Photo Credit: Nicola Gell
With nothing but a fiddle and a dream, Phoebe Hunt embarked on the latest chapter of her life, and the soundtrack to that came together for her 2023 release, ‘Nothing Else Matters,’ available on all major music and streaming platforms now. Alone with an omelet, Hunt discussed the hurdles of being alone, glamorized realities, and more.
Kendra: You’d played in bands before but as of late are taking on the world with just your fiddle in hand. Were there any unexpected hurdles you faced, or perhaps surprising joys you found in doing your own thing?
Phoebe Hunt: I’ve been calling this the “alone but never alone” tour…to be fair, I am sitting alone at a diner in Annandale, NY as I respond to this question, eating an omelet and typing words on my phone. But later this evening I have a friend joining me after the show and have been invited to a dinner gathering at her home tomorrow for my night off.
I have always enjoyed traveling alone because of the freedom and flexibility that it inspires…The spontaneity of being in a creative moment is exhilarating and there is no one to prove anything to.
It’s still unfolding…and I am still learning what this is really all about for me on a spiritual level. On a physical level, being on the road alone has its perks and its drawbacks. One of the most difficult parts is the actual physical challenge of traveling alone – lugging the merch suitcase around, getting on shuttle buses, etc. is a bit physically strenuous. With a band, we can always have someone stay behind with the “stuff” and utilize the strength of being a part of a team.
There is also the element of “if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really fall?” Entering and exiting the travel experiences alone can bring me into a twilight zone existence. Of course, the people I meet along the way, and the audience help ground me in reality.
On a musical level, of course, I miss my band! There is nothing like floating atop the musical genius of world-class musicians who catapult you into another dimension. However, there is something profoundly empowering about learning how to trust in my own ability to hold this sacred space for myself. Before the shows, I call in the great spirit and ask that she might channel through me the words and notes that will be most beneficial to those who gather in the audience.
My connection to the listener becomes of even greater importance and a part of me, a sixth sense if you will, is reading the room and playing the songs that are called upon. I can’t explain it exactly, but sometimes I spontaneously write an instrumental interlude between two songs, which feels intended for a specific soul in the audience who needed that moment. When I play alone I can’t quite stick to the set list. The element of improvisation heightens and something takes over me that guides me to the next song. Sometimes it’s just a little flicker of an idea that pops in my mind or a melody that makes its way into my fingers.
In that way, I feel taken away by the music. Again, I am still at the beginning of this journey so it has yet to fully reveal itself to me. But I know this much. This is a necessary part of my musical evolution and I am grateful for the opportunity to explore this aloneness…whatever its greater purpose reveals itself to be.
Kendra: Nevertheless, you’ve been releasing music for over a decade now. Which, when you get a second to sit back – do you listen back to your self-titled EP and take mental notes on how you’ve grown since then as an artist?
Phoebe Hunt: Honestly it’s been a long time since I checked out the EP. Maybe I’ll listen back to it later today just because of this question…
Each project seems to emerge as a vehicle to teach me the lessons I am meant to learn at that particular time. They each have their place and their own unique storylines in the greater narrative of my life. I honor each project for what it is and try not to compare the past versions of myself with the current one. I am a different person now, yet still the same girl just trying to understand life through a song.
Kendra: How would you compare who you were on that EP to who you are now with ‘Nothing Else Matters?’
Phoebe Hunt: Hmmm…If I have to compare myself to a past version I would say this version is more fearless. I remember back then I had the idea of playing fiddle and singing at the same time and someone in the music biz told me that I should “keep my sound more in line with what people previously knew me as,” so I did.
Now, I am finally realizing that dream of traveling with just my fiddle and would follow my own heart over some music industry advice any day. Back then I was just trying to wrap my mind around how it could be possible to build a career in this industry. Now, I feel more free to explore, it seems no one really knows how a real career is formed, and from what I have learned – it comes most directly from the artist’s pure, unadulterated heart.
My goal on this project has always been to strip away any nonsense and just allow myself to express. Most of the nonsense, though it seems, is in my very own mind, so learning to strip that away is a challenge in itself.
Kendra: This record is one I can fully relate to, especially “Galloping.” Do you think that social media has pushed us into dangerous territory when it comes to dreams and expectations since we’re always left comparing ourselves to the glamorized versions of reality people post online? That’s usually when I feel the lowest, where I’m like, well…I think I’m happy BUT I’m not traveling in Rome like her, or working a fancy job like him…so am I happy?
Phoebe Hunt: Oh, absolutely. In Buddhist philosophy; comparison is the root of suffering. Our society is built upon consumerism that sells to the weak parts of ourselves that are stuck within the comparative mind. Social media was built upon this very stigma, feeding the weak parts of ourselves in a drive to sell more. Goodness is a double-sided sword. Of course, I buy into it too. You gotta play the game to win…so here we are, “Galloping” again.
Kendra: Let’s talk more about your fiddle. What inspired this choice of instrument? Was it a band, album, or song?
Phoebe Hunt: This instrument came into my hands at six years old and stayed there. I have my momma to thank for signing me up for lessons and my papa to thank for showing me what real practice looks like.
Kendra: Time for a side note – this month we’re asking everyone to pick a song for our ‘ZO Summer 2023’ playlist. So what summer anthem would you add, and why?
Phoebe Hunt: Nina Simone, “You’ve Got To Learn” because we all must do our best to learn.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Nothing Else Matters’ out now, what else is on the horizon for you at the moment?
Phoebe Hunt: At the moment I am doing my best to keep up with the album release as well as to release any expectations of what exactly this will mean for me. My mind tends to be goal-oriented and has an idea of what it wants… but my work is to release this without any expectations and let the music be my guide through the wild ride.