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An interview with S.J. Tucker, Wonders

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With the album release concert for S.J. Tucker’s new album, “Wonders,” just a few days away you can bet that there is still much to prepare for. The “Wonders” release concert will take place at the Women of Wisdom conference in Seattle on Saturday, February 15, 2014. Even with all o f that excitement S.J. Tucker was able to take a moment to sit down for an email interview which can be read below.

1. Your new album, Wonders, is a magnificent collection of art work and each song is its own separate story. Where do you find your inspiration for the music and stories?

Thank you. :-) Folklore, literature and mythology are all filled with things that often fire up my internal song engine. In this case, all the songs on the Wonders album were inspired by events and characters in Catherynne M. Valente's novel, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I've written a number of songs inspired by Catherynne's works. Her Fairyland novels gave me a chance to push myself to write some new things that are accessible to fans of all ages. I feel that Wonders and the Fairyland books are particularly empowering for girls and women. They follow the adventures of a young woman named September as she journeys from Nebraska to Fairyland and back, becoming both a heroine and a revolutionary as she goes.

2. Many of your songs have a playful tune to them, and its no surprise that you have an attraction to Baubo, but some also have a very serious story line. Is it difficult for you to combine the two?

I find it very easy to shift between the silly and the sacred, as it were. I've had some very good teachers in that respect, people who taught me never to take myself too seriously. This definitely leaks into my song writing. I hope that both the playful aspects of my music and the more serious material have the same effect: that they draw listeners in and makes them feel at ease, make them feel strong and confident when that's what they need, and give them a lift when they're down.

3. There is a song on your new album, Glashtyn Shanty, that has a very guttural sound to it. It really stands out on its own from the rest of the album and some might speculate that it could easily become part of someone’s ritual due to its chant like quality. What are your thoughts about this?

Wow, thank you! As I would with any song, poem, or god form, I would urge anyone who's thinking of using "Glashtyn Shanty" in ritual to do a little bit of research before trying it. The Glashtyn themselves are a part of the folklore of the Isle of Man. They're shape shifters, they're supernatural creatures, and not all the stories about them are nice ones. The Glashtyn in Catherynne's book, and thus the Glashtyn in my song, are definitely not to be trusted, as they delight in pulling ferry passengers into the river!

4. Although nearly every Pagan in the US and possibly world wide has heard of you and knows your music, you remain very humble and down to earth. How do you stay so grounded?

Thank you again. :-) One of the first things I learned at the very first music conference I ever attended was this: don't be a jerk. People will be much more likely to want to work with you if you're a kind and respectful person. Of course, this was also the way I was raised to behave, but it was nice to have it confirmed as a good thing by my professional peers in the indie music world! I believe that you get back what you put in, whether we're talking about a career, a relationship, or just life in general. My career depends very much upon taking the time to connect with people who enjoy my music, and seeing that connection as an opportunity and a privilege. I put out as much love as I possibly can, and so far I've received nothing but love in return from my fans, friends, and supporters. That's a trend worth keeping, I think. I do my best for people I care for when I'm acting as my authentic self, and my authentic self is wired to care a whole heck of a lot. I'm very, very grateful to be wired that way.

As of this spring, I will have been a full time performer for a decade. I could not have done what I love for so long without the support, trust, and magick of my community. Five years ago, I found myself recovering from unexpected surgery, and facing down a whole stack of unplanned-for medical bills. The fact that I'm still performing now, that I was able to bounce back from that situation so completely, is a testament to the support I've always received from people who love my work- it's the kind of support that I will never, ever take for granted.

5. Over the years you have put out more albums and more enchanting music than many main stream performers could ever dream of. Do you have any advice for other artists and performers?

Absolutely. Once you've figured out what your dreams are, don't be afraid, don't quit, and don't do anything that doesn't fit with your instincts. Make as many true friends as you can, and trust them. Ask for help when you really need it. If people make you an offer that doesn't give you a better life than you've already got, say no. Know that your dreams will still make you work, and ask yourself if you're willing to put in the hard work it takes to live your dreams. If the answer is yes, there's nothing you can't do. So don't be afraid to jump, and to fly.

6. Some say that the lyrics in a song are a piece of the writers soul. You have shared so many pieces with us through your music. Is there a song on Wonders that is a more personal piece than the others?

Honestly, the title track is about as autobiographical as it gets. I wanted "Wonders" the song to be an anthem for girls and women, and for adventurers of all types. It's a song about going for the grand adventure, choosing to go for it, even if you're afraid and you don't know what will happen to you. The heroine of the Fairyland books inspired it directly, and most of the lyrics were directly taken from lines in the first book, but the whole thing is also very true for me. I wrote the song when I was in a very heartbroken, exhausted state, but I think it turned out to be a very strong piece.

7. You have an upcoming concert at the Women of Wisdom conference, tell us a little bit about what we can expect at the show.

One of the Women of Wisdom founders, the wonderful Kris Steinnes, convinced me to make my show at the conference into a release concert for Wonders, so the setlist will feature many of the new songs from that album, as well as some very danceable older tunes of mine, like "Firebird's Child", and probably a few even newer songs I haven't even recorded yet! I'll be sharing the stage with my best friend and collaborator, cellist Betsy Tinney from Redmond.
Betsy herself has some new music to share, so we'll likely include some songs of hers from her brand-new Release the Cello album during the show. Giving concerts with Betsy, whether we're focused on my music or on hers, has been one of the great joys of my life.
Our fondest wish for the concert will be to get everyone smiling and dancing, and thinking positively about chasing their dreams and following their bliss, as us girls on stage do.

This Examiner would like to thank S.J. Tucker for taking the time to talk to us about “Wonders” and the creation of the new album. Her music truly leaves us all in wonder and helps bring to life the wonders that exist in each one of us. We look forward to the concert and also to the wonders that S.J. Tucker will bring us in the future.

Want more from this writer?

Follow her on Twitter, join her Facebook fan page, or send her an email with your thoughts or story ideas heather.marseillan@gmail.com

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