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Music + Activism PledgeMusic Interview

hey all, PledgeMusic just posted a little interview i did with them about the new album and my activism work.

here’s the link:

or read on below:

Erin McKeown is a songwriter, musician, performer and political activist all bundled into one high-energy and change-inducing personality. A graduate of Brown University and the inhabitant of a small cabin in Western Massachusetts, McKeown lets her music inform her social stance and vice versa.

As she’s gained a musical following, the alternative/folk rocker has also become known for her political activism and her work lobbying on Capitol Hill about issues surrounding technology, music and policy.

“Lobbying on Capitol Hill is actually not as crazy as it sounds,” she explains. “Anyone can walk into their senator or representative’s office and request a meeting. You are a constituent; they have to be available to you! And you don’t need permission to go to a congressional office building. You just have to go through a metal detector. I’d like to demystify this process and get more people involved. Shouldn’t we be? It’s our government.”

McKeown is a public supporter of the Media Action Grassroots Network, which she’s also supporting through her recently launched Pledge campaign. MAG-Net is an advocacy network of grassroots community organizations that work together for media change to do things like end poverty, eliminate racism and ensure human rights.

“It’s important to me to pair these macro actions in DC with micro actions locally. I use the Internet all the time – for everything, which is how most of us are,” McKeown explains. “But we just assume it’s like water; it’s just there. Actually, there are lots of folks who are controlling our ‘drinking supply,’ so I think asking questions, advocating for fair access, keeping processes around the web transparent is a huge social justice issue.”

Currently working on her ninth studio album, which is her second to self-produce, McKeown is engaging her fans through a PledgeMusic campaign. For this record, she has been working with 16 musicians in nine studios over the past year, though she’s waiting to announce her musical guests via Pledge later on in the campaign.

While she’s not pulling back the curtain on that one, she does offer a couple hints about the new project, giving away that pieces of the record have been recorded in Brooklyn, New York; Durham, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Oakland, California; Western Massachusetts and Cambridge, UK.

“This set of songs is really about conversions, about internal changes becoming external actions,” she says. “I feel like this is the core of activism and a very sincere place to make music from.”

In addition to helping her release and promote her new record, McKeown’s fans are also rallying around to help her record her first-ever music video, though the talent says she thinks it’s totally ridiculous that she hasn’t recorded one before now, saying, “I’ve been on so many labels that just didn’t think it was worth the money, which of course makes no sense in the YouTube age. I’d rather tell a story with pictures to accompany, right? So I’m so, so excited to make this happen with the help of my Pledgers.”

If you want to catch McKeown live, you can check out any one of her videos in her Cabin Fever series, where she does live videos from her little cabin. The show, which the artist herself describes as “’Wayne’s World’ meets ‘The Judy Garland Show,’” has a huge energy and beautifully melds music and humor. McKeown says the idea came to her in the spring of ’09 when she was trying to brainstorm ideas for raising money for an upcoming album.

“One of [my friends] suggested Skyping with fans and selling ‘tickets,’ and I just ran with it from there,” she remembers. “I do actually live in a small cabin in Western Mass, and so far every episode – including the one where we are actually in the river – has been done at my place. I think one of the coolest exclusives I’m offering is the opportunity to do one of these from your house.”

As she looks to 2012, McKeown has a Pledge campaign (which already surpassed 100 percent of its goal) and a new record to keep her busy. Plus, she says, “I’ve got a wonderful thing going with my activism, carving out a nice spot to bring artists’ concerns into rooms where we are often left out.”

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