Grapevine interviews can sometime take place in person but more often than not are conducted on the phone. In the case of Vonda Shepard we used Skype. An automatic software upgrade just before our call to Vonda led to a very one sided conversation until we realised that the upgrade had changed our default microphone! Our thanks to Ms. Shepard for hanging in there while we sorted the tech side of things.
We have to start with Ally McBeal I’m afraid, you must be fed up with people talking to you about that show!
You know, it is such a huge part of my history, I completely accept it. I was so fortunate to get that job, it opened doors for me all over the world. I do a lot of my own songs in the show but I do throw in the Ally McBeal tunes, the favourites, because people really want to hear them and I am not going to deny them that pleasure.
Now the serious stuff, you see I have never interviewed a tomato farmer before.
Laughs! Oh you read that – that is hilarious!
What is the secret to growing a good toMAto, or should I sat tomAto?
Well, I’ll say tomAto… Yes, I went to this special place called ‘tomato mania’ where you buy the seedlings of heirloom tomatos. I actually bought twelve this year so my entire house is surround by tomato plants. I came off a vactaion, ‘d been gone two weeks and the tomatoes had just gone crazy and I made the most incredible sauce and my sons friends call me the ‘tomato farmer’.
Back to music then, can you describe the Vonda Shepard sound – in case there are people out there who have not heard it yet?
I would say that I lean in a soulful direction vocally with a real singer-songwriter, maybe even 70s style piano technique and choices. Sort of maybe Elton John, Aretha Franklin… Carole King, those are my influences, and Stevie Wonder and definetly it is like a fusion of the singer-songwriter piano player and… soulful music.
And who will you be touring the UK with this time?
Last year we toured with the trio which was guitar bass and me on piano. It was great, and we really get a big sound with the trio. This year we are playing slightly bigger places and we just felt like… the new album, Rockie, lends itself to having a drummer.
Do you prefer touring or recording?
They are so different. They are 100% different to me, they are like a different world. I really can’t say which I prefer. Recording is just this phenomenon where you are watching and helping the music to unfold and I work with Mitchel Froom, who is a genius, so that’s exciting on a daily basis being in the studio making a record with him and seeing it develop, its actually much easier to be in the studio than being on the road. The road is incredibly exciting and gratifying because you get the feedback from the audience and you get to travel to new cities and walk around small towns and observe.
You mean to say you actually get time to look around?
Well, from the van! In truth, on a show day, we really don’t see much but occassionally on a day off we can wander around. I love to just wander alone in a city and find little shops and cafés and to write in my journal. It is just one of the best parts of my life.
In which case you are going to love Bury St Edmunds, home to The Apex. I recommend you go down to Abbeygate Gardens and go feed the squirrels.
I will, I will!
Tickets are selling fast, you are very popular here in the UK. Any particular reason you can think of for that?
The show ‘Ally’ was a hugh hit there, it was as big there as anywhere. We had number one records there so I’m sure that is the main reason.
So we need to encourage fans to buy their tickets now if they have not done so already.
Yes, some of the shows have sold out, it is getting tight in some of the shows.
The album ‘Its Goof Eve’ is available on vinyl, will you have vinyl copies in the UK with you?
I will. Actually they are being printed right now in England, they should be finished in two weeks. I’m going to just pick them up and I’ll be signing after the shows, every single show. Yes, and I also have ‘Rookie’ on vinyl and I’ll bring a lot of the older CDs as well. It is really fun sitting out there meeting people after the shows. I find it kinda relaxing (laughs).
One last question if I may. I’m not going to ask if you have a favourite song – that’s like asking which of your children you prefer! When it comes to performing live, is there any song that is difficult to perform?
Oh many, so many! Depending on how good my voice is that week or that month or whatever, one of the best songs I play live and I love to play is ‘Sweet Inspiration’ but it is also one of the hardest songs. Unless I completely dive into it 100% and I am very strong, it’s a tough one but I work very hard to get ready for a tour and to be in full voice. I is a challenge but it is the highlight of the show basically in some ways.
Thank you Vonda for putting up with our technical difficulties while we tried to connect and for taking the time to talk to us at GrapevineLIVE.co.uk we look forward to catching up with you on 13th October at The Apex in Bury St.Edmunds.
To purchase tickets to Vonda Shepard’s show in Bury St Edmunds click here
To check out the full UK tour click here.