One on One with Ana Egge
Very tall, extremely blonde and openly gay, singer-songwriter Ana Egge released her sixth studio album Road to My Love, in early 2009. Billed as her most personal work to date, the disc opens with the quietly apocalyptic “Storm Comin’” and closes with a version of the standard “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” In between, Egge recounts meetings with park rangers (“Bully of New York”) and war veterans (“Carey’s Waltz”) and also sings about her own upbringing (“Farmer’s Daughter”). Egge has spent her life moving from place to place–Canada, North Dakota, New Mexico and currently, Brooklyn.
What was it like growing up in North Dakota?
I know it to be a really beautiful, vastly open space. There’s nothing there, so you have so much space and time in a day…Just a lot of sky and land, great sunsets. It was beautiful.
The winter was pretty isolating in [the] opposite way from the rest of the year. That openness was all of a sudden kind of harsh, unforgiving snow. On the school bus, we had to have a bag that was kept under our assigned seats that had an extra snow suit, an extra set of shoes, a can opener and two cans of food in case we got stuck in a blizzard! So it was a drastic change between seasons.
Was it difficult being gay and an artist in conservative North Dakota?
Well, we moved to New Mexico, which is where I experienced puberty and being attracted to anyone. So North Dakota was actually prior to that. My parents were pretty left of center. They don’t like to call themselves hippies but they wore tie-dyes and made their own tofu and grew an amazing garden and listened to The Grateful Dead. [laughs] So I knew what it was like to be outside of straight society, so to speak.
What’s it like to finally be legally married to your partner?
My partner and I got married in Boston legally and then we had our private ceremony in New Mexico. And it’s been ridiculous learning more and more what that doesn’t mean. We still carry around our marriage license and our birth certificates. If, for example, one of us were to fall ill in an emergency situation, we’d have to prove that we were married. They say [gay marriage is] legal but there’s just so far to go.
What was the inspiration for “Storm Coming”, the opening track on your new album?
It would be about a relationship that’s almost harmful. Because you’re drawn to that thing which hurts you.
Road to My Love came out on Parkinsong Records. They do a lot of good work for people with Parkinson’s Disease. Can you talk more about that label?
The head of the label is Rob Litowitz [whose] mother was afflicted with Parkinson’s for many years. I met him years ago…Then he called me up one day and said he had this idea to put out a CD compilation to benefit the cause and he realized he might have to start his own label to [do that]. He was wondering about asking musicians to donate tracks. [The response] was overwhelmingly positive. He ended up doing a two-disc compilation with songs by Bonnie Raitt and David Crosby and all kinds of great musicians. [When] I had just made my record Out Past the Lights and was shopping it around, he said, “If you don’t find what you’re looking for in a label, I hope that I can [give it to you]”… So he and I have been working together ever since. I just love him.