Margaret Glaspy has emerged as a force to be reckoned with this year. With the release of her debut full length, Emotions and Math – where garage rock guitars blend with lyrics both reflective and plithy, her voice harking back to the greats – and followed by relentless touring, State’s Aaron Hamilton was able to catch up with her as she prepares to play the Grand Social in Dublin. Covering Glaspy’s guitar-filled childhood home to Swedish extreme metal and back again, it was a pleasure speaking with her.
Hey Margaret. Congratulations on the release of the album. How have things been since it came out?
It’s been really fun. I’ve just been touring like crazy. It feels like a victory to have made it, to be honest. I’m feeling good.
You grew up in California and now live in New York, right? How important was that move to you and to your creative process?
I’ve lived in New York for about six years and I lived in Boston before that for about three, so its been almost 10 years since I lived in California. Yeah it was, being on the east coast has pushed me a lot. It’s been an experience meeting a lot of different people and musicians, and kind of raising the bar for my own musical standards, things like that. So it’s been huge.
You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that you had a very musical childhood in California. Does that still impact on how you write your music?
Yeah, there were guitars all over the house when I was young, so it felt natural to play music all the time. I felt really supported by my family. Everybody was like, well, if you’re going to do that you’re going to do that, it’s what you’ve got to do! There wasn’t really any question about it which was cool. So yeah, my brother, my dad, my sister and my mom would all play guitar too, so I wasn’t unique in my family in that. I think it made it nicer, you could just come home and play music. I know now that that’s not super normal and I’m lucky to have had it with mine.
If your family were inspiring you to make music when you were growing up, who inspires you to do so now?
Elliott Smith is a big inspiration for me. I mean, just being a young person in 2016, that’s a big thing for me too. There are lots of things that are important to me. Just being a contributing artist with a voice nowadays, it feels really good. It’s inspiring just putting something forward into the world. Joni Mitchell has always been a huge inspiration. I’m just picking up influences everywhere I go at the moment. I just saw a Meshuggah concert, I don’t know if you know Meshuggah?
They play here in January, I already have my ticket.
I just saw them in Belgium, it was just insane, it was amazing. They were playing the same complex as us. Very inspiring – I’m wearing their t shirt right now! Just being on the road and running into lots of different bands. There was this other band that discovered in Iceland called Mammút, they’re really incredible too. Kind of like Icelandic goth rock. I really liked them a lot.
You mentioned Joni Mitchell – it’s a comparison I’ve heard used before, specifically the album Blue. It’s a very confessional, honest album – how do you feel when its compared to Emotions and Math?
Its probably different. In terms of her songwriting, I really look up to her – just how good it is, how much I’m moved by it. But in terms of my record and hers, they are very different. I think there’s really no comparison, she’s a god, you know? In terms of the style of the records, my songs are really short and very distilled, kind of to-the-point and boiled down to their very fundamental parts. I think it’s made for a record that instrumentally has a lot of space but in other ways it doesn’t. I think Joni’s stuff breathes a little bit more than mine does. I adore her so much, but no way.
Did you learn over time to refine your songs like that? I know some of the songs on Emotions and Math have been taken from previous EPs.
I think it’s just my preference to have them short and boiled down. I don’t know why I like it that way. I just feel like I’ve come into my style as a songwriter.
You’re playing quite a few shows while you’re here in Ireland, starting at the Grand Social in Dublin. Are you excited to be touring?
I was actually playing at Electric Picnic in September, that was my first time coming to Ireland, so this is my second time and I’m super excited.
Thanks Margaret, and good luck for the rest of the tour.
Margaret Glaspy plays Dublin’s Grand Social tonight, and Other Voices this weekend. Tickets for the shows are available here.