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Coral Egan: In the Key of C

By Published: March 8, 2007

AAJ: Like yourself, I love Stevie Wonder, but have always felt that some of the endings in his songs go on way too long because I suspect he was surrounded by "yes people who didn't have either the confidence or courage to go up to him and say, "Stevie: this eight-minute song should be cut down to four minutes. Who is that one person(s) in your inner circle that can come up to you and say, "Coral, get rid of this change, this modulation, it's not working ?

CE: That would be my producer, Charles Papasoff, whose musical instinct I trust implicitly, mostly because he knows me so well. Among Charles' many gifts, one is his natural humility which allows him to serve the music. But I definitely welcome input from the musicians and I try to give them the freedom to create.

AAJ: You strike me as a person who is on a very even keel, well-grounded, socially well-adjusted, philosophically ahead of your years. Am I off the mark as usual, or are you someone who hasn't had to mess up in life in order to create?

CE: I have had my fair share of painful experiences, especially during my creative periods. When I was younger, I needed to be sad to write where the writing became part of a cathartic process. But after MFD, which brought me two years of touring, I felt blessed for this small but significant success. And now, with the drive and energy that comes with playing live with a band, I write more out of joy and gratitude which translates into more energetic music

AAJ: I learned recently that Pat Metheny has never touched drugs or alcohol, a decision I'm sure he hasn't regretted, especially if he has seen the documentary Let's Get Lost, about the life and pathetic death of Chet Baker. Have drugs or alcohol ever been a part of your music equation? If yes, how have they abetted the creative process, if not, why not?

CE: Geez, I'm gonna get in trouble for this one. Yes, I have used drugs to further my creativity, especially hashish during the writing process. For my last album, I relied on my dear friend Jameison [Irish Whiskey] to keep the nerves down while I sang the vocal tracks. But now that I'm pregnant, I have been blissfully forced to abstain from using any of the above during the recording of this album—and sobriety is suiting me just fine.

AAJ: Talk to us about the turning points or crises in your life and how they may have informed your music.

CE: Do we really want to go there? [laughs] Seriously, I consider myself an exceedingly lucky person and no longer relate to my misfortunes as a motor for my creativity.

AAJ: Who has been the most influential music person in your life and why?

CE: That would have to be my mother, Karen Young, who has been recording and performing music for over twenty years. From my earliest memories, she offered the greatest of musical educations, introducing me to many genres of music without ever imposing her own views so I could decide on my own what music I liked best. Then, to encourage my development, she asked me to sing back up vocals for her which I did for a couple of years

It was her belief in my talent gave me the confidence to be authentic and take over some of the gigs she didn't have time to do herself. And because her appreciation of what I do is only slightly biased, I am able to trust what she likes and where I am going. Bless her.

AAJ: What are the pluses and minuses of having a fairly well known musical mother as an influence? Was there ever a time when the shadow she cast intimidated you and, if yes, what did you have to do to become you? Did you have to go through a rebellious phase? Did you ever harbor matricidal thoughts? Were you forced to take up a musical instrument as a child?

CE: To the contrary. My mother was the most generous of artists where I was concerned and she enjoyed sharing the glow, and made sure that my desire to make music my life wasn't tainted by any confused mother-daughter bond. And she has never begrudged my desire to fly onward and become my own artist/person.

AAJ: In the '60s and '70s, people were listening to the Beatles, Moody Blues, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder etc., music that featured lots of changes and modulations. By contrast, much of today's music is monophonic or mono-tonal, which does not prepare the listener to internalize complex music, which your music is. Does it frustrate knowing that there might have been a much larger audience for your music in your mother's day? Do you think young people's ears are being poorly served by the music that is available to them?

CE: It's like complaining about the weather. What's the point when you can do nothing about it? I can't allow my music, my creative impulses to be held hostage by the listener. I do what I do because I have to do it and I hope there are people out there who can appreciate it.

AAJ: Why do you think young people are attracted to music that doesn't modulate?

CE: Indoctrination, my friend. We can get used to anything.

AAJ: Would you say Europeans are more receptive to your music?

CE: That seems to be the case. In fact I'm working with Gina Vodegel, from Belgium, who is trying to help me get out there and find my European demographic. She's been a great help, having managed my myspace page. Her motivation has been spurred mostly by her true love of music. I can't thank her enough.

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