Cowgirl Clue Talks About Her Upcoming Album, Tour Plans, Video Work, and More
Ashley Calhoun of Cowgirl Clue has been busy lately, and we at WMF are among many that are taking note. She first came to our attention through a series of singles and the 2015 Limelite EP (under former moniker Wu-Wu), and we've been fans every since. We jumped at the opportunity to catch up with Cowgirl Clue while she was on a west coast tour, and were delighted to get first-hand info. on her upcoming album, tour plans, recording process, and more.
Bobby Weirdo: I wanted to ask about a couple people you follow on Twitter. The first is Howard Stern. Are you a Howard Stern fan?
Cowgirl Clue: I like Howard Stern; he gets down and dirty. I love listening to [the show], and as he gets older, I think his interviews get better. I found out about Howard Stern through his Lil' Kim interview that he did a long time ago. Who’s the other person?
BW: Dolly Parton.
CC: I’m from Austin, Texas, and Dolly is everywhere [there]. Dolly is an amazing country singer - she’s classic and has stuck to it, so it’s cool. And she posts funny, random stuff on Twitter, which I like.
BW: You mention Lil' Kim, who you’ve name-checked before as an influence, and you've also mentioned Deee-Lite, which isn’t that common of a reference.
CC: Yeah – Lil' Kim and Deee-Lite are definitely my top two influences. Lil' Kim is just amazing; she’s a Queen Bee. She’s one of the best female rappers of all time, and I hear Lil' Kim in almost everything by female - and even male - rappers nowadays.
Deee-Lite is my all-time top influence because they had a moment - and it was definitely abandoned – but they had such a pure esthetic. Everything they did was so inspiring to me: their music style, their fashion, the way they were political, and the different influences they brought into their music.
BW: Will “Confessions of a Genie” be included in your upcoming album, or is it a stand-alone single?
CC: It’s a stand-alone single. The new album is going to be way different than everything I’ve ever put out.
BW: That track is less jungle-influenced than some of your earlier songs, and has something closer to an R&B feel with a more laid-back vibe.
BW: Is that a new direction you’ll be taking on the album, or is the track more of an anomaly?
CC: It was a hats-off to all the R&B I’ve listened to in my life. When I was writing the song and had the chords, I felt it was really nostalgic R&B. I just went for it and did my own take on it. Who knows – it might be a turning point I don’t know about yet.
BW: As I understand it, you’ve got somewhere around nine or ten completed instrumentals for the upcoming album, including “Taxi Taxi” and “Disco Ball”.
CC: Yeah – those are temporary names. I’ll probably keep the name of “Taxi Taxi”. I have to add more lyrics, but I’ve still been performing it. I might change the lyrics to “Disco Ball”. I've just been winging it with lyrics I came up with on the spot because they sound nice, but it will probably have deeper content. The other one I’ve been playing on this tour is called “Accessory”, and that one is also one where I may or may not keep the vocals.
BW: On this new record, are you still using the Roland Juno and the MiniNova?
CC: Yeah, definitely. The Juno is becoming my best friend. It’s my main keyboard, and it’s super fun.
BW: Does the technology you use influence your composing? Do you compose with your gear in mind, knowing that those are the sounds you're going for, or do you just sit down at an instrument and let it take you to a place?
CC: I’ll sit down and will have an idea for a mood, or something I’m trying to match. I’ll have a jungle beat and will play some keyboard on it, but usually don’t have anything in mind. A lot of times I’ll try to find a new sound, or something that’s kind of familiar, but not the same sounds every time.
BW: There’s the genie motif throughout your work. Is there a meaning or background to your idea of the genie?
CC: It happened a long time ago, because my old DJ name was DJ Genie Factory. The idea of the genie was that I would come into the room, and the smoke would come out of the bottle into the room both technically and metaphorically, creating the vibe of the room with sound. So, smoke and sound are similar, and that’s why I go with that metaphor. It’s fun.
BW: You’ve mentioned that when you were DJing as DJ Genie Factory, you were specifically trying to discover new music. Was there something particular like a genre, vibe, or certain records that you discovered?
CC: I was constantly looking for new music that no one had ever heard, or a song that everyone had heard, but not the remix of. It was really fun discovering that, and then at the same time discovering my own style of production, which I’m still discovering.
BW: Do the extended mixes that you’ve done as a DJ influence how you write music as Cowgirl Clue and vice versa, or are they two distinct processes?
CC: I think they influence each other. It influences my live show, because I play a long mix when I perform live, and that’s something I’ve already DJ’d. I always want to incorporate a DJ into my live set, whether it’s myself or someone else.
BW: You looped the intro to Armando Manzanero’s “No” for your “Heal”. Was there a meaning behind choosing that particular piece of music?
CC: I thought it was simple and heartwarming, and it just stood out emotionally. Having it on a loop was healing – getting your mind into more of a trance.
CC: It’s a little bit of both. I directed my “Confessions of a Genie” video, I’ve done some work with Enjoy, and a little bit with The Garden. I did some video stuff in high school, and I think as a collective in Vada Vada we find each other’s strong points, and make it work with the resources we have.
A lot of times with Enjoy, Wyatt will have an idea, we’ll just bounce off each other, and I’ll film it. Wyatt filmed “Cherry Jubilee” in White Sands. I had a basic idea, both of us worked on it, and it just came together nicely.
BW: You’re on a west coast tour right now. What does the rest of 2018 and 2019 hold in store for Cowgirl Clue?
CC: Hopefully an album release, and also a lot more dates in the spring. Those will be announced at the end of this month, and there’s a ton of them in the U.S. Hopefully some other countries, but for right now it will in a bunch of cities and states I’ve never played before, so it’ll be fun.