Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Interview: Juliana Hatfield

Juliana Hatfield began her career in alternative rock 20 years ago right here in Boston, and has been "shining on" ever since. Her 1994 hit "Spin the Bottle" was featured on the Reality Bites soundtrack and propelled her to mainstream fame, but she soon retreated from the hard glare of the spotlight. Hatfield has stayed busy since then, steadily putting out albums and EPs. With a new album, tour and memoir, When I Grow Up: A Memoir, coming out, the underrated star was kind enough to answer some questions about her plans, her blog, and how (little) she'll miss Manny. Haha.

- Jessy Bartlett

JB: You have a lot going on with the release of the new album, the tour, and your book that comes out in September. How is this album release different from past ones for you?

JH: I feel like more is at stake. I put everything I had into this record and book. I feel like it's a sort of make or break moment for me.

JB: You've been making music for 20 years now, through the ups and downs. Has it gotten easier? Are you feeling more at peace as you get older?

JH: It's easier to sing and play- I've gotten better at what I do. And I do feel less miserable now than ever before, yes.

JB: You've been out of the mainstream spotlight for a while. Is that partly your own doing? Are you glad that your fan base is smaller but more devoted these days?

JH: I definitely had a hand in pulling myself away from the spotlight. It was hard for me to deal with all the criticism and questions that were always being thrown at me. I didn't really have the tools I needed to navigate through all that stuff, at the time. It's comforting to know that my fans are loyal. They have stuck with me through my commercial invisibility and so I know that their appreciation isn't fickle.

JB: If you could go back in time with what you know now and communicate with your '90s self, what advice would you give you?

JH: I would ask myself, "Why do you care so much what people think of you?"

JB: I read that you haven't been listening to music lately but are more into books. What have you been reading? I just read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers and it reminded me of your blog.

JH: Books I have most recently read: Black Flies by Shannon Burke, As I Lay Dying by Wm. Faulkner, I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, The Heresy Of Self-Love by Paul Zweig.

JB: Speaking of your blog, it's really a treat for fans. How did you decide to start that up?

JH: The idea just popped into my head one day. I thought it would be a good writing exercise for me and also I wanted to correct any misperceptions and misinterpretations that random people might have/have had about me and my songs. And now it has become sort of rewarding: I enjoy giving this thing to the people that are interested in my music. They seem to really like the fact that I am doing it.

JB: How important is it for you to get How to Walk Away out there to reach as many people as possible, and what are your hopes for this record?

JH: Of course I would love for lots of people to love the album and to listen to it and to buy it but I don't really have any concrete expectations. I mean, my expectations are realistic.

JB: Lastly, the trading deadline has passed and it looks like Manny is staying with the Sox. Thoughts? (***Editor's Note: The Manny trade story broke about an hour after the deadline, after this question was asked.)

JH: Manny is gone and I'm glad. He was acting like a jerk.

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