An Interview with Esme
I recently caught up with jet-setting (van-sitting?) Denver local Esme Patterson for a few questions about her upcoming solo album. Here’s what we had to say.
RvD: Esme, I was lucky enough to make it to your solo album release show a few weeks ago. Very impressive—not just the playing, but also the orchestration that went into the performance. Sheet music and the whole deal. How did that come to be? Did you transcribe the parts yourself?
EP: I wrote most of the arrangements. Roger Green, the producer, wrote a few and we wrote out the charts for the musicians together (he, certainly doing the lion’s share). Carrie Beeder wrote a string arrangement, as did Tyler Ludwick; what ended up happening was that my imagination always had these songs in technicolor, far more orchestrated and glowing than I could produce myself. So, I called in a lot of favors from dear friends and friends of friends, and we (producer Roger) and I didn’t limit ourselves with thinking about what was actually possible or reasonable. Somehow it all came off!
I couldn’t help but notice how many Denver musicians were on stage with you for that performance. Did they all contribute to the record as well?
Everyone who played at the release had recorded on the album. Not everyone who recorded on the album played at the release though. Carrying that off would have been too crazy, even for me.
I would almost call what you created to be a sort of Denver super group. Seems like an unusual way to do a solo album. What was your reasoning?
Well, no man is an island. I feel lucky to have such a rich artistic community in Denver to draw from. A lot of the musicians that played on the album are people very dear to me that I have been playing music with for years and years, and there would be holes in the orchestration that I would feel that a particular person could fill.
So clearly you enjoy the community aspect of music. Yet you’ve already found success that way with Paper Bird, so what made you want to strike out on your own?
I have so many songs that started overflow past the limits of Paper Bird. I wanted to try my hand at playing my own songs, playing guitars, changing the phrasing and melody everytime, and being more free with my expression.
What was the most rewarding part of making this album—first personally and then musically?
Personally, that it was pretty terrifying. I am very naked and honest in this album, and it has helped me heal in a lot of ways. Musically, working with orchestration—especially a string quartet. That has been a hunger of mine for some time.
Do you think you’ll continue writing for release under your own name?
Why not? Although no one can ever pronounce it right.
That makes me really curious how you pronounce it.
Last question: is there anything you’ve always wanted to be asked ask in an interview? Anything that you’ve always wanted in an article but haven’t been able to say?
What’s your worst vice, maybe? Gambling. I love to gamble.