Medleyville.us: You are a big supporter of the pay-what-you-want concept for music, both in terms of digital downloads as well as your physical CDs. Where do you stand on fan-funded recordings? Is there any sense of artistic compromise or extra accountability involved with that?
Carsie Blanton: “All music is supported by the fans and always has been — it’s an illusion that the support comes from somewhere else. If there are no fans, there’s nobody to sing to, there are no records and no record deals. I feel grateful for the opportunity to communicate with my fans directly about the music-making process. I don’t feel at all compromised or beholden to anybody but myself.
“The pay-what-you-please model is appealing to me because it gives fans an opportunity to tell me what the music is worth to them. Music is not inherently valuable — if it doesn’t move you, it’s worthless. If it moves you, it’s worth as much as you can afford. I have had people pay everywhere from $0 to $150 for one of my albums.”
“Under Your Thumb” was written in less than an hour. Where were you when the inspiration struck, and what sparked the writing process?
Blanton: “I was backstage at a show in Boston, waiting to go on. I don’t remember exactly what inspired it; I just remember really connecting to the idea of a woman taking revenge on somebody who was controlling and abusive. It reminds me a little bit of the ‘Cell Block Tango’ from Chicago.”
Talk about some of your musical experiences while living in Eugene, Oregon, as a teenager.
Blanton: “I moved away from home at 16 and went to Eugene to live with a bunch of artists and musicians. For the first year or so I didn’t need a job — I had some savings, did some busking and my expenses were about $100 per month. Everything other than rent money we got for free, Dumpster diving and shoplifting and hitchhiking.
“I joined a funk band and went on my first tour as a backup singer. I remember being really excited to be in bars, with bartenders giving us rounds of shots. I couldn’t think of anything cooler than that at the time. One of my roommates and I started a folk act called the Short Skirts. I remember that was the first time I learned a Nina Simone song — ‘Sugar in My Bowl.’ I was in love.”
Finish this sentence: During this year’s SXSW, I will …
Blanton: “ … walk down South Congress, eat breakfast tacos and hand out pre-release copies of my new EP, Rude Remarks and Dirty Jokes.”
— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior
Carsie Blanton at SXSW 2013 (schedule subject to change):