a play about it, which we produced in Minneapolis. My sister recommended I reincarnate it as a novel, since I'm such a voracious reader. I absolutely love the art form and format of that, so I did, and am in draft two. Thanks for asking and stay tuned!