Ana Egge
Ana Egge
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Maïa Davies: ‘Takes A Woman Like You’, Vol. 9: Ana Egge

By Maïa Davies on Aug 01, 2013

Maïa Davies of Ladies of the Canyon is back with ‘Takes A Woman Like You,’ a new feature blog at Music Canada that brings a twist to the traditional music interview. This summer, Maïa will pick the brains of smart, strange, and relevant women working as part of the Canadian music industry. In her seventh update, Maïa speaks with Ana Egge:

The first time I heard Ana Egge’s music, she had until that moment been unknown to me. I was on a wintery Ontario tour, checking in to another strange hotel. We laid our bags down and my tour mate pulled up Ana’s video for “Morning” on my laptop. Within 15 seconds, I was in tears, flooded by the raw emotion and stunning beautiful quality of her voice and songs. I later had the honour of playing a few shows opening for her in Toronto and New York City, watching her badass band (featuring fellow Canadian Peter Elkas on guitar) tear through her haunting, powerful songs. Raised in North Dakota and Saskatchewan, now living in Brooklyn, Egge is a somewhat best-kept secret of the music scene. Ron Sexsmith is her biggest fan. So is Steve Earle, and he produced her last record, entitled “Bad Blood”. Do yourself a favor and discover her, if you haven’t already. I am fortunate enough to call her a friend, and an inspiration. Here is a conversation I had with her a few weeks ago.

I’ve heard you like to read a lot. What inspirations or life lessons can you tell us about that you’ve pulled directly from your literary adventures lately?

Lately… let’s see.. I just got my first book on Audible for my last flight home from touring in Alberta. That’s been a new experience to listen to a book, on my phone. It’s the new novel by one of my favorite authors, Louise Erdrich. She mostly centers her stories around people of the Ojibwe nation. Weaving in the spirituality, politics and humor of Native American life in the past and present in such an earth bound yet ever uplifting way. And the land that she inherits and evokes is that of the plains of North Dakota and Minnesota which is where I spent most of my childhood.

You’re on the road quite a bit and have made some great musical friends along the way from what I can gather. What is your favourite thing about being a part of such a nomadic musical community, how has it enriched your life experience?Any specific meetings you can recall that have changed you?

My big dreams as a young picker were to meet my heroes and heroines. It’s such a beautiful and rare thing to be so moved by the work of an artist or musician. And to meet them and collaborate is just mind blowing. Yesterday I got 4 copies of my debut, self titled cassette (1994) in the mail from a store that just went out of business in Texas. I remember sending that tape off to Iris Dement and then getting a call from her to tour together. I gave that tape at least 3 times to Shawn Colvin and then when my first full length CD ‘River Under The Road’ came out in 1997 she called me at work and asked if I wanted to open some shows for her. Crazy town.

What differences, if any, have you observed in the way women and men approach songwriting? Do you believe their perspectives are different, or inherently linked?

No I haven’t really noticed any difference between the sexes. To me there are two very important things that go into songwriting, craft and inspiration. One who is continually in touch with who they are and what moves them and works to explore expressing that is an individual artist. They have a unique voice and open themselves up to that kind of personal inspiration. This takes as much practice and ‘showing up’ as learning the craft of how a song works, architecturally speaking.

What are your favourite moments like onstage, what is happening that gives you those magical moments while performing?

1. Feeling energy pour through me, smiling.
2. Connecting on another level with the band when everything just feels so connected and right.
3. When I hear someone in the audience whoop or holler!!!

What advice would you offer to other artists on searching for success?

First, we all can get to know our personal definition of success. I vacillate between feeling like the luckiest person alive to pouting and wishing that I could just get a break. My hope is to keep reaching more and more people through music. It’s the most fun, healing and positive way to communicate and I’m completely in love with the mysterious pioneering spirit that it set up inside me.