Peacemaker: T-Nile Reconciles the Bloodfeud Between Two Warring Genres
(Editor’s note: In the print version of this article, the photo is incorrectly attributed; it was taken by Jen Morgan, the Director of a music video for T Nile.)
Electronic and folk music are about as antithetical as it gets. One is electric; the other acoustic. One is a traditional form of storytelling that passes on oral histories. The other is often instrumental and more focused on dancing. One is loud. The other soft. So it makes sense that T-Nile, who will play at Club 66 in Ashland on Sat., April 16, never really deliberately set out to blend the two.
“I make music that moves me and then try to figure out what to label it.” she says. “Growing up with parents who played blues, jazz, cajun, appalachian, reggae and celtic grounded me in roots, and later in my teens my friends turned me on to scandinavian pop and german techno.”
And her parents were an influence beyond just their record collection. T-Nile says they were her first music teachers.
“We had a huge collection of instruments of various forms lying around the house, and often after dinner we’d all jam together,” she says. “When I was 6, I started traveling with my parents and then later, just with my father as he toured up and down the west coast as far as San Diego, playing in all the major cities.”
That experience touring with her father’s one-man band showed that anything was possible. Even blending banjos and synths, or dressing up plinky folk song structures with spacey reverbs and dance drums, like on her most recent album Tingle and Spark. It’s not totally without precedent. Folk hip-hop artists Appalachia Rising have made similar experiments, as have mega-stars Mumford and Sons. And one could argue that sampling (a tradition of electronic music), isn’t a total philosophical departure from the folk tradition of recycling melodies.
But T-Nile doesn’t really think of her writing process in such etymological terms.
“When I write, I’m looking for answers, for relief from some kind of anxiety, confusion or an internal question that my conscious mind can’t answer,” she says.
And what causes more anxiety than two seemingly irreconcilable concepts? Say, like folk and electronic peacefully co-existing?
“I basically write songs out of necessity,” says T-Nile. “If I didn’t have that creative outlet I’d probably be in all kinds of trouble.”
8 pm, Sat., April 16
Club 66, 1951 Ashland St., Ashland