Butterfly Boucher Interview

Spreading Her Wings:
Butterfly Boucher

Butterfly Boucher is an Australian singer/songwriter who is currently touring with Sarah McLachlan. She has great songwriting skills, and can play multiple instruments. Her debut album, “Flutterby,” is out now on A&M Records. Butterfly called from L.A. to talk about being signed, her childhood and making songs like puzzles.

What was the experience like living in the Australian Outback?
I loved it. I loved growing up there, but we spent a lot of the time in the cities as well. It was kind of a mixture, sometimes being in the Outback and sometimes being in cities and small towns. I love the Outback, it’s so huge and you feel so tiny. There is something amazing about that. I loved my childhood, it was great; it’s still great. I’m still a kid.

Was it hard growing up with six sisters?
It was hard to know because I know no different. I love all of my sisters dearly. I mean, we fight like any other family. I had so many sisters to play with it was kind of a luxury. When you get bored with one you move on to another one. And we could play games ’cause there was a lot of us. We were always making up new games, or plays and stuff like that.

You created the layout for your CD. Is art a big hobby for you?
Yeah, its always been something else I do as well. In the times that I’ve been frustrated with music I’ve come to fall back on painting, or sculpting, or designing furniture. It is a huge other part of what I do. [Art] is really an extension of how I express myself. I went with music because I felt that was the thing I was most confident in, and the strongest thing I might be able to make a career out of.

How has this tour been going?
Really good, so far. It’s been about a week and a bit now, but it’s been brilliant. The audiences have just kind of embraced my stuff; it’s been fantastic. I’m quite different from Sarah. She was actually saying this the other day, that there is basically something there that connects. There is some running theme in our music.

You both seem to write personal stuff.
Yeah, that could be it. I think you’re getting it.

Is it hard being an opening act?
No, I haven’t found it hard at all. I just go out there and do my thing; I don’t really think about it too much. If they don’t like it, they don’t like it. Lucky for me, most of the audiences have been loving it. Also, they’ve been buying the CD, which is blowing my mind. I’ve been selling CDs like they’re going out of fashion. Means that I’m making a good impression on them.

What’s the craziest thing that’s happened on the road this tour?
Nothing that crazy has happened yet on this tour. Somebody bought four CDs last night, so that’s pretty great. Although, I was telling them onstage that they need to buy ten each.

That’s good, you need to get out there and promote!
[Laughs] I’m doing a fine job of that. Half my show is a CD pitch at the moment. It’s been a lot of fun, and this tour I’ve got a band out. I’m really excited to have my own band

Is this your first time taking your own band on the road?
This is the first time. I did a tour early on in the year, and that was just me and guitar in arenas as well. The band is way more what I wanted in terms of just that bigger sound.

Do you feel more comfortable with a band?
I still break it down. I still do one song by myself onstage. it gives people the extremely personal thing where it’s just me on guitar. But, I think the songs are better as a band. I think with all of the extra little hooks and backing vocals, it just adds to what my initial idea was.

Do you have a favorite track off of “Flutterby?”
I really like “A Walk Outside.” I was pretty happy about that one; coming into the studio with the guitar bit, but having all of the drum bits in my head and the bass. It really just came out sounding exactly like I wanted it to. I was really happy with it and proud of it.

Because you grew up playing multiple instruments do you find it easier to create music?
Well, I guess so. I mean there’s really nothing holding me back. I’d be really frustrated if I couldn’t express myself. If I was just a singer, I would be so frustrated [laughs]. I’d be like ‘No, I kind of want this on the guitar.’ This is half the reason why I do play everything and I learn to play everything. It’s because I want the album to get the sounds out of my head, and it was too frustrating to explain to people what that sound is. It is never going to be the same as if I do it, because I’m different, and they’re different. That’s how I always ended up recording my own stuff, because I had it down in my head, I knew how to play these instruments ’cause I taught myself. It’s a real gift to play everything rather than taking five more hours to explain it to somebody else.

Do you have a certain creative process for making music?
I usually start with a guitar riff or some little pattern of chords, and then I kind of go from there. Usually my lyrics are the last thing to go onto a song. For years and years I only ever did instrumental, so I’m still trying to get confidant with my lyrics and find the right balance. I’ll generally get inspired from the music. I’ll have a guitar line, and then I’ll have a melody line, and I hook the lyrics up to fit that rhythm. So, my lyrics to tend be very rhythmic as well. They work with the music rather than the music works around them.

Do you have a favorite topic to write about?
Not really. I actually find it hard to come up with really good ideas lyrically. I like to make songs personal, but I don’t want to make them so personal that only I would understand what I’m talking about. I don’t like to make them too cryptic. I, personally, love it when there’s a song and it’s like a puzzle, and you’ve got to try and figure out what they’re talking about. I try to find that balance, using mixed up words, but they do make sense.

What do you feel is the most puzzling song on the album?
I spent forever on the verses of “A Beautiful Book,” and I kind of went overboard in making those verses like a puzzle. The tree that wanted to be a beautiful book, and I went on and on about all of these different things…sand becomes glass and blah, blah. I took a long time on that, and I think I made the chorus overly simple as well. It was so way, obviously, straight ahead simple because I was concerned that I had gone overboard on the verse.

How long did you spend on ‘A Beautiful Book?’
I picked it up and put it down for about a month. I was writing a lot in that time. I’ve got songs I’ve still been working on for quite awhile. I don’t really write songs unless there’s a reason to record them. I write a song, and then within four months I’m like ‘That’s old! I can’t use that!’ So, I’m stuck with some half-finished songs that I can pick up again.

Are you always trying to work on new material to keep new songs out there?
I think it’s healthy to do that as an artist. I haven’t written songs for quite a long time actually, since I finished the album, which was about two years ago. I only just recently started up again with ideas. It’s kind of difficult, because I went straight from recording the album into getting signed, and really having to learn the ropes of the business. [I became] much more removed from the music. But also, I was doing the CD artwork and directing the videos too. It was kind of all busy.

Did you feel a loss of freedom after being signed?
There’s positives and negatives to being signed to a label, or not being signed to a label. I was really happy with the fact that I had finished the album and recorded it before we shopped it to labels. I really got to make the album that I felt I wanted to make. I wanted to do the best kind of album for a debut album. I didn’t want to be too arty-farty, I wanted to have an album that could be on radio. I wasn’t signed, and I had way more freedom. I honestly think that if I was signed while I recorded the album, there’s no way they would’ve let me play all of those instruments. They would’ve gone, ‘We’re not paying $1000 a day for this studio for you to play around on your little drum!’ I was lucky, and I would encourage anybody who feels confidently that they know what kind of album they want to make to do it first. On the interest of the album, I was connected with the labels that were interested. Basically, I picked the label that least wanted to change stuff on the album. That was kind of a luxury. I was like, ‘Do you want to change it?’ They were like, ‘No, we just want to mix it. We’ll just get a great mixer.’ I was like, ‘This is so perfect.’ Other labels were like, ‘We’re not sure if you’ve got the hit single.’ I’m like, ‘Forget it.’ I’m really confident in this album, I’m proud of it.

What type of album were you trying to create?
I’d been in a band forever and ever, and I was really frustrated. I just wanted to make a fresh album, a new album with new songs that I had just written. There’s a Cyndi Laupher album called, “She’s So Unusual,” and she had like five singles off her album. I always thought that was amazing. You put the album on, and you’re like, ‘I know this song, I know this song too!”  You know the whole album! I’m just like, ‘I want an album like that.’ You put on every song, and you want to sing along or you want to sing the drum part. I just wanted it to be one of those albums. I didn’t want it to be in your face, I didn’t want it to be too quiet, I just wanted it to be a summer album. [I wanted to create] an album for the summertime, but hopefully for the winter as well. I wanted an album that would last through time as well. I really tried to steer clear of anything that would date it. Like, ‘Oh gosh, that’s so early 2000.’ I kind of stuck to pretty normal instruments: piano, xylophone and drums. I didn’t really do it wacky.

Who were some of your musical influences growing up?
Yeah, I really did. I listened to a bunch of stuff. I grew up listening to radio sometimes, but also Dad’s record collection was pretty good. He had B-52s, Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC, quite a variety of stuff. Of course, The Cure, Depeche Mode, PJ Harvey. I really love Elvis Costello, and Peter Gabriel and Suzanne Vega. There are quite a mix of people I listen to, I try not to copy; that’s like the worst thing in my book. I try to be inspired that there are people out there who are making original music, but it’s also poppy, and you hear it on the radio.

Describe yourself in three words.
[Laughs] Creative, shy, funny. I feel like I’ve got a huge ego! Just put down to Earth.

For more info on Butterfly Boucher, check out her website: www.butterflyboucher.com

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