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Coral Egan: In the Key of C

By Published: March 8, 2007

AAJ: I notice you're not doing covers anymore?

CE: That's true. At some point I decided that when it comes to the standards, or anything for that matter, if I can't add something that's truly original or thought-provoking, I'm not going to do it. I don't want to become part of that recyclying that's going on ad nauseam.

AAJ: You must be referring to Rod Stewart, whose versions of the standards make me long for the days when the vomitorium was just around the corner.

CE: I actually like some of Rod's original music, but his take on the standards—and he's not alone out there—well, has added very little to what we already know about them.

AAJ: But in his defense, couldn't it be argued that at least for listeners who are not familiar with the standards, he's providing a portal, a point of entry to music which they would otherwise never listen to?

CE: Absolutely, and hopefully some of these listeners just won't stop at Rod's place, but will develop a curiosity to explore other versions and discover (diss-cover) why this music is immortal.

AAJ: Who among your contemporaries are making you listen to the standards?

CE: Cassandra Wilson, for one. Brad Mehldau is another. Cassandra owns whatever she does, and I like the idea that she doesn't restrict herself to any particular genre.

AAJ: Marketing people love categories, and of course your music is refreshingly all over the place? Does this cause problems?

CE: It has to a small extent, which can cause bigger problems. But I've been very fortunate in my collaboration with my label, Justin Time, who despite that fact that I'm not an established player, has given me virtually carte blanche in respect to my repertoire and what happens in the studio. But at the same time, I realize that I've sort of been in my own creative bubble and haven't devoted enough time and energy to marketing my product, that is getting together a competent team to spread the word around about my music—both here and abroad. Once I'm finished up in the studio, I'm going to finally get more involved in the promotional aspect.

AAJ: Are you suggesting that Justin Time isn't as involved in the marketing aspect as they should be?

CE: I think that it takes more than a willing label to make it happen nowadays.

AAJ: What music are you listening to now?

CE: I've been taking solace in classical music of late. I want to give my baby a chance to hear something else besides the one album I've been working on. Poor girl . . .

AAJ: What music were you listening to ten years ago that you're still listening to?

CE: I'm forever in love with soul music of the '70s, Brazilian from the '60s and '70s, but I'm long over due to get back on the current wave and learn a little about what's musically happening today: I'm shamefully out of the loop.

AAJ: Why does some music endure?

CE: I think even timeless music is in the eye of the beholder, but for music to endure, at least for me, it's because something extraordinary has been captured, or the overwhelming talent of the artist has surpassed my expectation, and of course it ends up being music from which I never tire.

AAJ: What music do you hate?

CE: Saccharine music, whatever the genre.

AAJ: What do you dislike most about the music life?

CE: Moments of doubt.

AAJ: Do you prefer performing live or creating in the studio?

CE: I don't think I have a preference. I absolutely love both! They each have their moment, but it's great to be able to go back and forth and keep things fresh.

Coral Egan AAJ: What are your thoughts on all this illegal downloading from the Internet?

CE: Well, how to fight the inevitable? I think people will always learn how to profit from the next innovation. Oh, and long live the grass roots!

AAJ: What else do you like to do in life besides making music?

CE: Up until this year, I have been an avid volleyball player, practically an addict. But now I think "mom will suffice.

AAJ: Do you have a favorite novelist?

CE: No favorites, I tend to bounce around a lot between classics of Thomas Hardy and whatever people throw my way.

AAJ: If music weren't your life, what would your second career choice have been?

CE: I think if I had had the necessary discipline, I would have loved to apply myself to some kind of alternative medicine; I've always enjoyed giving massage.

AAJ: No interview would be complete without the desert island question. So there you are, alone for life on a desert island, with a hundred minutes of your all-time favorite musical distractions. And the winners are?

CE: A hundred minutes? That's not enough! João Gilberto live, Jeff Buckley, the music box song of Aphex Twin, some Palestrina music, "I Can't Write Left Handed, by Bill Withers. A Joni [Mitchell] tune or two. Can there be a piano on the island?

Selected Discography

Robert Michaels, Robert Michaels (WEA, 2005)
Coral Egan, My Favorite Distraction (Justin Time, 2004)
Coral Egan, The Path of Least Resistance (Justin Time, 2003)
Charles Papasoff, Catharsis 2 (Nisapa, 2001)

Photo Credit
Marcel Dubois

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