To say that Shara Worden eats and sleeps music is both a
gross underestimation and blatant disregard for the facts at hand: Fathered
by a National Accordian champion. Check. Recorded first song by the age of three.
Check. Studied composition under renowned Australian composer. Check. Cheerleading
captain for Sufjan Stevens’ Illnoisemakers. Check. Penned song (“To
Pluto’s Moon”) that inadvertently spawned an International Astronomical
Union-wide campaign to have Pluto reinstated as a planet. TBA.
But in the meantime, Shara has been meandering across European
festival stages in support of MBD’s newly released “A Thousand Shark’s
Teeth”, an album recorded in Los Angeles, New York, and Berlin with a
supporting cast of musicians the size of MC Hammer’s entourage. Known
for her keen ability to transplant classical textures onto rock landscapes,
as seen on 2006’s “Bring Me the Workhorse”, Shark’s
Teeth flips the script and constructs songs around the colors and tones of the
of the semi-orchestral arrangements themselves. The result? Lush dynamic string,
sections haunting operatic vocals somber guitar tones and just enough sweet
sincerity to make it all manageable.
Nearly all press surrounding the release of “A Thousand Shark’s
Teeth” mentions that it took 6 years to make. What do you have to say
for yourself in defense?
Not so much that the album took six years to make, but more so that the songs
span six years of writing. I’ve been working on the bulk of the string
arrangements for probably four and a half years. So I guess that is practically
6 years. It’s not that unusual. The reason I included that as a piece
of info is because it conveys a sense of journey. The new Portishead record
took 10 years--there’s lots of records people work on for a really long
period of time. I think its just one way of communicating a sense of journey
and a sense of progression.
Of course a lot can happen over the course of six years.
How often did you find yourself revisiting old material?
The song structures didn’t’ change, it was more an evolution in
learning how to arrange. In the beginning I was thinking it would only be a
string quartet record, then I realized that wasn’t what I wanted. Changing
how I wanted to arrange and learning how moods and feelings are evoked from
tone was part of the process. A really big lesson for me was that we hear color,
tambre and sound before we actually hear harmony. That may very well be the
essence of the struggle behind the creation of the record.
Essentially, I was trying to teach myself a new way of writing.
I always compare it to how on the subway when you’re looking at your reflection,
the window is black and its reflecting back to you and its your dark self, the
same way that water reflects an image. There’s something distorted and
hazy about it. Instead of coming out forthright and saying something, there’s
away of alluding to using color and metaphor. This was my objective. I was trying
to reconcile something inside of myself.
In your brief stint on earth, you’ve worked with
some great artistic minds. Any advice for the rest of us?
Don’t be overly precious about making albums, just let them go. My drummer
said that to me. Another piece of advice I’ve received goes something
along the lines of: “live the dream and live the myth but don’t
believe it.” I think it has to do with the fact that as a musician you’re
able to do this wonderful thing, you’re up there on the stage, you’re
a magic maker, you’re a transporter, you’re a social critic, the
owl of society, you’re reflecting back, you’re commenting and your
pushing, and shape shifting and shaping culture as well as reflecting it and
yet you have to separate yourself from all of that.
What’s the next move from here?
We’ll be touring with Clare & the Reasons this fall, which we’re
very excited about. It’s going to be the ‘Pluto Tour’ because
we both have songs about Pluto.
Your thoughts on Pluto being robbed of its ‘planet
status’ in recent years?
Apparently it’s actually under debate again. The scientific community
seems to be flip-flopping and they’re not sure if they’re going
to re-classify it as a planet or not. I say, ‘Let ‘em in!’—with
the VIP pass and everything. Even for sentimental reasons alone. I think we
all have this attachment to it because as kids, it was the furthest away thing
we knew about. It’s where our playground ended. Let’s get him back
in the game!