Egnew Sees Red:
The Red Lodge Album
word "prodigy" should be reserved for people who
actually are prodigies, like Mozart, Prince, and Danielle
Egnew, because much like the others, Danielle Egnew is the
type of musical talent that only comes along once in a generation.
From scoring films to fronting band after band to producing
artists, her latest album, Red Lodge is a solo masterpiece
deceptively packaged as a "solo acoustic album",
with tracks that include violin, mandolin, guitar, bass,
drums and percussion, Tibetan bowls and piano, all played
by Egnew, a two-time All Access Music Award recipient .
Red Lodge is a complex personal diary, an emotionally explosive
body of work that is bound to be labeled as a musical staple
next to Carole King's Tapestry. A lonely overtone reminiscent
of an empty boxcar traveling through barren fall-time prairies,
Red Lodge is an Americana story crafted from heartache,
isolation and self-discovery.
Danielle, an acoustic solo album is usually something
an artist releases when they don't have a band to fill out
their sound. You have several bands, so what made you go
in the acoustic direction?
Egnew: Honestly, it was about getting out certain
songs that I absolutely loved, but that were more intimate
pieces. I mean, yeah, I play in a lot original full band
projects, but they just aren't the right platform for certain
seems to be a commercial stigma around acoustic albums.
Were you ever afraid that all this effort you've put into
Red Lodge would be wasted?
Oh, no, I wasn't. This album is all about reflection, and
everybody reflects, whether they admit it or not. This album
is all heart and all raw emotion. I didn't record this album
from the place of grooming it to be the next number one
charting record on Star 98 in Los Angeles, although that
would be cool! Actually, I've had to really work to not
produce the album like I would my other projects that were
rotated on radio. Don't get me wrong, the album has plenty
of cuts that could go radio ready, but the album is much
more about telling stories. Not everything [musically] has
to be framed up with a hip hop backbeat in order to get
people to listen.
video for your single Swinging At Nothing is beautiful.
The video was shot in your hometown up in Montana?
Thank you. Yeah, the video has gotten great feedback, and
you can see it online YouTube, MySpace, Google, Metacafe
and Yahoo. Did I forget somewhere? Probably. Anyway, director
Paul Mehlhaff, who is also one of my good buddies, lives
up in my hometown of Billings, Montana. We shot the video
in the house I grew up in, where my parents live, and the
piano in the video is the Steinway baby grand that I grew
up playing. So it was really a special project. Paul gave
a copy of the video to my mom in her mailbox, and my mom
called me up thrilled with it, and we were both so surprised
that the inside of the piano lid was so polished and shiny!
The outside of the piano has seen better days! (laughs)
looked through the tracks and I didn't see any reference
to a Red Lodge. Where did the title of the album come from?
Red Lodge is a tiny mountain town in Montana, and one of
my very favorite places. It's a sanctuary for me that I
used to go to so I could process big emotional issues in
my life, and I named the album after this place because
the album is all about processing big emotional issues.
Red Lodge is an earthy town and an earthy album.
as a writer and producer, you are known for very full arrangements.
What were you trying to accomplish with such a departure
from the musical style that you are recognized for?
I can't say I'm trying to accomplish anything in particular
except to put out these songs that are really powerful.
I think artists fall down repetitive rat holes of their
own fear of change. They think their audiences won't evolve
with them, and sometimes, that's true, but in this case,
it's my first big solo album, so there's nothing to compare
it to, and I'm not afraid of change anyway, at least not
artistically. But don't ask me to give up my Rocky Road
ice cream (laughs). I think it would be weird for fans if
this album came out under Pope Jane, for sure, as that's
not the sound of the band. But this album is actually very
typical of stuff I do on my own. It's either this, or really
humongous orchestrated alt rock stuff. Yeah, true, I love
a big sound canvass to work with. I love to sculpt with
sound, and the more, layers, the merrier. But you can do
that with acoustic albums as well. There are songs on this
album with 38 tracks in them, yet it's considered acoustic.
I think artists need to relax a little bit about their song
choices ands just record what really sounds good, no matter
what genre it ends up falling into. A good song is a good
song. It's not rocket science, it's music.
of your big alternative rock material, I heard a rumor that
you scrapped half the material on Red Lodge and started
over because it wasn't the right sound for your album. Is
(laughs) No, it's only half true. I had some material that
was more mainstream pop and rock oriented that I had recorded
previously to Red Lodge, and I thought I would include it
since it was already done, but honestly, it just didn't
fit and it sounded really stupid together. I mean, really,
really stupid. I tried to squish them all together, because
some of these singles are tracks that have been doing really
well on digital download sites and I thought I'd give them
an official album to land on, but it just sounded like a
train wreck, and I couldn't handle it. I tried to be less
anal about it, but it didn't work, so I'll put them [the
songs] on their own rock album.
how many tracks did you scrap?
had to then write and record six other songs to finish your
Well, some of the songs were already written for the most
part and I did write some brand new ones, but yeah, I had
to re-record. No biggie. It's part of the job.
part of the job for you, someone who regularly puts out
volumes of material, but many artists would see this as
a huge setback.
It certainly was a time set-back, but I truly couldn't deal
with the inconsistencies of the feeling tone of the album.
I'd rather be four months behind in releasing a great album
than putting out something that sounds like a K-Tel sampler
I right about the fact that one of the tracks on the album,
Hey Sadie, is about a woman who kills herself by running
in front of a train?
Oh geez, it sounds terrible when I hear you say it like
that. Yes, it's true, it is about a girl who runs in front
of a train and kills herself.
never say why she killed herself. I have to ask, what made
Sadie do it?
I almost don't want to say, because when someone takes their
own life, the people left behind often times don't know
why they did it. They're just left with the hollowness of
what happened and the song is about the hollowness.
did you have a reason that Sadie killed herself?
Well, in my mind, Sadie lives in a small town in Montana
called Havre. It's a real town, right up North by Canada.
Sadie killed herself because she fell deeply in love with
another girl, and had no way to express this love on the
real world, and knew the love would never come to fruition
in her environment, so rather than live an empty life without
that love, she chose death.
not what I expected. Where would you get the inspiration
for such a dramatic statement?
(Pause) I think everyone has something they wish
they could have, but they can't have it, whether it's a
person, a place to live, a different job. I'm from Montana,
and right next door is Wyoming, the state where Matthew
Shepard was bludgeoned to death, and I know quite a few
people who have not lived the way they wanted to live because
they were afraid of the sociological consequences. It's
really sad, but it still happens.
you think that now, with this public knowledge of what the
song is about, that it could inspire people to be who they
really are rather than suffer in silence?
Well I hope so. I haven't really thought about it, as I
wasn't really intending on tipping why Sadie killed herself.
But now that it's out there, I would hope that people would
just be who they are, and be happy. No emotional pain is
worth dying for, no matter how suffocating it feels. As
they say, it's a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
But the song is really about hopelessness, and unfortunately,
there seems to be a lot of that in people that push them
towards drastic measures. Everything has a solution, and
if you want long enough, the emotional weather will change,
so hang in there!
a completely juxtaposed note, your song Me Me Mine Mine
My is an upbeat country song reprimanding selfishness: Me,
Me, Mine Mine My / You don't know why you even try / Lordy
if that's the best that you can do / Then go ahead and lay
down and die / And give us all a break for awhile / I've
got news, it ain't all about you. What inspired such
a point-blank message?
I work in entertainment! (laughing) Seriously, where I'm
from Montana, we're a pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps
culture, and I can't deal with self-indulgent, whiny people
who cry foul all the time when they bring a lot of their
own misery on themselves, or they could be using that energy
for positive change in their life. I'm all for being supportive
and understanding, because we all get disappointed sometimes,
but so many people just play victim and whine and cry, instead
of doing something productive to better their lives. In
Los Angeles, there are a lot of unhappy artists, and you
hear a lot of whining and blaming about why they're not
where they wanted to be, and it just gets old. We're living
in an age where the polar icecaps are melting, where laying
blame is the new black, where the country is completely
broke and mainstream news reports here in L.A. include tips
on how to live on a budget, and people still find time to
drift around and wallow in their own self-pity because someone
isn't patting their head and telling them they're fabulous
enough. I just find that kind of emotional self-indulgence
really pathetic during a time when people really need to
be reaching inside of themselves and pulling their inner
strengths forward for the betterment of the world, the country,
their neighborhoods, their families, their jobs. Like I
said, I'm all for being supportive when someone is having
a bad day, but there is such thing as being an enabler when
someone really needs to buck up, and I think that enabling
read some of your other interviews and you come across as
a very positive person. After listening to Red Lodge, I
can easily see your dark side. What do you have to say to
your fans that are used to a more upbeat Danielle Egnew?
I would say that I'm human, just like they are, and sometimes
it rains in my corner of the world just like everybody else's.
the dark overtones in Red Lodge a marketing decision, to
angle the album toward more edgy subjects?
Absolutely not. This album just poured out of me, and it's
where I was at, at the time. It's some of the most raw work
I've done in a long time. Well, content wise anyway.
must confess that your song Erased is the most
heart-wrenching ballad I've ever heard. It was almost uncomfortable
to listen to. Are you concerned as an artist that this album
will be too exposing?
Exposing? Like, as in, people will know what I really feel
like or think? No, I'm not worried about any of that, because
I think that makes for a great song, but then again, I don't
think I see the album as being nearly as dark as you do.
not dark, what would you call it?
I'd say it's just emotionally involved in places. But I'm
not sure I think of that involvement as dark. To me, dark
is like Marilyn Manson, or Type O Negative, or any of that
growly grind core where they're eating body parts on stage
as part of the show.
think most people would classify that type of stage show
as theatrics, and a woman choosing to be run down by a train
Oh. Really? Okay. Well, then I guess by your definition,
the album is kind of dark. But I still think Marilyn Manson
is scarier than I am.
you self-identify as an intense writer?
Um…I guess not in that respect. I mean, I've been
told that before, so I guess there's some truth to it.
label seems to make you nervous.
(Pause) Nervous? I…well, no, not really nervous. I
mean, okay, maybe a little, because I'm repeating you like
a parrot, and that doesn't sound very intelligent, now,
does it? Here's the deal, it's just weird when people see
something in you all the time that you don't see yourself.
I hear this intensity thing a lot, and I don't see myself
as predominantly intense per se, but I keep hearing about
it, so unless everybody's lying, it must be true.
do you see yourself?
Well, I see myself as maybe thorough, or maybe hyper-focused
or overly detail oriented sometimes. Maybe a little overly-scrutinous?
Is that even a word? I can get intense sometimes, but I
think anyone with any semblance of grey matter and a decent
sense of passion can be intense sometimes, and I think the
word gets over-used in artistic circles, so maybe that's
my hang-up with it. We all know that one Emo girl who walks
in and she's wearing all black, and her whole identity is
that 'one intense artist chick', and I know a million of
those girls, and I just don't see myself like that. I don't
think they'd see me like that, either! (laughs) Mostly I
see myself as rather dorky, and under-organized, actually.
I don't think your fans would agree.
Well God bless their hearts! I've got the best fans on the
lyrics often times go uncommented on in the shadow of your
music and your spectacular voice, yet your lyrical poetry
has always been some of the best out there. What is your
process for choosing the words to your songs?
Oh, thanks! I love lyrics. Actually, there really isn't
much of a process, they more or less just pop out with the
music. Like a lot of artists, I write when I really have
something on my mind or my heart that I need to work though,
and I do have a bit of an obsessive compulsive need to have
the lyrics metered. I could never write lyrics like Alanis
Morisette who does a lot of off-cadence and off-stress pronunciations
in order to make the words work with the melody line. I
have a natural attraction to internal rhymes and allegories,
and that's a big part of my writing style. I do have a really
wonky sense of humor, too, and that comes out in my more
Country and Americana stuff.
thank you for talking to me today, and I think Red Lodge
Well thank you so much, and thank you for having me! And
stay off the railroad tracks (laughs).
Danielle Egnew is a gifted musical artist, producer,
actress, writer, and radio host. To learn more about Danielle's
latest music, video, film and TV projects, visit her official