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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Jen Wasner discusses Flock of Dimes, Wye Oak, upcoming tour at 191 Toole


    (Courtesy Flock of Dimes) Jen Wasser, founding member of Wye Oak, will headline 191 Toole on Saturday as her stage name, Flock of Dimes.

    You may have heard of Wye Oak , a rock-duo formed by Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack. The band has released five acclaimed albums through Merge Records.

    Wasner released her first full-length solo album, though, as Flock of Dimes on Sept. 23. This week she kicks off her first headlining national tour in support of the album, If You See Me, Say Yes.

    This isn’t all that Wasner has been up to. Earlier this year she released the Reverend Jenn Wasner Signature JW-1. The signature guitar is a collaboration with artist April Camlin and Reverend Guitars.

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    The Flock of Dimes tour comes to Tucson at 191 Toole on Saturday night. The Daily Wildcat spoke with Wasner about her projects and the baggage that comes with being a musician in the public eye.

    The Daily Wildcat: Do you feel more creative freedom as Flock of Dimes than you do with Wye Oak?

    Jen Wasner: Not necessarily — in fact, working solo has made me really appreciate the value of collaboration. It’s so easy to glorify the idea of working totally solo — that is, until you’ve actually tried it. There were so many times in the course of making this record when I would have given anything to have someone to just tell me what to do.

    Both Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes projects are equally important to me, and they both serve different sides of my personality. But I’m very impatient and tire of things very quickly, so it’s essential that they are both as active and vital as possible. Being able to inhabit both keeps me from losing myself in either.

    The description on the Flock of Dimes Facebook says “vanity project of questionable skill and intent,” even though this is more than just a side project and you are quite accomplished. Do you ever feel Imposter syndrome when it comes to your work?

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    Ha, that’s just my dry sense of humor at work. I do tend to be pretty self-deprecating, but the reasons are a bit more complex. The best way that I can explain it is this — I believe I’m good at what I do, and I feel confident about my abilities.

    I believe that making art and sharing it and trying to be a force of good in the world is a worthwhile way to spend a life. But I don’t think that it’s more significant or worthy of praise than countless other vocations that are all so important and necessary. So I’m uncomfortable with the excessive praise that sometimes comes along with making music and performing.

    It’s very important for me to feel human, and to make other people around me feel comfortable, and occasionally, self-deprecation is the only way I feel like I can accomplish that. But I also believe in being confident and owning your shit, so it’s a bit of a tightrope walk between those two things.

    Is it nerve-wracking to kick off your first solo headline tour?

    Oh, absolutely. I feel a different kind of responsibility to everyone who’s working on this project with me — my label, my amazing band — and I really want things to go well, but there’s so much of it that’s outside of my control.

    This tour is, in many ways, the culmination of years of work, so I’m obviously invested in it emotionally and professionally, but I’m trying to remember to keep my zen-detachment in effect.

    Whatever happens, I am really at peace with the record itself — I know it’s my best work to date, and feeling this strongly about something I’ve made is worth a lot more to me than ticket sales. With that said, PLEASE come.

    Who are the band members touring with you, and how did you meet?

    My band, ah! They are so great. On guitar, keys and vocals, from Leeds, England — the great Katie Harkin. She plays with Sleater-Kinney and countless others, and is a total shredder and badass human being.

    On guitar, we have all-around super genius Aaron Roche, who is from New York City and is a magical unicorn.

    And on bass, hailing from North Carolina, my next door neighbor, dear friend and worst enemy William Joseph Hackney. They are all my friends. I have very talented friends.

    Does playing a signature guitar you designed make performing a better experience?

    Oh, I don’t know about that. I actually have some pretty complicated feelings about this particular issue, which I wrote about at length on my Medium page, if you’re so inclined.

    In short, I’ve never much been into the glorification of gear — these things are just tools, after all — what matters is what you do with them. But I do love the guitars Reverend makes, and it’s a great honor to be associated with them in such a way.

    Follow Nina Ulloa on Twitter

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