"Michaela and I wrote that song together about annoyingly shared experiences where people tend to assume that their opinion is not just welcome, but invited and needed" We chat with Mary Bragg
Back in the summer we had chance to speak to Georgia native Mary Bragg about her 2019 album, Violets As Camouflage, being inspired by art, and missing touring real bad.
Hey Mary, how’s your day going?
Going great! It was an early morning today; I’ve been working (writing) for a few hours.
So... where are you right now?
Outside on my deck, aka the “patioasis.”
Tell us a bit about you, what do you do for fun?
Run, read, swim, kayak, cook.
You released your album, Violets As Camouflage, in 2019, what’s the best thing that’s happened since then?
It’s been a wonderful year or so, and I’m so grateful. The best thing was probably getting to tour the UK and Ireland for the first time; I can’t wait to get back there - this time in 2021, opening for The Secret Sisters.
How do you look back on the record now?
I feel proud of it, inspired by how it came together in my home studio. I spent a couple hundred hours on producing and engineering it, and I’m glad I did.
One of my favourites on the record is ‘Faint Of Heart’, what can you tell me about that song?
'Faint of Heart' is a story about my upbringing in Swainsboro, Georgia, where my parents had a print shop for 25 years. I was always on my Mama’s hip in the first year of my life, thus, they call me the Print Shop Baby; my home studio is now named for it. The song is written from my mother’s perspective.
‘Runaway Town’ is another song I really like, what’s the story to that?
My friend Jesse Terry and I wrote that song in my backyard about having a place (for me, like Nashville) where community is found in the people you gravitate toward, who like you, might have a few wild ideas about how to make life meaningful.
If I only had three minutes, what song of yours should I listen to?
Maybe 'I Thought You Were Somebody Else', the first track from the record.
I believe your song ‘The Highest Tower’ was inspired by the Amber Smith book ‘The Way I Used To Be’, how much does other art inspire you?
Sometimes I consider the whole world a work of art, so, I’d say other art inspires me pretty constantly. I do read a lot, and I like to keep my journal handy when I’m reading and watching movies, because one person’s interpretation of the world often sparks something in me as a response.
What’s the process you go through to figure out what songs to record, and then what makes the final tracklist?
Phew, it’s definitely a process. I write a lot, and I also write a lot with other people, so in a two-year span I end up with about 100 songs to choose from for an album - inevitably a number of those won’t make sense for me as an artist, or for the particular album I’m working on at the time. I’m about midway through that process right now, looking for themes in the songs and ruminating on what kind of record I want to make next.
When are Reckless Electric making a comeback?
[laughs] Thanks -- Becky Warren and I both keep our solo careers as the priority, but I’m glad you enjoyed that record! I loved making it.
I usually ask, what have you got planned for the rest of 2020, but I’m not sure any of us know… so, what’s the thing you’re looking forward to doing most when things settle down?
Touring. I miss it so much - connecting with audiences, talking to them afterwards, looking them in the eyes and having our respective lenses of humanity collide. I love getting to see those parts of the world that are uniquely fascinating but also have so much in common with the places I already know. It’s a real gift, touring.
I saw your tweet responding to Michaela Anne’s tweet about the relevance of her song ‘If I Wanted You Opinion’. It’s really a pretty sad statement that it’s still a relevant song, isn’t it?
Totally, yes. Michaela and I wrote that song together about annoyingly shared experiences where people tend to assume that their opinion is not just welcome, but invited and needed. Our male musician friends don’t get nearly as much of the kind of commentary that we get, and certainly not as much about things like appearance, fashion, the frequency of putting on a smile, guitars.
What’s your experience of being treated differently as a woman in your industry? Have you noticed a difference at all in the last couple of years?
Um, how much time do you have? You know, for me it’s not as much an in-my-industry problem as it is an in-this-world problem. I believe we should all be treated equally, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc., and we should be able to exist and move through the world without being harassed, objectified, demeaned (imagine!). I honestly have to force myself to forget about it sometimes, forget about how bad it still is - just in order to be okay.
And yes, I’ve noticed it getting better in the last couple of years, as people become more aware of how awful it can be, the jerks on evident display more than ever before, and I, for one, am much more comfortable now calling someone out on their bullshit, whether it’s about me or someone else.
If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
These were all great questions. I’d add that you can stay connected to your favorite artists during this time by watching and sharing their online shows, buying merch from their websites, continuing to listen to their music, and when this is all over, buy those tickets again!
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
With one teaspoon of half and half, no sugar.