The Mynabirds #2 - Interview with Laura Burhenn

The next 'Just Music That I Like' interview is with Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds, whose soul-infused indie album 'What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood' is out now.
It's received wonderful reviews and if you haven't heard of Laura or The Mynabirds, don't let them pass you by.

Thanks goes of course, to Laura for taking the time out to answer my questions:

What's the best gig you've attended in recent memory? Or a band that you’ve played with, who impressed you?

We got to open for the very Reverend Al Green a couple of weeks ago and I was absolutely in heaven. Hands down best show I've seen in recent memory -- at least since Sharon Jones last spring. What a legend. And an incredible performer -- even still. He had his gorgeous daughters singing back-ups, these very classy male dancers, he handed out red roses to the ladies in the audience, danced his ass off, gave a brief sermon (we all gave him an "Amen!") and sang like you wouldn't believe. He gave me hope that I've still got room to grow as a performer. I took notes, which I hope to deliver on shortly -- if not 'til I'm just blossoming in my 70s...

Of your own songs, which are you proudest of?

While I'm immensely proud of this collection of Mynabirds songs, I think the best song I ever wrote was "Cake Parade" while I was in Georgie James. It's an anti-war song, but full of nuance and heartache that was written for a high school friend of mine who died in the bombing of the USS Cole. I started writing it over ten years ago, but it wasn't finished 'til I fleshed it out with (former GJ bandmate) John Davis. When it was released in the midst of the Iraq war, as the death tolls on all sides kept rising and the public was getting more and more exhausted by all the costs of war, it seemed to capture a zeitgeist, for sure. I only wish we'd had a chance to play it on late night or something. I always wanted it to reach out and spur some serious conversation.

Which artists do you feel have influenced your work and continue to do so?

Neil Young, Dusty Springfield, Carole King, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Nina Simone. I love the classics -- especially artists like Neil Young who've made so many great records already, but keep touring, keep reinventing (or being true to) themselves, and who use their music to champion causes greater than themselves. Music is a means of communication -- the deepest, truest communication we have between one another, in my humble opinion. But it can be a vehicle for so much more. I love music as legacy. A lot of the music of the Civil Rights and Vietnam War era is so heavy, so moving. Brilliant documentary put out by PBS a few years back -- "Music of the Civil Rights Era". You watch that and think about the voice music gave an entire movement, a whole generation. That's the sort of music I find most inspiring. I'm also incredibly inspired by artists like David Byrne, Sonic Youth, Carrie Brownstein -- people who are great musicians, but who are also straight up brilliant-minded, multi-dimensional folks who keep stirring up the discourse about just about everything.

Which song do you wish you had written?

Not sure how to answer that question. There are so many greats. But I don't necessarily wish I'd written any of them. Every writer has their time and place. I'm happy to sit back and appreciate. Songs like "Strange Fruit," "Harvest Moon," "Here Comes the Sun," "Just a Little Lovin'" are some of my favorites. I probably wish I'd written that one top ten song that's catchy, thought-provoking, classic, and will help me pay my bills for the rest of my days! Here's hoping it's still somewhere in the cards...

If you were to curate an ATP event, who would you want to invite along?

This might be outside the usual ATP format, but I'd love to throw a dinner party. I'd invite PJ Harvey, Neil Young, David Byrne, Sharon Jones, Rosanne Cash, Al Green, Willie Nelson, Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, Ray Davies, and Carrie Brownstein. And I'd sit with the film crew like a fly on the wall and just marvel at where that conversation would go over courses of some incredibly delicious dinner and fancy desserts. What a bunch of brilliant minds. To have them all in one room discussing whatever their hearts desire would be something to experience, for sure.

Recommend to me, an artist that isn’t getting the attention they deserve.

Richard Swift. Sure his music's out there and he's getting some good attention. But if I had it my way, his songs would be topping the pop charts. And speaking of pop charts -- well, maybe the Top 40's a conversation for a whole other interview... (Up with the artists who've got something good, honest, and relevant to say! Down with the vapid, over-produced, heavily manufactured music that turns a buck and leaves us mentally, socially, and spiritually empty. What people value and throw their money at to support is so often a mystery to me...)

Thank you so much Laura for such thoughtful words and a great insight into your creative process.

Please support The Mynabirds and their record 'What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood'. The album is available in a number of formats directly through their label, the excellent Saddle Creek (BUY).
As I mentioned in my review post, there really is a deal to suit everybody.

Everything you can see in the above picture for just $45. I've worn my Mynabirds grey T-Shirt out in London town a few times already (never seen another one mind!), it's got the wonderful Mynabirds crest on it, and then there really are more extras than you can shake a stick at! Truly Brilliant. Alongside Pledge Music, I think this sort of merchandise deal is the furute on income generation for artists, in a time when Spotify generates something like 0.001 pence per play. Anyway, that's a topic for another day...

The band are on tour throughout the US and Canada in September. Surely worth a visit if they hit your neighbourhood. London please! Go here for a list of the dates.

As I've done with the my other interviews so far, here is a mix-tape of some of the songs Laura mentions, enjoy:
The Mynabirds Mix by morrisday

The Mynabirds - Let The Record Go from Saddle Creek on Vimeo.