Close this search box.

Stay up to date

Subscribe to our weekly
e-newsletter for news and updates

Advertise with us


Press Photo 3

There’s much to like about Canadian singer songwriter Lindi Ortega. Since delivering her debut album The Taste of Forbidden Fruit in 2001, Ortega has built an ever-growing legion of fans with her alluringly sweet, yet powerful voice and engaging country-noir tunes. The Juno Award-winning artist has just released her fourth full-length album Faded Gloryville and took time out to chat with Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips from her home in Nashville.

Faded Gloryville, the title track of Lindi’s album is an ode to a place many artists find themselves in. It’s that ‘paying your dues’ period that most musicians go through and think is never going to end. You come to the crossroads and have to decide whether to pursue the dream or resort to the safety of a day job. Ortega found herself in this position many times and fortunately for us, pushed on and through a lot of blood, sweat and tears, has found a pleasant little niche for herself in the music world. Lindi wanted to address those moments and the feelings that come with it in song and consequently Faded Gloryville was born. The album was recorded in three separate sessions; two in Nashville with producers Dave Cobb and Colin Linden and one in Alabama with Ben Tanner and John Paul White, famous for their recording work in the legendary Muscle Shoals studio. I began by asking Lindi if the different studio environments had an effect on the way the songs were recorded.

“They are all kind of different. For two of these sessions, they were recorded at the same studio, which was a legendary studio in Nashville called Sound  Emporium. It was built by Cowboy Jack Clement, a legendary fellow. He’s no longer with us but he worked with Johnny Cash. He built this really beautiful studio that a lot of people record at. There are two rooms, studio A and B. the first session was recorded in the smaller of the rooms and the second was with Dave Cobb in the larger room. So I spent a lot of time at the Sound Emporium. Then I went to John Paul White’s little studio, a converted bungalow and it was different but really cool. There’s a whole magical history of Muscle Shoals that just seeps through everything in there and it is so inspiring. They are so entrenched in that and they exude that. They have such a respect for the history of the music. The session players which they had come and play on the record … it was beautiful to watch. It wasn’t like this rollerdesk of session players that they call up, it seemed like they were genuine friends… friends of the family who would hang out regardless of the music and that was really nice to see … such a close kinship of musicians. I thought that was really inspiring. We had a legendary bass player, David Hood (Traffic, Cat Stevens, Boz Scaggs, Paul Simon), who you may have seen in the Muscle Shoals documentary. He played on so many amazing tracks and he was kind enough to play bass on the three tracks we did at Muscle Shoals. It was really interesting going from one studio to the other and session to session, each producer was different in their approach so you had to get into their headspace. It was a challenge to go from the Muscle Shoals sessions with Ben and John and then go into the Sound Emporium in Nashville the next day with Dave Cobb. I was worried at first because you worry about continuity and cohesion but I found it very inspiring.”

What kind of things do you learn with each new recording experience? Do you have a clearer picture sonically the more you do it?
With this thing, I was given the right to choose who I wanted to allot the songs to and that was an interesting challenge. Colin Linden has more of an ambient vibe to him and likes to create soundscapes. He worked under T Bone Burnett as a producer and I think he was really good for the songs we picked for him. For the more soulful songs, we went of course to the Muscle Shoals sessions as that’s the sound they are famous for. Then for what I like to call the barn-burners, the fast rollicking tongue in cheek country tunes, we went to Dave Cobb.

LindiI’m not so sure Faded Gloryville is an appealing place to find yourself but is it a place we all need to visit at least once in our lives?
I look at it as a state of mind. I think when you start out with a big dream, you’re kind of romanticising and you have grand ideas and hopeful naivety. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work out that way. Reality can kind of hit you … I like to say, like a ton of bricks. You have to figure out if you want to get buried by those bricks or build something from it. The first time it happened to me I was signed to a major label. It was a sub-label of Interscope records in Santa Monica. When I signed it was an eclectic label and then Lady Gaga was also signed to that label. All of the acts who initially got signed to the label eventually got dropped and replaced by pop acts and Lady Gaga became this huge ‘phenom’ and the label followed suit and that was my first time visiting Faded Gloryville. That was when the glory of the dreams I had, sort of faded after that and I had to reassess what I was going to do. Was I going to give up or was I going to take up house in Faded Gloryville and live there forever or move on? That’s not to say you don’t ever go back. It is kind of a transient place. Being an independent artist, there is such an ebb and flow and there are times that you doubt whether you should keep doing it and should you get a job that guarantees job security and health benefits and retirement funds? You encounter these moments of doubt and that’s when you can go back or go, OK I will try to get this song to radio and then you get disappointed because it doesn’t take and you have to reassess what you are chasing. Are you chasing getting a hit song on radio or are you just trying to have a career? There are all these questions and I don’t think it even just applies to music. You can apply that to anybody with a big dream and the ups and downs they incur in their journey. I can only relate it to my journey as a musician but there are of course, other journeys. In my journey, it might have been a whole different story if I was signed when I was 19 and things started to hit the stratosphere and that’s how it all worked out for me but it didn’t work out that way. It’s hard to gauge success when it’s so slow building and hard to see it. I think it is a lot easier for people to see when a big thing happens, something over night. You’re kind of building it one brick at a time so it’s hard to understand that it is happening and you’re doing it. It is just happening very slowly. So it was just a very real and raw feeling that I wanted to tap into and that I wanted to show because I think a lot of people have this glorified impression of what it is to be a musician. I hear it all the time and I don’t blame them because they don’t see the other side. They say it’s so exciting, you get to tour and travel the world and do interviews and photoshoots and they see that glam side of it but they don’t see the very hard work and the scheduling and the sacrifice that there is and all that stuff that is involved. There’s incredible self-doubt that can happen along the way which makes you question everything. So I kind of wanted to address it a little bit. It seems kind of dark but it needed to be said.

Would you ever collaborate with someone like Lady Gaga?
You know what, I don’t say no to anything. I think music is amazing because you can totally try all these sorts of things and nothing is bad and nothing is wrong. Back in the day, I don’t know if know of Major Lazer and Diplo? I did a song with Major Lazer and Collie Buddz a reggae artist, a collaboration with them and it was fun. It was nothing like the music I do right now but it’s kind of nice to step away sometimes and be totally open to trying different things. As long as it feels honest and good and fun for me then it is worth trying.

How did you come across the Bee Gees song, To Love Somebody which is on the new album?
I am a Nina Simone fan first of all and I was watching Nina Simone on YouTube and I went down a rabbit hole of Nina Simone songs and she covered The Bee Gees To Love Somebody. I hadn’t heard her recorded version, only her live version which was devastating, just moved me so incredibly. Then I realised it was The Bee Gees who actually wrote that song. I thought it was really interesting how it sounded …The Bee Gees recording and then from a women’s perspective, Nina’s beautiful, aching soul version of it. I think I fit somewhere in between the two versions. I was covering it at live shows and it was going over really well. The manager said you should put that on the record. I just really, really love the song.

Lindi 2Your main guitar is the Gibson Hummingbird. Is there a romantic story behind that or is it just something you picked up in a guitar shop?
There’s a tragic story behind it actually. It is a guitar that I got especially custom made for me about 8 years ago from Gibson. I was so excited to get a cherry burst Hummingbird. I played it for years, countless shows, all over Europe, UK, US, Canada, So many songs had been written on it. Then one day, on a flight from Iceland to Toronto, an airport container sat on top of my guitar case and broke my guitar. It had a crack from the bottom side of it … from the neck all the way to the bottom and there was a hole. I thought i would have to say goodbye and never see that guitar again and I actually really cried. I was upset. I thought I was going to have to hold a funeral for my guitar and say my farewells. Somebody told me about a guy whop could fix guitars really well so I took it to him and he put some braces in it and glued it back together. And because it is on the bottom side of the guitar, nobody can tell that it’s had such an horrific injury. Originally I had nicknamed the guitar  Birdy because it was a Hummingbird and now it’s called Frankie after frankenstein because it had to be glued back together and has  crazy scars. I’m still playing it and it sounds great and I will probably play it until it gets more injuries.

What memories do you have of your last Australian tour and when will we see you again?
I have amazing memories of it. First of all of Justin Townes Earle who was amazing to tour with and I have grown to love Marlon (Williams). I love Marlon, he is such a sweet, wonderful person and he is an incredible singer. I just saw him recently at a folk festival in Vancouver and he came over for it. I was just reminded of how wonderful and talented he was. And I love Australia so it was so much fun, such a great time and wonderful experiences there and I really would like to go back and experience it again soon.

Share this