An Interview with Tristan Prettyman and a Review of Her CD “Hello”
“Hello”, the follow-up Virgin CD to singer/songwriter and surfer gal Tristan Prettyman’s critically acclaimed debut release, “Twenty-three”, goes down like a tall, cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer day.
Recorded in a just a few weeks in London with British producers and songwriters Martin Terefe (KT Tunstall, Ron Sexsmith) and Sacha Skarbek KT Tunstall, James Blunt), Prettyman shows a new maturity and her smoky, velvet alto voice has never sounded better.
Critics have compared her to artists as diverse as Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones and Fiona Apple, but Prettyman truly is in a unique class of her own that defies comparison.
The more one listens, the more Prettyman’s tone and style resonates and requires getting much better acquainted with this talented chanteuse. Due to her extensive touring schedule over three years promoting “Twenty-three”, Prettyman was able to record the bulk of the new album live with few overdubs, giving it an intimate, warm, organic feel, using pedal steel, Hammond organ and strings.
Prettyman recently broke off a two-year relationship with “her first true love” and songs like the driving “Echo”, poignant “Blindfold” and plaintive “War Out Of Peace” reflect the changes she has gone through. But the record is far from downbeat, with playful, sexy tunes like the title track, “You Got Me”, "Handshake" and “Just a Little Bit” showing several other dimensions of this up-and-coming artist. “Madly”, arguably the most commercial and accessible song on the record, co-written with Kevin Griffin from Better Than Ezra was a well thought out choice for the first single. She recently performed “Madly” on Jay Leno and was extremely well received. The tone of the CD has a bluesy quality that suits Prettyman’s style to the letter.
The final track, “In Bloom” is haunting with an effective use of just piano and strings that suits Prettyman’s subdued yet emotional delivery. Themes of heartbreak, love and the thrill of the chase permeate this superb effort that grows on you after repeated listening.
Here’s what our surfer gal had to say from the road:
Kimberlye Gold: How did you get your record deal with Virgin? Did other labels court you?
Tristan Prettyman: When I got with my new manager, he hooked it all up. We had some showcases in New York. I liked the vibe I got with the A&R from Virgin, so I said what the heck!
KG: What was growing up in San Diego like?
TP: It was surfy and sunny.
KG: When did you start playing live, writing songs, etc.?
TP: I taught myself how to play guitar on and off from age 15 – 20. I was probably 20 when I started playing shows. I’ve always been a writer, journals for days even when I was little kid.
KG: What do you feel are the differences between “Hello” and “Twenty-Three”?
TP: "Twenty-three" was written from a compilation of life experiences...and "Hello" is more specific to times, places and people.
KG: Have you grown as an artist and a woman?
TP: I have grown immensely but some days I don’t know, I still have a lot of growing to do, I hope I never stop. People that haven't seen me
for a while say I have turned into a woman. That’s pretty cool. I definitely feel like I can hang at the grown up table.
KG: What has touring so much been like for you?
TP: Exhausting and fun...
KG: How were you received in Japan?
TP: The first time the audience was very shy and reserved but after 13 times they have really warmed up to me! It’s like a second home.
KG: What are the pros and cons?
TP: Traveling can take a lot out of you, but there is nothing like a sold out show when the crowd is singing your songs back to you.
KG: Who would you consider your main influences to be growing up and now?
TP: There is no one main influence. I’ve always looked up to my parents though. They have been big supporters and the two people I can always go to for advice or an honest opinion.
KG: Many of your songs feel like a stream of consciousness. “Madly” is the most commercial with very definite verses, chorus, bridge, etc. Did you deliberately choose that as the first single?
TP: The label made the choice. I co-wrote that song with Kevin Griffin from Better than Ezra. It was definitely a more thought out effort than some of the other songs I wrote, but it was never like we sat down and said, ok we are writing the hit, the single. Kevin has a way to make songs catchy. He's good with hooks and arrangements where as I have a lot of good ideas that I need help organizing.
KG: What is the next single going to be?
TP: No idea! Maybe “Hello”. I’m sure the label would like "War out of Peace", that’s definitely pop radio. I like all the songs though and they are fun to play, so I’m cool with whatever.
KG: What do you feel are your main themes on this record?
TP: It’s the game of the chase. I always learn something after the songs are written.
KG: Are all your songs autobiographical?
TP: Pretty much. The guy I wrote “Don’t Work Yourself Up” about doesn’t even speak to me anymore, unfortunately. But I made sure to add happy, fun songs as well as the dark ones. Each song tells a story about something that I’ve gone through.
KG: How did you like recording in London?
TP: Working with Martin and Sasha was amazing. We pretty much recorded everything together and left it all together with musicians that were all friends of theirs.
KG: Talk about the Beach Clean-up project.
TP: It’s pretty much the most awesome thing I have been apart of. So many people come out and we pick up so much trash, keep the beaches clean, and then we all celebrate and eat good food, drink good (Barefoot) wine and are merry. Over all it’s just a positive event that brings the community together. It helps to keep some of our most beautiful waterways, and beaches Barefoot friendly.
KG: What’s next for the future?
TP: Touring with G. Love and Special Sauce and John Butler Trio.
KG: Where do you see yourself heading?
TP: I am not really sure, but my motto is: coming, going, always learning.
Thanks, Tristan – we look forward to hearing a lot more from you for a long time to come!###