Rose Polenzani Interview


DM) You recently moved to Santa Barbara; how was the move?

RP) Utah was the most wonderful part, the most awesome part. It took a lot of patience to find a place to live in Santa Barbara, where housing it incredibly tight. The house I live in is beautiful, and there are 150 rose bushes on the premises. I'm very lucky. I haven't been homesick yet. The produce in California is more delicious than in Chicago, but riding my bicycle is more difficult because of the hills. Because I'm on the road a lot, it hasn't hit me yet that I'm not going home, or maybe it will never hit me, because I became so transient to Chicago anyway.

DM) Do you do a lot of biking?

RP) Strictly recreational, because wanting to get around without a car is a big priority for me.

DM) How did you get your start in music?

RP) I dropped out of college after playing guitar and writing songs for a year and a half, and then I played open mikes religiously for a year. And then People Magazine started helping me. It was mind-blowing. People are always helping me. Thank God.

DM) Helping you? In what way?

RP) Doing work on my behalf. Booking help, giving my tape to people, teaching me how to strategically poster a show, offering me split-bills, helping me to expand my songwriting style via example. Taking me to conferences gratis.

DM) Have you ever mentored somebody else?

RP) I've had vague mentors, but no, I would not consider myself a worthy mentor. I'm just too young.

DM) What is your favorite piece of your own work?

RP) "Omen," because I think it has the best imagery and it means the most, because there's no coherent plot, only emotional impressions.

DM) What are some of the emotions that you talk about in "Omen"?

RP) The pain of loss, the secrecy at the beginning of a loss, because of shame. Also, the violent or twisted longings when things happen beyond your control, and happiness of destruction.

DM) Who would you consider as your influences?

RP) They change as I meet them. In order, I'd say Edie Brickell, Leonard Cohen, James, Pooka, and Lorna Hunt.

DM) Have you ever met any of them?

RP) Only Lorna Hunt (although I saw an old apartment of Leonard Cohen's in Montreal once). In fact, Lorna lives in Santa Barbara, and we're becoming friends and playing music together now.

DM) That must be quite an experience. How is that going?

RP) Great! We had a mutually exclusive experience the other day...we swapped solos for the first time in our lives. Trading solos, jamming, is something neither of us has ever felt comfortable doing, and it was wild, and frightening.

DM) Have you ever covered any of these artists' work?

RP) I cover James and Pooka very frequently. Sometimes I pull out a Leonard Cohen song, and once in a while I do an Andrew Calhoun cover.

DM) Where do you see your career going from here?

RP) Further into the places that I really never thought about or think about even now. I expect to be completely surprised, because so far everything has been exactly that.

DM) Your music is definitely a little different from the average folk I've heard. What do you call it?

RP) I like to say "experimental folk"--and I think I get nearer to it all the time. Someday maybe I will say "experimental songwriting" or "experimental rock."

DM) What do you mean by "experimental folk"?

RP) I mean speaking to the heart of real human experience while pushing the boundaries of human perception and expression, both musically and emotionally.

DM) That's pretty powerful.

RP) Let us pray.

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