Neko Case visits Cincinnati’s Taft Theatre
By Leo DeLuca
Neko Case will play Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, Ohio on Tuesday, Oct. 22 in support of her new album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. The album is Case’s first since Middle Cyclone in 2009, an album that debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200 and earned two Grammy Nominations.
Dayton City Paper had the opportunity to interview Neko Case in anticipation of the forthcoming performance, and here is what she had to say …
You’ve traveled and moved a lot in your day. Have you ever been to Dayton, Ohio? If so, what was your experience? What are your experiences with this area of the country?
Many times. It’s always been great – the people are really kind and there’s always something delicious to eat! –Neko Case
Due to a tumultuous family life, you left home at age 15. Where did you go at that juncture? Did you use music as therapy during this point in time? When did you start singing and playing?
I started playing music shortly after that. It was a good focus for me. I didn’t do it consciously though. Kids think that what they live day to day, at least in my case, is the way it happens to everyone else. -NC
Your childhood was “marked by alcoholism and drug addiction.” Did this shape your approach toward alcohol and drugs?
I’m pretty judgmental and shitty about it, truth be told. I hope I overcome it someday, but I’m not that far along. I’ve just been on the receiving end of addiction/alcoholism shittiness for too long. -NC
I’m particularly intrigued by the a cappella track “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu” off the new album. In it, you address a real-life scenario in which you witnessed a mother verbally abuse her child. You tend to write a lot of songs outside normal song structures, but occasionally you have tracks that fit a more conventional pop format. What guides you through the process of making those decisions?
The lyrics and how long or short they are. I also don’t like to repeat things if the point is made better by saying it only once. -NC
You use a lot of imagery from you own dreams in your lyrics. How do you go about facilitating this process? Do you record your dreams?
I write them down, yes. I remember them quite often. -NC
You are single, living on a 100-acre farm in rural Vermont – the place you say you “plan to die.” How does this shape your songwriting (if it does)? Are you mostly alone when home? If so, is this a reaction to performing for thousands of people while on the road? Where in Vermont are you? You’ve lived all over the map, how did you decide on Vermont? Do you stay there during the winter months?
I live in northeastern Vermont. I love it. I lived here for a bit when I was a kid. I have lots of guests and visitors as well as an excellent roommate, so I’m not “alone,” per se, but when I am it’s never lonely. The winter months might be my favorite – I love the cold and the outdoors. I don’t know that it shapes my songwriting, but it takes away the insecurity of not having a home. -NC
You have been releasing music since the 1990s. Comparably, with so many changes in the music industry’s landscape, do you think artists have it harder now than they did back then, or has it always just been tough? Is it harder than ever to monetize a life in the arts – not just for a well-known artist, but for any artist?
People’s access to recording equipment and self-distribution over the Internet has changed things in a good way for artists. It’s relative affordability and immediacy are wonderful. On the other hand, getting lost in the shuffle and illegal downloads don’t help. Just keeping up with the changes in technology is REALLY hard. I almost just wish we’d agree to keep one or two things for a while so we could focus on getting more proficient and spend less time upgrading, translating and keeping up with new fucking basics. (I’m looking at you, Apple!) -NC
What do you think the future of the music industry will look like? Any suggestions for young artists out there?
I really have no idea. I hope people will stop trying to “film” every second. It’s a super drag. I want all of us to be there, in the moment, together again. My suggestion is to PRACTICE A LOT! And play live A LOT. These things make you ready for any situation. Also, familiarize yourselves with copyright and music industry law. Arm yourself. It’s not as hard as it seems. PLUS, YOU are the future. YOU will be the current of how things go. If something seems shifty, it probably is. -NC
Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for the interview! -NC
Neko Case will perform on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the Taft Theatre, 317 E. 5th St. in Cincinnati. Special guest opener will be Karen Elson. Tickets are $35 and $27.50. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Show at 8:30 p.m. For more information, please visit nekocase.com.