Exclusive Interview with Libby Koch
Why country music ?
~ I fell in love with country music at a young age. Pretty much straight from the crib my dad introduced me to Texas outlaw artists like Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Willie Nelson (I still have his copy of Red Headed Stranger on vinyl)! Growing up in Houston, Texas, I saw the honky tonk acts like Gary P. Nunn at Gruene Hall and Crider's in the summer, and each February we'd see all the big country stars play the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo in the Astrodome...Dolly Parton, George Strait, Alabama, Reba...you name it, they were there! So I was hooked on that kind of music early on, so when I started making music myself it was natural to "go country."
If everything would be possible (waking the dead included) , which two people should sing the ultimate country duet?
~ George Jones and Patsy Cline are two of my very favorite country singers of all time. I don't believe they ever sang a duet together, but wouldn't that be something? If anyone knows of a time they did a duet together, please let me know!!
What song you ever recorded means the most to you and why?
~ My 2014 record, Tennessee Colony, was comprised of a series of songs about family and home...several of the songs were about stories my grandfather told me when I was growing up. I was very close to my grandfather (we called him Daddy Gene), and I wrote a song called Naomi (which is my grandmother, Nana's, name) about their lives and love story. I think that's definitely the most personal and meaningful song I've ever written - so much so that it was hard to play it in public for a long time after I wrote it!
Who would you like to write a song for you?
~ This is tough, because I'm surrounded by incredible songwriters that I am lucky to play songs with and sometimes even co-write songs with, but I'd have to say the pipe dream would be to work with Dean Dillon, who wrote most of George Strait's hits...what a brilliant songwriter. I think it is really challenging to write songs that are catchy, fun, and memorable but still have meaning and don't get watered down lyrically. That takes not just talent but skill.
What is the one thing that readers/fans would be surprised to know about you?
~ Probably that I'm also a lawyer! I went to law school at Vanderbilt in Nashville and practiced at a large law firm in Houston for 5 years before I decided to pursue music full time. The funny thing is that I most likely wouldn't be playing music professionally now had I not gone to law school...my time spent in Nashville for school exposed me to great songwriters, musicians, and performers who convinced me I could and should pursue music!
Give us one country song you never want to hear on radio anymore and tell us why.
~ Like a lot of traditional country music fans, I'm pretty worn out with nearly every song on big country radio talking about trucks, whiskey, sugar shakers and all of that noise. There's just a lot of sameness of lyrics and sound that has become really monotonous to me. So if I never heard a song like Honky Tonk Badonkadonk again, that would be totally cool! Look, I'm all for artists making the music they want to make, and I'm certainly guilty of writing songs about whiskey, but it would really fire me up if mainstream country radio played more of the stuff I'm hearing on the indie Americana and Texas circuits, where the songs are still art, not products.
What is the question interviewers never seem to ask you and...you wish they would? (Please provide your answer as well.)
~ Hmm...this is tough, but I think one thing that I'd like to express in every interview if I could is how grateful and honored I am to have the opportunity to do this for a living. Writing and performing music all over the US (and soon Europe) was a seemingly unattainable dream when I was a kid, but somehow that dream has come true! I wouldn't be able to to what I do without my family and friends who have been so supportive, and I'm eternally indebted to every songwriter, artist, producer, business connection, and fan who has given me a shot along the way and helped me get better.
Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ I'm a total studio nerd and love learning about all the recording gear. I think for me the ultimate studio is someplace that has some history to it though. We recorded Just Move On at Studio 19 in Nashville, which was built by Elvis Presley's incredible guitarist Scotty Moore, who recently passed away. Artists like Dolly Parton and Vince Gill have recorded there, and you can absolutely feel that history - it just hangs in the air somehow. So for me, the ultimate would be to record in one of the RCA studios in Nashville or maybe Sun Studios in Memphis, where the songs that were recorded there and the artists who played and sang them just permeate the aura of the place and hopefully bring some of their magic to your songs too!
Johnny or June ?
~ I think Johnny Cash is one of the greatest country music artists and entertainers of all time, period. But I don't think he would've been who he was without June...they were a team on the stage and off. So maybe that isn't a complete answer but I don't want to choose one or the other - I love them both!
Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any "rituals" to calm you nerves.
~ I don't get nervous anymore unless it's a really big show...that said, I completely lose my appetite before pretty much every show, which I'm sure is displaced nerves! I do have quite a few pre-show rituals though, most of which revolve around my vocal warm ups. My band members and my boyfriend are subjected to and make fun of all the crazy vocal trills, scales, and exercises that I'm constantly adding to the mix! As a singer who performs several shows a week though, it's so important to keep my voice healthy by doing all that crazy stuff!
What was the most memorable day in your musical career and tell us why.
~ We tracked most of this record in 2 days at Studio 19 (the vocals, fiddle and a few other instruments were recorded later), and the second day of that recording process was probably the most memorable day of my music career thus far. My producer, Bil VornDick, brought in a group of ridiculously good Nashville studio musicians to work on this project - Bruce Dees, Sonny Garrish, Bobby Ogdin, Glenn Worf, Lynn Williams, and Bob Williams all tracked the record live as a band. It was a total rush working with those guys who are absolute pros and have worked on the regular with all my heroes (Dolly, George Jones, Elvis, George Strait, Mark Knoppfler, Marty Robbins, etc.). So the first day of recording, I was probably too nervous to truly enjoy the process, but the second day we really hit our stride and it was probably the most fun I've ever had in my life. The guys had never heard any of the songs before, so when we started on a new song we'd pass out the chord chart and I'd play it through one time. Then the band would talk through the intro, outro, and solos, fire up and start recording. We cut 8 songs that second day, and at least half of those were cut in one take! At one point Bruce Dees (who was Ronny Millsap's band leader for 20+ years) and Sonny Garrish (who's in the steel guitar hall of fame) were marveling over how long it had been since they'd played that much real country music on a session. You could knock me over with a feather. What a day.
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Answers given on july 18, 2016
Photos by Nicola Gell Photography