WYEP Studio Session: Erin McKeown
Erin McKeown came to WYEP on January 23, 2013 before playing a show at Club Café in support of her new album, Manifestra. She told WYEP’s Mike Sauter that the album deals more directly with social issues than her previous releases. “I’ve always written records from what’s happening in my life,” McKeown said. “The last few years, I’ve just spent more and more time doing social justice work and more activism stuff. When it came time to make the record, it was just a reflection of the last few years, something I’ve always wanted to do but didn’t know how.”
McKeown said that she was intimidated by the difficulty of writing political music that also sounded good, but she was relieved when listeners responded that it made them think and dance at the same time.
Playing solo with an electric guitar, she began with the album’s opener, “Politician” before moving into “The Jailor.” She said the song was inspired by an artist-activist retreat she took to Tuscon, Arizona. “We went down and saw the wall that was being built between the United States and Mexico, and it’s not really a wall at all, but a series of metal posts. Apparently it was built that way so water could pass through, and that was the strongest image to me that we, whoever built the wall, allow something as natural as water to pass through but don’t allow something as equally natural as people and culture and families.”
McKeown also spoke about writing a song with Rachel Maddow for a benefit for the Deep Water Horizon tragedy, about her music video for the song “Proof,” in which she had to learn to sing the tune backwards, and about recording a bonus live acoustic album in a library.
1) The Politician
2) The Jailor
3) That's Just What Happened