Rising artist Angelica Garcia blends country, blues and rock


Angelica Garcia
Angelica Garcia (Angelica Randle / Courtesy of the artist)
Interview: Angelica Garcia
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Rising singer-songwriter Angelica Garcia — who has named Willie Nelson, Neil Young and Jack White her "personal holy trinity" — joined New Hot host David Safar over the phone for a conversation about her debut album Medicine for Birds, what it was like working with the Civil Wars' former producer Charlie Peacock and the meaning behind her captivating single "Orange Flower."

David Safar: Your music blends the sounds of country, blues and rock music. What first inspired you pick up a guitar and start writing songs?

Angelica Garcia: In high school I had a very big Neil Young moment. I accredit that to my stepdad. He was the first person to show me songwriters and give me my love for lyrics and that kind of genre. I was listening to a lot of Neil Young one day and I came home from school and I thought to myself like, "Hey, I would really like to learn how to play this song," and I taught myself "Heart of Gold" right there. I guess that's where everything started, listening to other songwriters that I loved and trying to embody that.

What was is about Neil Young that spoke to you?

The thing about Neil was that I just felt that it was so raw and honest and I connected to it a lot in high school, during a time that's sort of strange and awkward and you're trying to place and word your own feelings. Neil just spoke to me on the most meaningful, honest level.

What was the realization when your new album, Medicine for Birds, was finally finished and you first got a copy and it was in your hands? What were the thoughts that went through your head?

[laughs] Disbelief and total joy. There was definitely this crazy sense of accomplishment but also this sense of, "Wow, I want this to be the first step. I want to keep going for as long as I can." But it is totally surreal to be able to hold your record and know that somebody somewhere else could be doing the exact same thing as you at that moment.

Tell us about the making of the album.

The making of Medicine for Birds was a lot of fun for me. One of my favorite things about it was that all of the songs on the record were songs that I wrote at home in my room in Virginia. I had just created all these laptop demos on GarageBand, so the cool thing was that when I actually came to the studio, I had these little demos of everything, so we got to work from those and decide what we elevate and how we wanted to expand on the ideas I already brought in.

When you were in the studio and you were fleshing out these songs, what was the process like? Did you ever have a moment where you felt like, "Oh, I don't know if I can really do this?"

Anytime you begin a new project there's a certain amount of self-doubt or insecurity but at the end of it all I knew that I was surrounded an amazing team of really talented musicians and producers, so I was really happy with the outcome. We were all able to pitch in and bring our ideas to the table.

Tell us about the team you worked with.

My producer for Medicine for Birds was Charlie Peacock. For those who don't know him, he was the one who produced the Civil Wars' records. He also produced Switchfoot for a while. What I was drawn to about Charlie from the very beginning was that I thought he had a very great sense of detail. He was able to fill in the gaps that I totally wasn't aware of because when I was first writing my songs on my own, I was working with really limited resources, just having my little laptop and my one guitar and not many effects or anything special. Charlie, on the other hand, had access to all these resources, all these amazing session players and he really helped me to color the album. And of course after Charlie there were countless great session musicians: I had a great mixer, Richie Biggs; session players like Dan Dugmore, who was sitting there playing pedal steel on all of Linda Ronstadt's records; Andy Leftwich, who is an amazing fiddle player who plays with Ricky Skaggs; and so many other talented players, too.

Let's talk about the song "Orange Flower." I was listening to the lyrics and thinking about the song, and when it comes to the meaning of the color of flowers – if you're talking about orange roses, it conveys enthusiasm or passion. What's the meaning behind the orange flower in your song?

What I was thinking of when I wrote that line was that I had always heard that the red roses were a sign of true romance and really trying to impress someone and that yellow roses were more like – you give them to your mom or something as a little gesture of gratitude. I was thinking of orange being in-between that and how in several occasions I have felt neither here nor there with someone and it's a very frustrating feeling, to feel in-between and not have a totally defined place in someone's mind.

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