Country singer Pam Tillis has done so much in her career thus far, but she’s far from done! Before the world shut down to heal, she was appearing on some of the biggest stages, including at the CMAs. So it was an honor and a pleasure to get to chat with Pam about her latest album, ‘Looking For a Feeling,’ local venues she’s missing, and much more in this back and forth.
Kendra: Today it’s not uncommon for an artist to try new things, go from one style to the next but you were doing that back in the day. Why do you feel the music industry has loosened its grip on artists sticking to one genre throughout their career?
Pam Tillis: I think the industry has loosened its grip by popular demand. First and foremost the fans are mixing it up. Lots of people may favor a particular style over others but most people if they like a song or singer, they don’t care what style it is…everyone curates their own playlists now instead of having it dictated to them by a program director. And lots of artists have been into combining styles and flavors, borrowing from other genres besides their own. It keeps things fresh and music evolving
Kendra: You’ve done pop, Americana, and country, but your April 2020 release, ‘Looking For a Feeling,’ sits under that country umbrella but allows little droplets of other genres to fall in throughout. You also have this great ‘70s feel going on. What about that decade has resonated with you most as a musician and as a songwriter?
Pam Tillis: The late seventies was when I really started deciding what my own musical taste was and not just being exposed to music from my parents, school, or church. Like most young people I got into the music all my friends were listening to; a lot of classic rock, southern rock, hippie country, some folk, blues and soul, some outlaw country, it was a great mix. I just felt like I had only hinted at those diverse influences on my previous records. So I guess I was feeling a bit nostalgic, a little bit of the “bell-bottom blues!”
Kendra: If you had to compare ‘Looking For a Feeling’ to “Last Summer’s Wine,” which would it be? An aged red, a white, top shelf, what?
Pam Tillis: That’s definitely a whiskey song.
Kendra: Like many musicians, I’m sure you are missing being up on stage. Are there any local venues you want to shout out to let them know you’re thinking of them, missing them, and can’t wait to get back to them?
Pam Tillis: I’m really sad about the Basement East that got clobbered by the tornado a few months back. They’ve suffered a one-two punch, but all live music venues are hurting and I’m afraid many might not make it. at least for a while. I’m very sad about all that and my heart hurts not just for us artists but all the people involved in live music, all the promoters, tech people, down to the caterers, and the guys wrapping cables. It sucks for live music right now and yes I’m ready when they say when I can get back out there we are ready!
Kendra: What song or songs from ‘Looking For a Feeling’ are you most looking forward to playing live?
Pam Tillis: I’ve been doing “Last Summer’s Wine” and “My Kind of Medicine.” They work great with my acoustic trio, but “Burning Star,” “Dark Turn of Mind,” “Dolly 1069.” I’m itching to do those I’ve been doing a lot of rehearsing with my trio, spaced out, that seems pretty safe but I want to hear the whole band on the whole dang album for sure.
Kendra: Your father has been one of your biggest inspirations from birth. What was the best advice he ever shared in regards to artistry?
Pam Tillis: The best advice I ever got from Dad was to be true to yourself, don’t copy other artists, don’t chase trends. He said let the trends come around to you…wow, was that ever succinct. So many young artists don’t understand that. Having your own sound is where it’s at.
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are, or you can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned but can you also share a song that never fails to get you through when the world around you feels like a mess?
Pam Tillis: I really like dancing in the aisles of the supermarket if the muzak is just right and no one is looking, it’s a cheap thrill and I save some of my best moves for the cereal aisle…I crack myself up.