Album Release, Eliza Blue with 'South Dakota, 1st of May"

Posted by Heather Benson on

South Dakota musician Eliza Blue's new album, South Dakota, 1st of May, debuts July 7 with an album release concert at The Matthews Opera House, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July, 7. You can watch the second video release from the album here:

VIDEO: Eliza Blue "Song Without Words"

We also spoke to her about her new album and debut track back in May on In the Moment with Lori Walsh:

Lori Walsh:        

You've heard Eliza on In The Moment with her monthly post cards from the prairie. You've heard her here on Moment In Sound and now Eliza Blue's third, full album is set for a July release. It's called South Dakota 1st of May. Today on the program we're bringing you the broadcast debut of the title track, but first welcome Eliza Blue for some conversation. Hey Eliza, welcome. Tell me about the new album.

Eliza Blue:             

Well, I have to say, it's been sort of a series of miracles and I don't say that lightly. I've lived in South Dakota now for seven years, and before I moved here I was pretty much a full time musician, touring on the road, all that. And after moving here, and kind of, getting into ranch life, I thought that that chapter was kind of over for me because I didn't really see a way that I could keep making records, and keep traveling, and also live this life and have a family.

So, just by the strangest coincidence you can imagine, not all that far from me, at least by our terms out here because things are pretty far apart, another musician moved right around the same time that I moved, and he just happened to be the bassist for the band Crazy Horse. So, we ended up meeting at a friend's party on their ranch, just like a little BBQ, and I started working with him on some of his solo work, and he has a studio on his ranch.

Basically, we started getting together and recording some of these songs. My plan had been to just have some pretty lo-fi acoustic covers, just stuff that I could ... Just to keep playing and to keep writing, and what we ended up with is this amazing collaboration. He brought on another musician Jack Hughes, who's actually a sound engineer for the Matthew's Opera House in Spearfish, who would travel all the way up from Spearfish to work with us.

Just the three of us together had really different sensibilities. I'm pretty folky, obviously Billy is pretty rock 'n roll, and Jack's really into pop music, so it was like ... We kept saying, "If we can make a record we all love, it's gonna be a really cool record." So, I still kind of can't believe when I listen to it, it's just, I love it so much. It's just been such a thrill and the whole process, it was magical, is the best way I can describe it.

Lori Walsh:        

Do they love it too? Did you get that synergy that all three of you stand back and say-"Look what we did together." 

Eliza Blue:             

Yeah, we did. Which, I mean, honestly there was some times where it didn't seem like that was what was gonna happen. 

 Where someone would come away like, "Yeah, this isn't gonna work." Like, "No, nope. I don't like it." And then we tweaked something, and everyone just kept throwing in their ideas. Like, "No, I don't like the drums there." So we take out drums, and add something new. So, I mean, it's been a long process. I also had a baby in there, so that slowed us down a little bit. 

Lori Walsh:          

Baby lambs are coming into your house, so you're saving lives, and having a baby, and making a little music on the side.

Have you found though, and this is what I'm really curious about for real, is have you found that you move from one thing to the other, and you've been able to move beyond that, "Oh, shoot. This happened and now it's throwing me off track." To the point where you say, "This is all part of my creative process." Are you there, at that point, where the lamb needs attention, or the babe needs attention, or the music needs attention, and you get that it's all the same thing?

Eliza Blue:             

Oh, my gosh. I wish.

Lori Walsh:          

Me, too. That's what I want to happen in my life. I was hoping you were fully actualized. 

Eliza Blue:             

Oh, goodness no.

Lori Walsh:          

And you could tell me how to do it.

Eliza Blue:             

No, we could have a support group of how to work towards that. But no, it definitely feels like there are nights where I'm like, exhausted. We had these recording sessions, and the next day we'd be going to work on a song, and I'd be up at 1 in the morning trying to finish writing it before the recording session, because the baby had a rough day, or something like that. So, no. It definitely feels like you're a little bit juggling plates, and maybe one of them is gonna fall on your head.

Lori Walsh:          

But that I think is so helpful to other artists to hear that. I know I find it helpful to say, "Okay." Or to make this. 'Cause when you see things that you write, the music that you make, it does seem on this end, flawless. You don't see the behind the scenes stumbles or struggles, or "By the way, that was done in thirty seconds. Oh, that took three months."

We don't get to see the seams. But the seams are there.

Eliza Blue:             

Yeah, oh yeah. And I always have to joke, 'cause there's the whole narrative of like, doing it all. As a mom especially, that somehow you want to still have the life you had before you had kids, but you can't, so there's that. And you just can't. There's just not enough time in the day. And then there's also, I guess it just feels like the more we do, I think it's almost like, an American thing. The more we do, it's kind of showing what good workers we are, and we're really efficient. Especially with art. There's nothing efficient about making art, ever.

I mean, I was saying with this recording process, we've laid something down, and that we decide, "Yeah, that's not working. We don't like it." You have to be willing to work really hard on something, and then also just scrap it if it doesn't work. So, my joke's always that, you can't do it all, so I just don't clean my house. But it's not really a joke.

Lori Walsh:          

No, you know. I had this experience though, Eliza. I came home the other day with my daughter. She's seventeen, and she was studying for her finals in high school. AP tests, and I was getting back to work after a day of work. I said, "I just feel bad that this house is such a mess." And she laughed and she said, "I was just thinking how much I love living in this house, because it feels like I'm already in college, and this is a house where" ... And I was like, "Okay, that's a compliment." You think that the kids want a clean house, and I guess there are some limits to hygiene. 

In general, I don't think they care if the laundry's on the floor. 

Eliza Blue:            

Nope. No, they probably like it. At least my kids are a little enough that they think it's pretty fun to jump on the bed in the laundry pile.

Lori Walsh:          

Right, exactly. So, we don't have to clean our houses today. We've decided that we've enabled each other effectively. You're gonna play at the Black Hills Studio at SDPB's Black Hills Studio this weekend, Friday night. Tell us a little bit about that.

Eliza Blue:             

Oh, well, I'm super duper excited. This has kind of been brewing for a while, and we knew we wanted to release the single on the first of May, because obviously, the soundtrack is called the First of May. It seemed timely. But then, I also just feel that there's so much great energy in the Hills right now. There's the art scene is just exploding. The music scene is just exploding. There's suddenly just a ton of venues that have just opened up. With the Black Hills studio too, I mean that's just at least to me a very exciting thing that is pretty brand new. And it's a really amazing opportunity to have overlap between performance and visual art. 

So, I just thought one of the ... So, we actually have a video that goes with the single. It was made by a photographer friend of mine. He's really really gifted. So, I just kept thinking, 'How can I bring him into this?' We have an opportunity also to showcase his work. And then another photographer, Kristina Barker, who I also just love her work. She's just does great great stuff. The idea was, playing some spring inspired music about South Dakota, having some spring inspired photographs up on the wall, and then Black Hills Vinyl, a really cool record shop in Rapid City, they're gonna come and spin some South Dakota and spring inspired records. And we're gonna have a food truck which is the other thing that I, living here in the middle of the nowhere, I miss some city people things, and food trucks is one of them.

So it's just, basically, what I wanted to do was create an event that I would like to go to, because I don't get to go out that much. 

Lori Walsh:          

What is spring in general ... This has been, I think, for universally everyone in South Dakota, quite a winter. Holding out for spring. I wrote a little bit about it on my blogs, where you can look now. You can find a link to the song, which we're gonna play here in just a minute. It was a tough one, coming through this spring. Tell us a little bit bit about this song, and sort of your thoughts on this transition. 

Eliza Blue:            

 Well, it was funny, 'cause when Christian came out to make this video, we planned this day he was gonna come out, and we had a place in the pasture that we were gonna film, and then we had this epic snowstorm that day he was supposed to come in. It was like, the first week of April. And he couldn't even get here. The roads were too bad. And then he came the next day, and we still couldn't get out to the pasture. There was this drift of snow everywhere. So, I was accused of jinxing us by writing this song. 'Cause it really has this ... Spring was, exactly what I'm describing, where you're just like, "Oh, my golly. Is it ever gonna end?" You know it will, but you kind of, you maybe are starting to just lose hope. Even though you know it will, you know it will come.

And now, it has. So, yay! 

Lori Walsh:          

You write about love, and isolation, and hope, and all those sort of thematic things. How has living in South Dakota versus ... And your life now on the ranch with the kids, with the community that you have, how has that changed from the time where you're in Minneapolis, and maybe doing shows every night. A very different life, but with some of the same core values really.

Eliza Blue:             

Well, I often, I've heard, and I've had experienced, that when you're making work, it's kind of this lag time between what you're experiencing in the present, and what you're working on. This album is really not indicative of the life I'm leading now, that I'm ... Hopefully that will be the next album. Because every thing you just said, I mean, now I do feel like I really have a community. I mean, isolation especially with two really little kids is not a problem. But when I first moved out here, I mean, basically the song South Dakota First of May and the album as a whole, is a little bit of an allegory for that time in my life, which is that I knew spring was coming. I knew things were gonna get better. But they hadn't gotten better yet.

Video: Eliza Blue, South Dakota, 1st of May




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