Theresa Andersson's relationship with the music world seems to parallel some of the great female performers of the past such as Carly Simon or Janis Joplin. She has a bold air about her, and her vibrant smile and smoldering voice drive a soul wild. Her stroke on the violin is like the devil touching the fiddle. She's been called the "Diva of New Orleans" and "a love child of Bonnie Raitt and Dave Matthews." Her voice has been described as "a choir of angels singing" and "a voice like golden honey." She's been recommended by everyone from Jon Gutwillig of the Disco Biscuits to Aaron Neville, and her recent adventures have included an invitation to play at the Fender Stratocaster 50th Anniversary celebration with greats such as Joe Walsh and David Gilmour. Theresa has even sung her way into a cameo in the new movie "A Love Song for Bobby Long." The creative energy just flows from her like it's coming up out of a well. It's no wonder that everyone wants to share a piece of stage with the lady from Sweden.
Theresa Andersson :: Pool Table in Philly
I had a quick opportunity to share a piece of her time while she was touring with the Spirit of Guthrie. Unfortunately, the evening's show was cancelled, but Theresa was a class act. She stayed around for two interviews and a quick pool table performance.
JamBase: You say the most important thing to you is to feel an audience connection. "Good music can't happen without energy from both sides." I witnessed an incredible connection between you and the audience at the Allgood Festival this past summer, especially during the song "Good Girl." Could you share with me some other connections you have had with audiences that are memorable?
Theresa: Sure, the audience connection is about you singing about something the audience can relate to. Take for instance the "Good Girl" song. Girls can relate to that feeling of being a little naughty, but at the same time being good. Of course, the guys like that or can relate to that, so both groups really enjoy when I sing that song. Whenever I sing a song that has lyrical matter, whether it's heartfelt, a break-up, or some sort of triumph in my life, I can share that connection with people and get it out, and they say, "Yeah, we know. We've been there."
Theresa Andersson :: Jazz Fest 2003
Sometimes you want to be fun, and you want to show off a little. My best story is from Jazz Fest three years ago. The crowd had grown to about seven or eight thousand people. I walked out onstage in a bikini top and a skirt. About halfway thru the set, I dropped the skirt to reveal nothing but body paint. All seven thousand people, dare I say, simultaneously inhaled and sucked the air out of where I was standing.
JamBase: That's great!
Theresa: It's entertainment. You can't always do those crazy things. Every now and then, I like to push it to be just a bit unpredictable. Sometimes I'll do numbers where I'll just sing and play violin, like on this tour. That brings a different type of response from the audience.
JamBase: So does the mood of your performance reflect the audience's mood or vice-versa?
Theresa: Sometimes it will affect how I choose my next song, but a lot of times I have a clear idea of where I want the set to go. I guess I try to lead the audience a certain way with the show. Lately, I have tried to quiet it down more and make it more about the intimacy of my voice and not being on top of my lungs the whole time. In doing so, I have to get that quiet intensity which kind of helps to bring people in with vocal enticement. It can be a bit more mystical and I've been having fun playing like that.
Theresa Andersson by Jake Krolick
Do you write your own songs? Place me in your shoes for the song writing process.
I write a majority of them, and I co-write with people. Sometimes I sing other people's songs and have success with them. "Good Girl" isn't my song. It's from a song writer in New Orleans. I always try to say something with my songs, but lately it's been quite an effort for me. I haven't been able to bring out what I have wanted to convey emotionally, and I work off of emotions a lot. I'm not a really wordy person. I try to communicate in other ways. I'm searching right now for the means and the ways to express that. When I do write, it comes from reading something, or talking to someone. When I travel, I do keep some notes. If there's something that moves me, I'll write it down. For instance, when I watch those long-legged mosquitoes flying into the light at the nighttime - Why do they just keep diving into the light?
In what direction do you think your music is going?
It's subject to change. I actually just read an interview with a musician from Canada that said they just wanted to do a key change for their next album, and the album comes out and it sounds totally different. I am thinking "What?" but it sounds gorgeous. I guess I would like to do something with that quality and integrity.
Theresa Andersson by Amy Dickerson
So are you pushing towards what might be considered a more mainstream or pop-oriented career?
No, I don't think that's me. I am definitely in a different arena then that, and I think I draw on a slightly older audience. Not that I don't watch MTV. That's just more pop then I want to be. I love Americana and Roots and I love jamming, but I am definitely searching for a cohesive something that has a line through it - a story in a record similar to what I present in my show. That could possibly take off into something big. I am not trying to be anything popish.
It's interesting to hear your stance because, at least with the recognition you've received and the movie cameos, it felt like you might be moving toward that mainstream exposure.
Well yeah, at one time it was leaning that way a little bit. It was cool because it got us some more recognition and opened more doors such as television and film. I am going to continue to open up more inside myself that's interesting and try to share that in a fun way.