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A "Rendez-vous" with Vonda Shepard

A soulful, passionate musician who deftly blends soaring vocals with formidable piano skills, Vonda Shepard hasspent the last two years writing and recording her ninthsolo album titled Red Light, Green Light,” a stunning blend of songs produced by her husband Mitchell Froom (Elvis Costello, Crowded House, Fleetwood Mac). “The album was written and recorded during the height of the pandemic,”Vonda reveals. “It took a massive amount of discipline to go through this process, but the isolation actually lent itself to going deep into the writing

First of all, hello and Thank you for giving me your time, which I imagine is precious. It's a real pleasure to meet you and to do this interview.

Thank you… very kind of you! What does Paris mean to you?

Wow, that is such deep question for me. I studied french for 3 years at school, beginning when I was 12 or so, and my amazing teacher spoke so eloquently about Paris, describing the croissants and the café au lait, the gorgeous architecture and the magnificent museums, I HAD to go. And I DID go when I was 15 with my best friend, for several weeks ! Her father had an apartment there ! Paris will always be a magical city for me… someday I’d love to spend 6 months and really get lost in the city. Your career started with a first eponymous album in 1989 in a pop universe. What do you remember about this first album? I remember that after 4 years of artist development with Warner Brothers, I finally got signed at 24, and I called my dad from a restaurant payphone, beyond thrilled ! I was lucky enough to work with several amazing producers, including James Newton Howard, Art Munson, etc. I remember feeling safe and like I was floating in this zone of music and support, acknowledgement that I had finally broken through. The studio experiences were so gratifying.

Then "Radical Light" with a bit more folk sounds, and "It's good Eve" where the piano takes more and more place. Listening to it I had the impression that this album was a new starting point. Is this the case? Yes, Eve was definitely a new starting place. You have good ears! I had gotten dropped from Warner Bros. and no one was interfering with my vision/sound. I was able to have utter and complete integrity on this album. I also was going through so much, emotionally, which I think really comes through. It was a tough time, but I channeled my pain into the music — but not just the pain — also the way I see life. The beauty in simple things, nature, love. Ally Mc Beal: appearances in the series and the accompanying soundtrack. An unexpected exposure? A real turning point in your career. After all these years, is it sometimes complicated to still have this "label" Ally Mc Beal ? An absolutely unexpected turning point and complete shift in my life. I am forever grateful to have had that incredible experience, but yes, it is still complicated to be so associated with the show. That being said, many of my fans have stuck with me through the new albums, and I love and appreciate that.

After 3 albums around the series, was it complicated to release "Chinatown"? Were you afraid of how it would be received by your audience? I actually was so excited to be back to doing my own music, that I wasn’t concerned at all (naively!!) But people seemed to embrace Chinatown, as long as I gave them the Ally hits at the end of the show. Then followed "From the sun", "Solo" (piano voice) was it a form of ‘mise à nue’? "exposure" for you? I’m not sure I understand the question, but with From The Sun, I had felt a great need for new material, so had to dig deep. This album has a more soulful tone to it, with the stacked background vocals that I do by myself and love to do. I resolved some past issues in the songs I Know Better and Roll in the Dirt. It felt good to get those out of my system !

Your last album is still partly autobiographical, the love of a mother, love at all, and also about putting things into perspective and seeing that life is beautiful despite the complicated periods we have gone through. "A paradise" is a song that wasn't necessarily meant to be a song on the album, right? (Voice recorded with an iphone) (clic on this photo to listen the new album)

Yes, this album exposes those incredible feelings of being a mother, as well as the turmoils of the pandemic, but also, finding the beauty in it all. I often go to the sea in my songs to find and bring in peace and simple beauty. We shot the video of Disappear on the beach in Malibu… it was the perfect setting. A Paradise is just sort of an escapism, party song. Wanting to cut loose and be free again. We recorded my guitar player and bass player and me playing tambourine at soundcheck, which we compressed and used on the album, along with real drums, more guitars, etc., but my vocals were not on the iPhone. The guys have song-writing credit on this, as they started the jam ! How do you approach the stage? I treat the stage like it’s my living room and I have lots of friends over to hang out ! I really try to relax and get lost in the song. I’ve learned that the audience can really feel when I’m present and into it. I grew up in a performing, artistic family, so I understand showman-ship, and I can do that, but I need to be authentic. Do you have the same relationship with the audience in each country? There is a thread that runs through all countries and all shows, but the feeling and outward experience varies in different countries. In Japan, people are very quiet, but they’re really listening, and tell me they loved the show. In France, people are more outwardly expressive in giving me back to love and emotion I’m pouring in their direction… and I love it ! I can’t wait to come back !

Thank you for your time.

Mon plaisir !! My pleasure, Merci beaucoup à vous.

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