By Lisa Schumaier
Photo Courtesty oif Matador Records
Chan Marshall, who performs with the band Cat Power, started off her current tour at Club Congress last night. Her tour is in support of her first album of original songs in five years.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday February 13, 2003
Interviewing a celebrity can seem absurd. However, Chan Marshall of Cat Power is a different variety of celebrity. She shies away from recognition, isn't willing to let the industry make a miracle product out of her, and has been known to leave the stage in tears mid-song apologizing to her audiences. Why are fans so forgiving of a star who cannot seem to handle stardom?
Cat Power is releasing its fourth album, You Are Free, and loading up the van; Marshall will be smooth-talking her lyrics all over the country.
WILDCAT: Why You Are Free as the title of your album?
MARSHALL: About five years ago, I was walking down the street, and there was this piece of cardboard. I think I was having one of those days where it was really sunny and beautiful, but yet I felt like, "Oh, fuck everything." There was this rectangle cardboard floating and it stopped. And I was like, "Am I supposed to pick that up? Throw it away, look at it, what is it?" I turned it over and in magic marker, black ink, really scrawling chicken scratch it said in capital letters, "You are free." I was like, "Thank you." I nailed it above my door so every time I left I would see it.
WILDCAT: Do you consider yourself folk?
MARSHALL: No, I don't consider myself anything · a female. I know 'cause I checked everything out.
WILDCAT: Do you feel that as a female you always have two jobs, one as musician and the other as feminist?
MARSHALL: I have a responsibility mostly to respect myself ÷ in interviews, in restaurants or on tour ÷ to speak up.
I would want (surgeons) to take out my brain, but they would probably find a lot of old bubblegum.
- Chan Marshall
WILDCAT:: Is there any girl in the music business right now that you feel has it all wrong, and what would you say to her?
MARSHALL: I don't want to be mean. I must say that I like Christina Aguilera's "beautiful" statement, that song "You are beautiful" blah, blah, blah. So I won't get mad at her about shaking her ass. It would have to be Britney because she makes a lot of young girls feel strong about looking good, but she doesn't understand what a tough time they are going to have. It's not an advertisement. Britney knows that but she wants to be a star.
WILDCAT: If you could perform any way you wanted to, what would a show be like?
MARSHALL: It would be in someone's backyard. I would be in a swing. Maybe there would be a pool, sipping margaritas in straw hats.
WILDCAT:There is all this naysaying about how unpredictable you are during performances, but when you come to Tucson, what can we expect?
MARSHALL: We have only practiced three times so far because I have been doing all this work for the record label. I feel like it is such a great opportunity, especially in other countries. People ask me, "So you must hate being American. Did you vote for George Bush?" I am like, "Of course I didn't." He didn't win the election. I love every state of America, but this pretense that it's united is ·
WILDCAT:What is at the top of your list of things that are wrong with America these days?
MARSHALL: (repeating the question and laughing) Uh, processed food, where the money goes, media.
WILDCAT: What do you want your audience to leave with after the show?
MARSHALL: To leave without tension and anxiety.
WILDCAT: You apologize a lot on stage, but what is one thing you will never ever apologize for?
MARSHALL: What I think or feel.
WILDCAT: What were you like as a child?
MARSHALL: Really happy and shy. I loved to eat and was always sneaking food at my grandma's. And I thought I could run faster than anybody in the world.
WILDCAT: Do you still think that?
MARSHALL: No. I figured that one out.
WILDCAT: If surgeons cut you open what would they find?
MARSHALL: I would want them to take out my brain, but they would probably find a lot of old bubblegum
WILDCAT: What don't you ever want to happen?
MARSHALL: The destruction of the universe.
WILDCAT: How has this album been different from others, and how has it been a success?
MARSHALL: I don't think any of our albums have been a success. It is different because they are all in different periods of my life. I feel like I have grown and learned.
WILDCAT: How does the writing process go for you?
MARSHALL: I go to the lab with a pad and pen. No ÷ I want to sound just like Eminem ÷ so I get my baseball hat and my Nike outfit. No ÷ I just have to want to do it. I get the typewriter, make coffee and get a couple cigarettes ready. I just fucking have to get something down · it's just exorcising internal thoughts. Asking questions, feeling answers and feeling thoughts, like taking time to think. I don't think there is a formula for that.
WILDCAT: Any aspect about yourself or career that you could put in a box and throw away the key?
MARSHALL: Being this product. There is this formula ÷ sound check at five, the club doesn't open ''til 4:30 · you get to this point where the only thing that is living is the music. It is the only point where all this stuff makes sense. The reality of the music becomes what it should be or what it is.
WILDCAT: What job could you never do?
MARSHALL: I could never be famous.