FACTFILE: Odetta Hartman
08 Jun 2016
Getting to know the experimental New York folk singer
Fact file is a quick need-to-know Q&A intro to the emerging acts that just might go on to become your new favourites.
This week: Odetta Hartman
Artist name: Odetta Hartman
Musical origins: "'Tally Marks' (2012) was the first solo album officially recorded under my birth name, Odetta Hartman - though I've been playing music under that moniker since the age of 4!"
Previous musical activity if any: "Every Saturday growing up was spent rehearsing with orchestras and chamber music groups at Third Street Music School, a true East Village institution. In high school, I started writing & performing original music, and during my time at Bard College, I toured & recorded with a bluegrass-folk band called The Sparrows. Immediately after graduation, I set off on a cross-country tour with my pal Gryphon Rue, an experimental sound artist whom I still collaborate with to this day. I've had the great pleasure of recording and performing with so many talented artists: from the legendary jazz conductor, Butch Morris, to the Daptone horns, to my siblings aka The Hartstrings, to Albuquerque desert-rock outfit Young Lungs, to a cabaret-themed ensemble, This Ambitious Orchestra, and so many more diverse projects.
My second EP, 'BARK', was recorded at Mama Coco's Funky Kitchen, a rambunctious rock n roll Brooklyn collective, but everything changed when I met my partner Jack Inslee and we began the 222 adventure."
First song you wrote: "The first song I ever wrote randomly popped into my head on a family trip in Florida. There was this one phrase that caught me off-guard and I remember being buried in my notebook the entire day, counting syllables and matching rhymes. Everything seemed to pour right out of my teenage soul and I pretty much haven't stopped writing since."
First gig: "Since I don't think a 'Twinkle Twinkle' recital counts, I'll reminisce about the first time I performed an original composition, "Ode To You", at a high school open mic. My hands would not stop sweating and I had such bothersome butterflies I thought I was going to puke! With my eyes shut tight, I blocked out the crowd and had my first blackout on stage, immersing myself completely within the music. When I finally came to, it felt like I had been hypnotized."
Biggest influence (musical or otherwise): "Musically: Karen Dalton, Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse & Erykah Badu are my biggest sheroes. Life-wise, I am eternally thankful for the support & inspiration my parents, Doris & Phil, and my siblings, Leon & Camellia, have continuously provided. And of course I have to add my partner & producer Jack Inslee as a major influence. When we launched our life of collaboration, Jack completely exploded all of my notions about music, art, and love. His determination to break new ground and push into unknown frontiers has challenged us both to discover uncharted depths within ourselves, and to invent a new language to communicate with each other and the world at large. Needless to say, Jack is my muse."
If you could support anyone on tour, who would it be: "I'm currently a big fan of Lucius & Grimes, and it would certainly be a dream to be a part of a Flaming Lips production."
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? "The Beatles!!!!"
Recommend us a book: "Motel Chronicles - Sam Shepard; Just Kids - Patti Smith; The Dying Animal - Philip Roth; Mules & Men - Zora Neale Hurston; The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon"
What is, in your opinion, the best - not your favourite, but objectively the best - song of all time and why: "Wow. Too hard to say! Obviously, I am blown away by everything in Prince's discography.
But Jack & I also recently revisited 'Paranoid Android' by Radiohead, which is undeniably epic and a modern masterpiece. The choices in production, song structure, lyrics, performance, concept and mood combine to present a truly complete and unique thought. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the classic blues, 'House of the Rising Sun' - which feels to me like there's a ghost living within it that will continue to haunt us all for many more centuries to come."
You've got three albums for your Desert Island Discs, what are they: "1. Harry Smith - 'Anthology of American Folk Music'; 2. Outkast - 'Aquemini' 3. Charlie Parker with Strings"
Ultimate ambition?: "To have a positive impact in the world, through a life dedicated to working in music, education, and healing."
The world ends tomorrow, what do you spend today doing: "Swimming in the Delaware Water Gap, having a massive picnic / dance party / sing-a-long, and giving thanks with all of my loved ones around a campfire.
I actually wrote an apocalyptic song about going out in style that pretty much sums it up!"
Listen to Odetta's apocalyptic verse HERE.
And catch her headlining Servant Jazz Quarters on July 13. On sale now: http://www.seetickets.com/event/odetta-hartman/servant-jazz-quarters/987360