You're doing so many things at the same time! Singer/songwriter,
actor, producer, radio show co-host, clairvoyant, even
ordained minister! (Have I missed something?) But who
are you above all?
Egnew: Above all? That's
a really good question. Maybe I'm still trying to figure
that one out? I think I would have to say that above all,
I'm that one chick who would love to live in a tiny cabin
on top of a mountain in Montana or Alaska, and hole up
to write novels or record ambient albums! But I would
like my mountain to be near a town of at least 14 people,
so I wouldn't completely lose ALL of my people skills
to the call of the wild. But until then – I guess
I'll keep my fingers in all sorts of pies, and I'll juggle
a few more plates.
Your all-female rock band Pope Jane was a big success
for almost ten years. And then, when Dreamworks, MCA and
Universal were all interested in signing the group, it
... dissolved. What's happened?
Egnew: Ah, that was a heartbreaker at the time! Pope
Jane was in the right place at the wrong time. Three years
ago, the record industry hit a very big financial wall
and went bankrupt overall, and it's been fighting its
way back every since. Pope Jane had done so well independently
that the big labels finally wanted to sign us –
and then the financial ceiling caved in on the music industry,
all in the same month we were negotiating with the labels.
MCA was bought out completely by Universal and Dreamworks
sold their music division to somebody, I think maybe it
was Virgin Atlantic but I could be wrong on that one.
Anyway, every record company has an A & R department,
and when the labels went through the transitions, all
of the parties that were interested in Pope Jane were
laid off. So basically, everyone who had scouted us was
gone! Pope Jane took a really big break from playing after
that happened. I'd like to do another album with the band
this upcoming year, and the girls seem to be into it after
all the dust has settled. Even though the labels fell
through, our fans never did, so a new album would be a
lot of fun!
So, you seem to be in the best place to tell us, how does
the record industry's decline feel for an artist...
Egnew: Honestly, it's six of one and a half dozen
of another. On one hand, the age-old dream of being found
in a nightclub and being signed on the spot, like what
happened to The Doors at The Whiskey, has been dashed
because the labels just don't have the money that they
used to, and they are much more cautious before signing
someone. People still do get signed, but it's a lot more
rare, and it's after the artist has really, really proven
their track record and is basically doing very well on
their own and is their own business, like Pope Jane was.
Or, it's someone who is brand new to music and the label
can build the artist from scratch, and keep a majority
of the income off of them. On another hand, the internet
has really leveled the playing field for artists with
digital distribution, so artists truthfully aren't dependent
on a label anymore for record distribution. If an artist
is a smart business person, they can make a lot of money.
The problem is, most artists are artists, not business
people. Labels are still helpful in terms of marketing
budgets, breaking through the radio glass ceiling for
radio play, although radio listenership has dramatically
declined in the last few years, and of course, planning
tours. But I would say that beneath all the rhetoric,
even though their careers are now 100% in their own hands
with the internet music boom, I think most artists miss
the dream of being signed, and being whisked off to become
the next great rock star who plays the big bowl arenas.
Those kind of gigantic concerts are rare these days, too.
We just live in a very different world that has gotten
very small and convenience-oriented, where on-demand,
Tivo, and the internet have really taken the place of
big live events, which can be a hassle to get to. Artists
can say what they want about the labels being the bad
buy, but labels aren't the problem in the music industry.
Greedy people are, and you can find those people in any
You seem to have a special sympathy for iSound digital
music store - it's the only place on the Web where all
or almost all you've ever recorded is available - the
entire Pope Jane collection, your solo albums, even your
unreleased singles. What is there so special about iSound?
Egnew: You know, nothing that I can tell! (laughing)
iSound was the first digital place that I put up all my
recorded material. I mean, some of the Pope Jane stuff
has been up in WalMart.com and iTunes and the like for
awhile now, and part of the reason I loaded up iSound
with the rest of the catalogue is that some of the albums
I put up there digitally are out of print, and iSound
doesn't care about that. At the time, some of the other
carriers, such as iTunes, required that you be able to
sell hard copies of the album as well, and I didn't want
to re-press 10,000 copies of Pope Jane's stuff right now,
but that rule has since changed with iTunes, so I'm sure
I'll get the other online retailers my material. I've
just been so slammed with everything else I have going
on that I've lagged a bit on the distribution end, which
is really stupid, as that's what pays the bills!
CD sales are falling, and digital downloads rising and
becoming cheaper and cheaper. Don't you think the trend
is catastrophic for the music?
Egnew: I think that if price wars keep happening
over downloads, it could potentially be a problem down
the road. You can down-price yourself right out of the
market, if you're not careful. The consumer only thinks
of a per-song basis, but to record the song takes money
for most artists, and of course, time, so to keep undercutting
a track – 99 cents, then 89, then 59 cents –
pretty soon, it's just not cost-effective for an artist
to rent studio time, or buy decent equipment so the album
doesn't sound like garbage, or buy all the software to
make a great album in a home studio. It costs money to
make music. It doesn't just flow out of the endless magic
music fountain and onto the internet, and I think that
consumers sometimes forget that, because it's so easy
to access. I think 99 cents for a track is perfectly reasonable.
I pay it for other people's music and I have no problem.
The digital download phenomenon has really made it easier
to produce music and sell it in terms of retail hard costs
– artists don't have to shell out thousands of dollars
up front on CD's and hope they sell – they can make
one copy, upload it, and sell it over and over again.
People love to get stuff for free, heck, so do I, but
once people get used to having something for free, or
near free, they will freak out if asked to pay for it.
I give a lot of mp3's away free on my website as promotion.
But I think moderation is a powerful thing in this area.
The classic example is Stephen King, who wrote a novel
and sold it digitally, telling his fans that they could
download the book, THEN pay whatever they thought was
fair for the book. He thought his fans would support his
good faith. Actually, the book had millions of downloads,
and most for only one penny -- a penny, from his die-hard
fans who were supposedly supporting his effort! So he
said he'd never do that again, and it goes to prove that
we all love free stuff, but even artists need to eat.
2007 was one of your most fruitful years - a new album,
Red Lodge, a starring role in the new Clear Pictures film
Changing Spots, which is, musically, also a kind of your
solo work, isn't it?...
Egnew: Yeah, composing scores is a very solitary
activity, that's for sure. I have composed scores for
several TV and film projects, and I always love the symbiotic
relationship between the action onscreen and the message
of the music. I did compose the original orchestral score
for Changing Spots, and the soundtrack also includes some
of my pop music.
The publicity slogan for "Changing Spots"
says, "The future is as far away as home." Sounds
great, but what does it mean?
Egnew: My interpretation would be that sometimes
people need to go back to their roots to figure out who
they really are, in order to go forward.
You are actually co-hosting a radio show, "The Music
Highway," with Sheena Metal, another huge personality
on the American music scene. How did it happen that you
started to work together?
Egnew: Sheena is one of the most multi-talented people
I have ever met in my life, and I am so lucky to have
the chance to work with her. She had e-mailed me years
ago when Pope Jane was going strong, and she wanted some
music to play in between her talk segments when she was
hosting on 97.1 The FM Talk Station, here in Los Angeles.
She loved the music so much that she began booking me
in clubs here in LA, and the rest is history! We work
very well together, as I tend to be more literal and earnest
on the air sometimes, and Sheena is a brilliant stand-up
comic and the show's lead, so it's a great balance. I
was on-air talent for a music radio station up in my hometown
in Montana, so I had on-air experience, and it's just
a blast to work with someone who is so incredibly talented
in front of a microphone! She cracks me up a lot during
the show, and I try to keep it together, because no one
wants that one co-host who is laughing over the top of
everything. Although I still laugh, but hey, I'm only
human, and one completely susceptible to hysterically
The meaning of success, what is it for you?
Egnew: Ah, that meaning has changed over the years
for me, for sure. When I was a teenager, success meant
fame. I got locally famous, got a full ride musical theater
scholarship, felt successful, and moved on. As I got into
my early 20's, I realized that being famous was nothing
without someone backing you, so I thought success meant
signing a record deal. I got signed to a smaller regional
label up in Seattle with my solo project, felt successful,
and I moved on. As I hit my late 20's, Pope Jane was going
strong, I realized that being signed was nothing if the
label didn't push your material and get it out to people,
so I thought success meant a lot of national touring and
lots of album sales. We did that, I felt successful, and
I moved on. In my early thirties, Pope Jane was almost
signed and then wasn't, we weren't touring anymore, we
weren't recording anymore, we still had the fame, but
nothing current to back it. I didn't feel very successful
at that point, because everything I had worked for, and
everything I had judged success on, was gone. A few years
later, after acting as a lead in a film, I felt successful
after doing something I really enjoyed doing. And that's
when I realized that success isn't something you can prove
to yourself on paper. It's a feeling, inside of you, that
comes from doing something you love, and doing it well.
I'm a success in my life because I love what I do, and
I'm lucky enough to have people in my life who enjoy what
I do – friends, fans, my family. What more can a
gal ask for?
You are a multi-award winning artist. In 2007 you
were named best Keyboardist and in 2006 you were named
Best Pop Alternative Female Guitarist. (Congratulations!)
But, honestly, what do you think about all those Olympics-like
competitions in music? Does it make any sense to declare
one artist "better" than the other? Beethoven
"better" than Bach, Bob Dylan "better"
than John Lennon?
Egnew: Well, honestly? I'm probably the wrong person
to ask, because I love awards shows. I mean, I do. I like
to win shiny things, just like the next guy. It's fun!
You don't always win, but when you do, it's a great feeling.
Sometimes your friends win, and that's a great feeling,
too! I don't think there's anything wrong with friendly
awards competitions, and I don't think anyone really thinks
one artist is actually being declared "better"
than another per se – I just think it's a periodic
recognition for someone's work. I think people who live
for awards may want to consider some balance in their
work, and I think people who become psychotically competitive
in every aspect of their life may have some serious emotional
problems that need looking into. But if a person can keep
awards shows in balance, they can be a blast. I like awards,
because I like the pageantry, the dressing up, the hub-bub
and the excitement. Any artist who tells you that they
don't care if they ever win an industry-related award
is usually lying, mostly to themselves. But that's so
common, to see some artist posing in the corner with this
feigned indignant look on their face when you talk about
awards ceremonies. It's very cool to act like you don't
care, because that way, if you don't win, you won't look
like the big gullible geek who wished they did win! There
was a great line in that Christopher Guest film, For Your
Consideration. In the film, Parker Posey plays and actress
who may be nominated for an Oscar. When her character
was asked how she felt about it, she says, "I don't
act for trophies!" I turned to my friend I was watching
the film with and said, "Hell, I do!" (Laughing)
It's sad to me that people can't just have fun with awards
and ceremonies, and not analyze them to death. I sure
have fun with them, even if I don't win, but hey –
I'm always hoping! I don't think it's embarrassing to
hope, and I don't think it's embarrassing to cheer for
the winner, even if it's not me.
P.B.: There are three very special albums
in your catalog - your meditation music. They made me
think of that very old theory according to which the Universe
is filled with music, but its frequencies are too low
for a human ear. Musicians are mediums making this music
audible. To you, where does the music come from and what
is it really?
Egnew: Wow, I think that's the coolest quote I've
ever heard – Musicians are mediums making Universal
music audible! Very true! Music is a language. I mean,
really, like a real tonal language with a structure and
a syntax, not like some analogy for a language, that encodes
an enormous amount of information in wavelengths. You
know how fiber optics works, right? You have this beam
of light that is encrypted with enormous amounts of information
that is decoded once it reaches its destination. Music
is the same way – there are huge volumes of emotional
information stored in how you play a chord, or which chords
you choose to put in what progression, or how you use
the note, or how your throat creates the note if you're
a singer, that get decoded once they hit the human ear
and are interpreted by the human spirit. Composers and
clergy have known this for centuries, and that's why certain
Gregorian chants drone in the keys that they do because
the tonal cues inspire the human brain to leap into a
Theta wave pattern, which is very much like a dream-state
used in conscious meditation, and the human spirit is
then more free to communicate with the spiritual realm,
as the conscious mind isn't butting in and getting in
the way with that day's grocery list! Well, okay, they
were monks and didn't go shopping, but you get the drift.
So yes, human beings, and animals, and trees, and plants
– we're all busy decoding these constant wave pulses
from a conscious, caring Universe that is continually
attempting to connect with us on an emotional level through
the sounds of waves crashing and how that makes you feel,
or the sound of wind through the trees and how that makes
you feel, as emotionality is a base common denominator
in all human beings, and almost all living things, no
matter what language is spoken. That's why some artists
are more consistent hit songwriters than others. The ones
who have a handle on the concept of music as a tonal language
can then continually create melodies which in their native
tonal language also fit with the content of the linear
spoken lyrics, and marry them with an accompaniment that
tonally sends the same message. A melody is a data stream,
accompaniment is a data stream, and it all better match
up with the meaning of your lyrics, otherwise, when the
human spirit goes to decode the song, it's just a jumbled
mess. Most songwriters have a handle on this unconsciously,
as "Universal Mediums" as you put it, but the
ones that aren't really wired for songwriting but love
performing can't quite figure out why the songs don't
work, or don't stick with people even though they have
catchy lyrics, and it can be really frustrating for them.
If I understand it right, any music may be considered
as meditation music, and its effect is always triple -
emotional, intellectual and physical... Should I add pharmacological!
Egnew: That's absolutely correct. Sound is one of
the most intense healing tools on the planet. Tones and
sound can heal people on levels that they don't even know
are wounded, because the conscious mind is arrogant, and
doesn't let people clue into their darker crevices inside
where the conscious self has little control. However,
the human spirit only answers to what calls to it in the
same language, and even though the conscious mind spends
a lot of time talking and chattering over the top of the
spirit, the spirit tunes it out and listens for a language
it understands and can relate with, and then the spirit
responds. I mean, why do you think that you can be in
a really bad mood, driving down the street, and a song
will come on the radio which suddenly puts a smile on
your face within the first few bars of music? It's because
the human spirit has heard and connected with the language
of its origin, and it's thrilled to be able to communicate
I'm feeling a little bit jealous... You are not just a
theoretician, you are a practitioner - you're healing
people! Where do you find the time to do all this?
Egnew: Ah, I bet you heal all sorts of people everyday
and you don't even know it, with something you say, or
with a hug, or maybe you've made them laugh when they
really needed it! You know, I really do love my healing
and clairvoyant practice. I try to balance my spiritual
work with my entertainment schedule the best that I possibly
can, but the entertainment end is really off the hook
lately, which is a good problem to have. I don't get the
opportunity to teach as many classes on spiritual issues
as I used to, and I still try and get to my tonal healing
practice with clients as much as possible. But everything
has its own season, and sometimes I'll be busy with my
healing and spiritual work while the entertainment end
of my world breathes a little bit. That doesn't happen
too often as of late with everything I'm doing in film,
TV and music, but I just try and keep a window open.
Now, a very hard question (for me). From your website,
I know that you are "a first decant Pisces with a
0 degree Leo Moon and a 24 degree Cancer rising, with
Venus in Aries, Mars in Sagitarrius, North Node in Aries,
Jupiter in Libra, Neptune in Scorpio, Saturn in Aries,and
Pluto in Virgo." What the heck it could mean about
you for an ordinary mortal?
Egnew: (Laughing) Well, it means a lot to some, and
nothing to others, but the cliff notes version is –
it means I'm heavy on the creative and spiritual aptitudes,
and I'm designed to be an entertainer, a priest, or Black
Ops Special Forces Marine! Usually, I find all three are
applicable in entertainment!
You have a dog and four cats. I won't ask you whom
you love more. But ... whom do you admire more - dogs
Egnew: You know, I love them both, but as far as
admiration goes, I'd have to say the dogs have it. They
have an ability to love unconditionally, and I guess so
do cats, but if a cat doesn't like you'll, they'll poop
on your carpet, or throw up in your hair when you're sleeping,
just to prove a point. But not dogs. Dogs especially have
the ability to look past people's ugliness to find the
best in them, and focus on it. Dogs aren't stupid, they
just choose to overlook people's external grotesqueness
and love on people anyway. Maybe they think if they keep
reinforcing the good behavior in people, their owners
will eventually be the people on the outside that the
dog knows they are, on the inside. I think God put dogs
on the earth to remind us that if a dog can love a person
that much, a person who is full of all sorts of frailties
and darkness sometimes, then surely, we can chose to love
My favorite pair of questions. What do you esteem the
most in people?
Egnew: I adore selflessness in people. Not fakey
put-on selflessness, but the genuine kind. A sense of
selflessness is indicative of an enormous sense of self
– not ego, but of true self esteem, which is the
foundation for the internal security to have hope, and
generate compassion, enthusiasm, effort, and all things
this world needs a little more of. We all need to focus
on ourselves now and again, but that whole "looking
out for number one" garbage from the pop psychology
of the seventies is just so dated, and in the long run,
it doesn't work. People are not intended to be islands.
A little selflessness goes a long way.
And what do you detest?
Egnew: I think I detest cowardice in people the most.
We all get afraid now and again, but living the life of
a true coward, someone who stands for nothing but satiates
their sense of me-me-me and fear from moment to moment,
no matter who is thrown under the bus in the process,
is different than battling confusion once in awhile. Cowardice
breeds selfishness, it breeds contempt, it breeds a dysfunctional
competitive attitude because the person always feels invisible,
it breeds lies and apathy and covetousness and misdirected
aggression out of a false sense of being threatened. I
have a really hard time having empathy for people who
make others suffer because they're afraid to handle their
own lives or their own issues. You never really know who
they are inside, or what they stand for, because the answer
is -- nothing.
To finish on a positive note... The way things are
going, don't you think it's the end of the world (as we
Egnew: Why yes, I do think it's the end of the world
as we know it – and I'm just fine! (Laughing) Seriously,
everything must have an end to have a beginning, and we
desperately need a new beginning, so something has to
end. It's just the way of things. I don't look at it like
the end of the world. I look at it like The Beginning.
We can't keep on this same course, because even mathematical
models of say, global warming, show us broiling like mad
over the next few years, ergo, something must change.
The "global system" has gotten so myopic and
corrupt that it serves only itself, and the truth is,
anything that serves only itself will implode after awhile,
because the Universe is made for one cog to support another
cog – not one cog to turn itself. The Universe will
consider that idle cog broken, and spit it out. This is
true for both people and organizations. I don't think
its The End for everybody – just for those who insist
on subscribing to a defunct system. I think as a race,
we have the chance to really step up, or we're going to
have to suffer the consequences, plain and simple, as
the whole system has broken down to the point of needing
an overhaul. We need to power-down, so to speak, in order
to clear the viruses from the mainframe to re-load a better
operating platform, and re-boot. It's that simple. I'm
looking forward to the re-booting of the global operating
system, myself – hopefully, I'll be a part of it!
If not, then I'm sure there's some big cruise ship in
the sky that I can board and hang around the heavenly
buffet for a millennium or two, or until I decide to come
back down here on planet earth again for another tour
of duty (laughing)! Either way, it's just another day
in the life of planet earth, and happy to say I'm a resident
– for the time being, anyway!