Elaine Greer is a songwriter from Texas. She plays guitar, ukulele, and piano. The music plays with different kinds of sounds while still maintaining strong melodies and pop sensibility. She has released an EP ("Making Plans and Going Places", 2009) and a full-length album ("Annotations", released June 2011, produced by Grammy award winner Steve Christensen). In the Summer of 2011, Elaine and her band embarked upon their first national tour, hitting spots from Denton to Providence and returning to record their first Daytrotter session. Elaine is now living in Nashville, Tennessee and getting ready to release her first 7" record in early 2014.
Elaine Greer - Vocals, Guitar
Yola Blake - Vocals, keys, Percussion, glockenspiel
Marc Hoegg - Bass
Daniel Forderhase - Viola
Will Wolfe - Drums
Released June 24th, 2011
Engineered/mixed by Steve Christensen at
SugarHill Studios/The TreeHouse
Mastered at The Lodge, NY
Making Plans and Going Places (EP)
Released May 2009
Engineered by Joe Weber
Mixed by Steve Christensen
Mastered by Allen Corneau at Essential Sound
Bridges/Predisposed (Houston Summer Exposure Compilation)
Released May 2009
91.7 KOOP/KVRX Austin
90.1 KUT Austin
91.7 KTRU Houston
91.7 KRTU San Antonio
89.9 KTSW San Marcos
Elaine Greer is MusicZeitgeist.com's July 2011 Indie Artist of the Month
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Twenty-three-year-old Austin-based female singer-songwriter Elaine Greer produces winsome, meticulou...Twenty-three-year-old Austin-based female singer-songwriter Elaine Greer produces winsome, meticulously crafted, harmony-infused leids that stand out from the glut of cute-vocal-ed, self-conscious indie fare populating the seeded playlists of the up-and-comer elite in 2011.
Based on early lo-fi recordings made at her apartment, Greer landed opening spots for such indie darlings as The Fiery Furnaces, Tilly and the Wall, and Tim Barry.
The follow up to her 2009 EP release “Making Plans and Going Places,” is “Annotations” (launched June 30th, 2011) her first full-length album co-produced with Steve Christensen (who won a Grammy for Steve Earle’s “Townes”,) that comprises recordings made at SugarHill Studios/The TreeHouse in Houston and at her apartment in Austin, TX. “Annotations” was mastered at The Lodge in NYC.
“I’ve been working on this project for about 6 years now, starting from when I began writing songs in my teen years,” Greer says of this canon of songs. “I initially did many lo-fi home recordings and began playing local shows, eventually getting into the studio to record Making Plans and Going Places.”
Greer has already begun planning work on her next album on which she begins work in August, most of which has already been written. If all goes according to plan, our greedy ear-holes we will be blessed with a new Elaine Greer release in early 2012.
The band has just completed an East coast tour taking them from Austin to Providence, RI and upon returning home, barely took a breath before recording their first Daytrotter session with a homecoming gig at Austin’s Cactus Cafe.
The band plans to tour the West coast in winter 2011 though dates have to be confirmed. look out for Elaine Greer live dates in Austin throughout the month of August, 2011.
Elaine Greer - Annotations (Independently released CD, Pop)
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Cool, smart, resilient, inventive pop from Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter Elaine Greer. We've...Cool, smart, resilient, inventive pop from Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter Elaine Greer. We've said this plenty of times in the past but it's worth repeating. At this point in time there are so many talented musical artists in the world that there simply aren't enough listeners and fans to support them all. As a result, that means that some truly outstanding folks seem to be unfairly toiling away in the undercurrents. Greer is certainly one of those virtually unknown artists who is so good that it seems kinda crazy that she isn't already a major celebrity. The songs on Annotations feature wonderful winding melodies, cool vocal work, and superb arrangements. A great deal of time was obviously spent writing and recording these songs...and the acute attention to detail shows. Although Elaine plays many of the instruments on this album several friends and/or guest artists are also featured. We've played this CD about ten times so far...and it just keeps sounding better every time. Nifty cuts include "Wave," "Everything Works Out," "I Don't Know Why," and "It Rains, It Pours." Top pick.
Elaine Greer has the key to beautiful folk songs
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Elaine Greer is a singer-songwriter from Houston. She sings songs that could be described as folk, p...Elaine Greer is a singer-songwriter from Houston. She sings songs that could be described as folk, perhaps with a twinge of country thrown in for good measure. But more importantly, she sings songs that are good. They aren’t showy in the least, gently meandering along at their own pace, but they manage to make one hell of an impression.
Most of that impression is down to Greer’s voice. Fitting the style of the songs, it’s constantly bold, but constantly restrained. Sure, this is material from an EP. But it could just as easily be from someone sitting alone in their bedroom. Every now and again a slight musical flourish from a piano or a vocal harmony pops in that reminds us this is a properly produced song. But it doesn’t really need it.
Texas Platters- Elaine Greer: Annotations
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In Austin's the Sour Notes, Elaine Greer is a quietly compelling figure floating amid lush layers of...In Austin's the Sour Notes, Elaine Greer is a quietly compelling figure floating amid lush layers of the band's indie-pop cool. For her solo CD, Annotations, she doesn't necessarily veer from that form, but its sharp vignettes read like footnotes to her life, hence the title. And if Greer's tone isn't strident, neither is she a shy violet. Such songs as "Everything Works Out," "Can't Go Back," "Wave," and "It Rains, It Pours" are statements of the heart, soothing and optimistically sung in her clear, lingering voice. Annotations' silky, often delicately acoustic instrumentation imbues every track with gentleness and warmth. "Put small fires out with your hands," she advises on "Small Fires," knowing that if getting burned is part of the risk, healing and a tougher skin are part of the lesson.
Made in Austin: Elaine Greer
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Houston-native, Elaine Greer has been basking in Austin Music Scene lime-light for a short while now...Houston-native, Elaine Greer has been basking in Austin Music Scene lime-light for a short while now. Performing in her own solo project and along with Austin-based band, The Sour Notes, Greer’s music is gaining momentum. Her debut full-length album, Annotations, will be released June 30, and Elaine Greer will be leaving to tour on July 1. In the midst of all of the chaos and momentum, Greer was generous enough to sit down with Red River Noise to discuss an array of things regarding her inspiration, how her album came together, the interesting way she came across award-winning record engineer, Steve Christensen, and her personal experience being a female solo artist.
What resulted in your decision to move from Houston to Austin?
Greer: Part of it was that I was in a relationship with someone that lived in Austin, but that is a little bit of it, not the whole reason. I grew up in Houston for my entire life, and I was kind of stumbling around now knowing what to do with my life-- going to school, not really knowing what I wanted to major in or what I wanted to do-- So, part of it was sort of rebellion for me. I was thinking "I want to go to another city and do everything". At first it was kind of lame because I didn't have any friends, but now it has gotten a lot better, and I couldn't be happier with the decision.
What inspires you as an artist?
Greer: Really what inspires me the most tends to be experiences that I have in life. Those are the things that will make me sit down and write a song. If something happens that for some reason or another moves me in some sort of direction or makes me feel something, then that's potential songwriting material for me. But, I am trying to expand on the things I write about, because no one has that much to write about themselves. I guess I would say regular life things.
It has been about 2 years since your first EP, Making Plans and Going Places, in 2009-- how have you grown as an artist since then, and what do you now do differently?
Greer: Some of the main differences are, when I first made that EP, I was playing in a band in Houston at the time. We had kind of come up with sound arrangements for that EP, so it was kind of a band's project. Also, they had a lot of influence on how that ended up sounding. Also, I was writing songs differently then, because my band was a bit louder, so I was kind of writing in a way that accommodated that. At that time I was playing acoustic guitar, and now I am playing an electric guitar. These songs are a lot more intricate, with a lot more finger picks. Whenever I worked on this album in the studio, I went in to do the vocals and the guitar first, before everything else and then layered everything else after that. So, it was more of a solo effort; there weren't that many people involved in it. I guess that is more on the technical side of things.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a solo artist?
Greer: I think it is always more of a challenge performing as a solo artist on several levels. There is kind of a stereotype, and people are like "Oh, you're a singer-songwriter."-- and they automatically put you into a group and automatically assume what your sound is, and what they think you do. I feel like my music is a little different from the typical singer-songwriter in the folk scene. That's always frustrating, because I'll say "I'm a singer-songwriter", and they'll blow me off. Ontop of that, there is having to do everything by yourself. If you're in a band situation, everyone feels equal parts and responsibility for making things happen. For me, I have to do all of those things alone, and that can be really frustrating. Also, if I'm playing a solo show, it is harder to get people's attention than if I'm playing with a band. I like playing both kinds of shows, though.
What are some advantages and disadvantages on being a female musician?
Greer: It is a weird place to be. There is this assumption when I get up on stage, as a female musician with a guitar, people assume that you're not going to be that good. People think I'm just going to get up there and strum a couple of chords. Just the other day I had someone say "Wow, you're actually pretty good at the guitar for a girl." I was really offended and he didn't understand why I was. There are things like that a lot. Egotistical dude musicians don't realize girls have just as much ability to be great at music. That's really frustrating dealing with that stereotype that I'm not going to be as good. The benefit of it is that if you are good, people are even more impressed that you can shred on guitar. People just assume you're up there to look cute, but now I'm like "No, this is my project and I did everything for this project." It is frustrating, and I feel like people think that you're not taking this seriously or something, which makes no sense.
Tell me about performing with The Sour Notes and having your own solo project. Does that experience contribute to your solo music?
Greer: It does, because between the two bands I am playing constantly. That helps, because a day can't go by where I'm not practicing with one of the bands, or songwriting with one of the bands. I'm singing every single day and also, playing with The Sour Notes, I'm playing parts that I would never really get to play with my band. It's totally different kinds of music. It really does help expand upon the things that I can do. Also, there is kind of a trade off going on, because Jared from The Sour Notes, is currently playing with my band, and I'm playing in his band. I think there is kind of an understanding between us. Each of our projects are the most important to us, but it's kind of like "Okay, I'll give you my time and musical talents, and you give me yours too. It keeps us busy and works out well.
Annotations, will be released on June 30, and I read that your debut album was created in a series of places, such as Steve Christensen's apartment, Sugarhill Studios, and your place here in Austin-- what was it like writing and recording the album?
Greer: I think that is part of why it took so long. I started it in Houston when I was still living there and transitioning to Austin. I started recording it in Steve Christensen's apartment-- The Tree House-- where had a studio set up and everything. We did some of the basic track recordings. Then, we went to Sugarhill Studios and did some piano parts because they had some pianos there. Then, since I was living in Austin and the commuting kind of hard for me, I ended up doing most of the over-dubs in my apartment. Steve lent me this microphone and I rented some stuff from Rock N' Roll Rentals, and ended up recording a lot of the album by myself. I recorded the viola by myself.
Why did you decide to work with Steve Christensen from Sugarhill Studios to record your first EP and, now, your debut album?
Greer: He mixed my first EP. I had recorded it elsewhere. He came highly recommended in Houston. I had a lot of friends that worked with him, and everyone liked him a lot. So, I guess I had decided to try it out. I really liked working with him. One day, at the Houston Press Music Awards thing, we were in the artist lounge taking free shots, and I was like "We're going to make this album together, and it's going to be awesome!". Really, that's how it happened. I knew that I had a lot of stuff I wanted to start recording, and initially I was just going to do another EP, but I had so many songs and I was writing so much throughout that time, that it just turned into an album. I really like working with Steve a lot; he's a really awesome person to work with. He's super laid back. By the end of it, I felt like he was not only my engineer, but also my therapist. "Steve, let me tell you all my problems."
You’re headed on tour at the end of this week-- what are you most excited about in regards of touring?
Greer: I don't know. I'm really excited to go on tour again, I've only gone once, and it was with The Sour Notes. I'm really excited to be taking my own music on tour. It's going to be a bit hectic, because I will be playing twice everyday/night, but that's what I really want to do. I figure it will be a good exercise and I'll see if I can do this all the time. It's always really fun; I've always loved traveling around. I get really stir-crazy when I'm in one place for too long. So, being on tour is really fun because everyday there's something new to see and new people to meet.
It looks like your headed in a successful direction. With your new album coming out this week, and a tour starting on July 1, what kind else can we expect from you in the near future?
Greer: Quite a bit, I'm hoping. Once you get that momentum going, you don't want to lose it. I plan on continuing to play a lot. I already have half of the new album written, so I'm probably going to start recording when we get back. I really want to be productive and get new things out. When you fall off the radar for awhile, you have to pick it all back up again. I already have all of these new songs that I'm excited to start playing. So, definitely going to start working on new songs and recording.
The Basement Tapes: Elaine Greer
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Singer-songwriter Elaine Greer’s light, airy voice, winsome melodies and slight country twang has ea...Singer-songwriter Elaine Greer’s light, airy voice, winsome melodies and slight country twang has earned her serious critical praise in Houston: She was nominated in 2009 for Best Female Vocalist for the Houston Press Music Awards. Greer, now based in Austin, has also opened for The Fiery Furnaces, Tilly and the Wall and Tim Barry. Her first EP, Making Plans and Going Places, featuring a cleaner mix of her breathy vocals was released in 2009. Her debut album, Annotations, will be released on June 30 and she is setting out on an American cross-country tour in July.
Greer will be performing twice on Sunday at Hole in the Wall for the Follow that Bird! Tour Kickoff, once as the front-woman of her band and then with local band The Sour Notes. (See weekend recs)
The Texan interviewed Greer and fellow band member and UT alum, Yola Blake, about their upcoming tour, latest album, recent show at Free Press Summer Fest in Houston and choosing a new name for their band.
Daily Texan: I know you have been going solo for a while, has that changed?
Elaine Greer: I have two projects going on. One of them is my solo project. I'm playing with a new band with a new line-up of people here in Austin, including Yola. There's six of us so it is kind of a big band. Then I'm also in the band The Sour Notes. I used to be in it a while back and then I quit that band ‘cause I wanted to focus on solo stuff but now I'm with them again.
DT: So for your solo project, is the band's name going to remain "Elaine Greer?"
Greer: At this point, we've labored for hours trying to find a successful "and the 'name' " but no one can decide on anything yet.
DT: Are there any nouns standing out to you?
Greer: There's been some potential. Which one is your favorite?
Yola Blake: I don't know because we shot everything down. We did the "yellowbirds" for a while...
Greer: There was the "daylights." There was the “killer whales.” [laughs] There's been like a hundred thrown around by our friends, saying I've got it. Our drummer said the “magnets.” [laughs]
Blake: There's the “sapphires.”
Greer: And the “pickles.”
Blake: I like the “sapphires.”
Greer: Eh. I don't. [laughs] See, this is why we haven't decided. [laughs]
DT: So how was Summer Fest?
Greer: Summer Fest was hot. If I could describe it in one word it would be hot.
DT: Was it a lot different this year than last year?
Greer: I think it was. It was pretty different. I played the first year that they did it, and it was way different because they had only two stages that year and that was awesome, I thought, ‘cause they had a lot of local bands and that was what they were pushing. Now it has become a really huge thing with all of these bigger bands and all of the local bands kind of get pushed aside a little bit more. It is kind of a bummer. But it was fun, I guess. I just hate being hot. If I'm hot, I'm never happy.
DT: I've seen you play and sing during concerts with other local Houston bands such as the Wild Moccasins and the Young Mammals – even when they were the Dimes, what has that transition been like, being so known in Houston and moving to Austin?
Greer: It was really frustrating at first, because yeah, that scene was, you know, you go out and everyone is your friend. The Dimes, we played together since we were in high school and the Wild Moccasins and I had a lot of the same band members. So it was like one big collective family there. When I first moved here, it was kind of depressing because I was like I don’t know who to talk to, what to do, I don't know anyone here. So yeah, that was frustrating for me. We were talking about this earlier, ‘cause I'm so excited now ‘cause I have a lot of stuff going on. I think it just took a little bit longer to pick that up.
DT: What initially made you want to make that move?
Greer: There were a few factors. One of them was a relationship. Also, I've lived in Houston all of my life so being in that kind of place where you go to a bar and you know everyone there, I guess I didn't really like that so much? I kind of miss it sometimes, but at the time, it wasn't what I really wanted. I didn't know what steps to take and what to do. I guess I wanted to move somewhere that had a lot more opportunity and more bands. Austin has been so inspirational. I would say that the main parts of the move were more personal reasons.
DT: What was the inspiration behind Annotations?
Greer: Basically with the album, I started writing songs whenever I was transitioning from Houston to Austin, so there's a common element to those songs, that feeling of feeling displaced and lonely and being unfamiliar with your surroundings. They are all songs I wrote when I first moved to Austin. The name Annotations I came up with is ‘cause it just reminded me of annotations of things I think about in life. Like going through these day-to-day activities and these situations that are really awkward or weird or uncomfortable and it's my little side notes.
DT: So the band is going on tour in July, what are some of the cities you are just so ecstatic to visit and play?
Greer: New York is always exciting. We're going to be playing Providence, RI, which I heard is really cool. Chicago. We're playing in Akron, Ohio on the Fourth of July for the Fourth of July bash so that should be cool.
DT: What are you packing?
Blake: Oh my gosh, we were just talking about this.
Greer: I was like I think I'm just going to bring all summer dresses and just roll them up so I can like fit 12 in there. [laughs]
Blake: [laughs] I was like I guess I'll bring accessories so I can wear the same thing every day, dress it up.
Greer: Girly girls on tour is always hard.
Elaine Greer's Favorite Swimming-Pool Songs
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Homesick? Not Elaine Greer. Not anymore. The waifish singer-songwriter and 2009 Houston Press Mus...Homesick? Not Elaine Greer. Not anymore.
The waifish singer-songwriter and 2009 Houston Press Music Award nominee for Best Female Vocals moved to Austin a couple of years back. After the usual adjustment period, she says she likes it "quite a bit."
"When I first moved here I found it overwhelming and confusing," she says, "but now things are going pretty well."
Annotations, Greer's first full-length CD, is made for summer nights around a campfire. Heavy with overdubs, recorded in Greer's apartment and Houston's Treehouse, its gentle melodies and lush harmonies mask the displacement and doubts of a young woman coming to terms with unfamiliar surroundings.
"A lot of the lyrics are me trying to give advice to my older self, if that makes sense," Greer says.
?It does. If you're into Jenny Lewis, Annotations will fit like a fuzzy sweater. Greer plays Fitzgerald's tonight with Hearts of Animals (who's been pretty quiet lately) and Trio Musette, yet another project of Sideshow Tramps/Grandfather Child/Robert Ellis & the Boys utilityman Geoffrey Muller. Considering all the words that have flown back and forth between Houston and Austin recently, Rocks Off asked Greer for some perspective on the two cities' music scenes.
"Houston's scene is smaller and more condensed, while Austin's scene is big and spread out and has a million different niches," she says. "It's easier to get recognized in Houston, but once you do get recognized in Austin there are more places to play and more opportunities. Both are nice in their own ways."
Fair enough. As it's the first weekend of summer, Rocks Off also asked Greer to share her favorite swimming-pool songs - not songs about swimming pools, but ones that remind her of lazy days under an umbrella with a cold drink and a good book. From the list she gave us, Annotations, which you can stream on her Web site, would fit right in.
The Beach Boys, "Wouldn't It Be Nice"
"And the rest of Pet Sounds. This album reminds me of summer and swimming."
Belle and Sebastian, "Asleep on a Sunbeam"
A cute song..."Another summer's passing by/ All I need is somewhere I feel the grass beneath my feet."
Camera Obscura, "Honey in the Sun," "Swans," "The Sweetest Thing"
"Most of the album My Maudlin Career is sweet, playful and upbeat. Definitely feel-good music without being substance-less. Perfect for swimming-pool days."
deathcab forbidden june24.jpg
?Death Cab For Cutie, "Photo Booth"
A song about a young reckless summertime relationship. Makes me feel lazy. I feel that swimming pools require laziness.
"'80s music and FUN go hand in hand, I believe..."
Neutral Milk Hotel, "Holland, 1945"
"This song always gets me pumped up and excited."
Priscilla Ahn, "Find My Way Back Home"
A pretty, dreamy ukulele song. Relaxing and happy."
Tristen, "Special Kind of Fear"
"I can't really explain this one, but I know that I would like to listen to this song while lying by a pool. Cool organ and vocals and feels carefree. And the rest of album Charlatans at the Garden Gate."
Elaine Greer's Debut Album Release! Tour Kick-Off with The Sour Notes!
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It makes me smile to see new Austin bands progress and grow. I was able to catch Elaine Greer at th...It makes me smile to see new Austin bands progress and grow. I was able to catch Elaine Greer at the Mohawk a few weeks ago, opening for Tristen, and absolutely loved her set. Shortly after I saw the show, I learned that she’s now gearing up for a tour with The Sour Notes AND she’s about to release her debut album. Not only that, but she’s releasing it at 29th Street Ballroom with a bunch of other amazing Austin bands in a Tour Kickoff Show!
A bit about Elaine Greer, she’s a singer-songwriter with a super tight backing band, and when they perform, it’s pretty much like watching a bunch of good friends having a great time together, which is so much fun to experience. Elaine has a 6 song EP from back in 2009 which I was able to listen to, and I must say it’s a delightful collection of earth toned folk with catchy melodies and hooks. I can only hope for more on her full length, entitled “Annotations” which will be released at the 29th Street Ballroom, one week from tomorrow (June 30th).
Another thing I am always refreshed to see is the strong sense of community our music scene has. When a band releases an album or goes on tour, it’s like every other band swarms in to help support them, and this is a perfect example. There will be seven other groups playing this release show, as well as a DJ (Ben Blackout) to really make this a special event. Of the seven groups is Elaine Greer’s touring partners, The Sour Notes:
Here’s the rundown of the bands and set times:
BAR STAGE -
9pm – Quin Galavis
10pm - The Sour Notes
11pm - Megafauna
12:15am - Pink Nasty
9:30pm – Monarchs
10:30pm – Agent Ribbons
11:30pm – Elaine Greer & Friends
12:45am – MaryAnn & The Revival Band
1am-2am DJ BEN BLACKOUT
Photobooth by Allison Narro sponsored by Bird’s Barbershop!
Also, there will be free pizza from Gatti’s Pizza, which sort of makes this the perfect event.
It’s $5 at the door, but if you RSVP here, you can get in for only $3!
Come support awesome Austin bands!
Elaine Greer unveils Plans
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Some bands can't wait to put out an album, often doing so before the kinks are worked out. Indie-pop...Some bands can't wait to put out an album, often doing so before the kinks are worked out. Indie-pop singer-songwriter Elaine Greer wanted to get it just right, which is why, after playing for thousands of people at tiny gigs and big ones (opening for Tilly and the Wall last summer, a few Westheimer Block Parties), she is just now releasing her first disc.
"I have had people for a couple of years ask when I'm putting out a CD," Greer says. "It took me a long time to release something because I had big dreams for it. I wanted strings, horns, a choir part!"
The resulting six-song EP, Making Plans and Going Places, was worth the wait. It's a distractingly pretty collection of folk-pop featuring Greer's uncomplicated coo and, yes, strings, horns and a choir part. Even the album art — a pastoral scene with a deep blue sky, a rainbow, fluffy clouds and gentle woodland creatures — is so pretty that it makes one sigh. It's a small slice of perfection.
"I'm glad I waited. I'm glad those are the songs that I recorded, which are better than the ones I was playing a couple of years ago."
Greer, merely 20 years old for a few more days, grew up memorizing the words to musical theater soundtracks (Grease, Phantom of the Opera and Rent, specifically.) She started her musical journey at Lamar High School, where her friends had bands and they all found Super Happy Fun Land a welcoming performance space to pretty much anyone. She says her first show at age 17 was "really bad."
"It was sloppy and I was timid and shy and singing really quietly and playing an electric guitar that was way louder than me. The only people there were the other bands," she says with a lilting giggle. In the ensuing four years, Greer says her songs have become more complex and she has found her confidence, but anyone who has seen her play knows it's a charming, humble kind of confidence.
"I've never been a diva type," she says, naming Neko Case as the kind of diva she can't quite relate to. "I've often wondered how I can become that, but it's never worked so I don't think I'll be headed in that direction anytime soon."
Greer's humility hasn't been a problem when trying to book shows, she says, but it can get in the way of working with the rest of Houston's indie-music scene, which, while it does have more girl power than the Houston music scene as a whole, is still merely peppered with women.
"I have had times when I haven't felt respected because I'm a girl or that people assume that I'm not going to be as good. What I've noticed more of is a lack of indie singer-songwriters who get noticed in Houston. With the band [Wild Moccasins' Andrew Ortiz on drums, News on the March's Austin Sepulvado on guitar and Travis Smith on bass] I feel like I get noticed a lot more than when I play solo shows. Sometimes I'm up there and everyone's talking and I'm like, 'why am I doing this?' I feel like the indie scene likes the upbeat kind of stuff that you can dance to."
It's always talk of Houston's irritating audiences that predates a move to greener pastures. Greer won't rule it out.
"I've been able to get more press and better shows here than in Austin, which helps in starting out. But going further with things it might be hard. The people going to the shows here are other musicians; very rarely do I see random people out at shows, so it makes it difficult to reach more people. At the same time it's a nice, close-knit community of people. In the future I might go somewhere else, but I definitely don't wish that I'd been somewhere else all this time."
Listen to the new EP on Radio 29-95 Wednesday at 3 p.m. and Thursday at noon.
Elaine Greer CD release party with News on the March and One Hundred Flowers. $8 includes copy of disc. 9 p.m. Thursday. Mango's.
Testify - Elaine Greer
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Elaine Greeris a name that many people in Houston remember fondly. Greer, made a name for herself a...Elaine Greeris a name that many people in Houston remember fondly. Greer, made a name for herself as a powerful singer songwriter in Houston, releasing many low-fi CDRs before heading off to Austin a few years back. Before she her departure, she decided it was time to move up a bit and enter the studio. The resulting EP, Making Plans and Going Places, far exceeded anyone’s expectation. Greer took advantage of the larger palatte offered by the studio and dramatically expanded her sound in a way that never overshadowed her rich voice and intelligent songcraft. Now, Greer (who also plays with Austin’s Sour Notes) returns to her hometown to celebrate the release of her second studio release, Annotations. We caught up with Greer recently as she prepared for the album’s release.
FPH – It’s been a while since you moved to Austin. Why the move? How has that change of city worked for you? How has that city changed your approach to music and song craft?
Greer – I had several initial reasons for moving. I’d lived in Houston for my entire life, and I knew that I didn’t want to stay there forever. There were many personal reasons involved in the move as well. At first it was a bit rough being in a new city, however, I now couldn’t be happier with the decision. I feel like music in Houston has changed a lot from what it was back when I was active there. I’m just starting to really get involved with things here in Austin; it’s a bit harder to tap into, but now I’m seeing that there are actually lots of opportunities, bands to play with, and audiences to reach. I don’t think living in Austin has changed my approach to music too much, except that I am exposed to a lot of different styles and genres all the time…I think in the last album I definitely branched out as far as experimenting with different sounds and structures.
FPH – How do you see Houston and Austin’s scenes now that you’ve experienced both?
Greer – Well, there are the obvious differences between the two, like how Houston’s scene is smaller with less bands and less people. That’s one of the awesome things about Houston. In Austin, there are so many bands that there’s no possible way to know them all! But, it also means more bands to play with, who probably have a different group of people coming to their shows. It’s harder to overplay in Austin because there are so many niches. I think for where I’m at now, Austin is a good place to be, but a few years ago I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere other than Houston.
FPH – You joined the Sour Notes when you moved. How did you join? How has that affected you as a player, performer,and songwriter?
Greer – I knew Jared (singer/songwriter of The Sour Notes) before moving to Austin; one day I ran into him and he asked me to sing on one of their albums. One thing led to another: he asked if I’d want to go on tour with them, and I said yes. I’d never been on tour before! I was in the band for a while, quit for about a year, and am playing with them again now. I don’t think it’s changed me much as a songwriter- I am a very private songwriter, and my songs are very different from Sour Notes songs. Performance wise the two bands always have completely different vibes. It has helped as a player in several ways though; I feel that having to play different styles that I wouldn’t usually play has helped to expand my musical horizons. Also, between the two bands, I am playing pretty much every day which keeps me on my toes. And now Jared is playing in my band too!
FPH – This is your follow-up to your EP. How was the recoding and writing of this different from your last EP?
Greer – At the time when I recorded the EP, I was playing with a steady band line up and that affected the song arrangements quite a bit. We went in and started the recording as a band, beginning with drums, and layering from there. The more recent album was approached in a much more solitary way. I had no band at the time that I started it, and wasn’t even sure what songs would end up on the album. I recorded with Steve Christensen, beginning in his apartment (“The Treehouse”). We recorded guitar and vocals before everything else. Next we had Ryan Odom come in and play drums. With these tracks, I recorded keyboard, harmonies, etc. Bass came in later. It was a slow layering process, starting from the stripped down song. Drawing it out helped, however, because it gave me more time to ponder the arrangements and know how I wanted things to be.
FPH – I saw on your site that you originally expected to release this back in February. What happened?
Greer – Hmm….Life happened I suppose! Things took way longer than expected on all fronts. I also wanted to wait for the right time to have a release; I wanted to wait until I felt like I had some momentum behind me. I’m glad I waited, because now we’re touring to support the album and I feel like I’m in a better place to really push it.
FPH – Are you working with a label or will it be self released?
Greer – Self-released. I’m going to start working on a new album in August when we return from tour, so maybe I can finally release that one on a label! Just maybe…
FPH – You’re doing a pretty mileage heavy tour for this album. Is this your first tour? Will you be playing solo or will you be performing with a backing band?
Greer – This will be my second tour, but my first tour with my own project. Since we’re going with The Sour Notes, I will be playing twice every night (yikes!). I think it’ll be a lot of work but also really fun. We wanted to cover as much ground as possible over a short period of time, since there will be 8 of us and that’s a lot of work schedules to juggle. I’m bringing the band with me!
FPH – Are you excited about the tour? Has playing with the Sour Notes changed how you approach your solo performances or the stage in general?
Greer – Of course I’m super excited. I think we have a lot of promising shows lined up. From here on out I want to go on tour a lot more; I’ve finally found a band line up who are into the idea of touring. I don’t think playing with The Sour Notes has changed my performances much; the 2 kinds of performances are completely different experiences. It is the experience of being on stage as a player vs. being on stage as an artist/songwriter. One is way more personal and intimate. Jared and I kind of switch places for the 2 different bands; when I play with The Sour Notes I try to play what’s best for the song or do what his vision is. My own songs mean something personal to me, so performing them onstage is more intense. Also my music is quieter with a more lyrical focus, while The Sour Notes music is louder and more rockin’.
FPH – It’s been a long time since I interviewed you. I think maybe you were just kind of getting recognition in Houston at that time. How have you changed in these years as an artists and what artists over these years have affected that change?
Greer – Well, I guess my approach to things has changed a bit as I’ve gotten older. When I first started playing, I was really young and therefore didn’t have much direction, it was just trial and error to see what worked and what didn’t. I guess it’s still a bit like that, but I feel like I’m getting more of a grasp on what I want to do and what my strong suits are. I think it’s a constant growing process and I still have a long ways to go! As far as artists that affected the change…I’ve always listened to a ton of female led bands and songwriters. While I was working on “Annotations”, I was really into Camera Obscura, Still Corners and other kind of dreamy sounding stuff. I now play electric guitar at most shows instead of acoustic and am more open to effects where as I used to try to keep things super organic. I’m also starting to focus way more on lyrics; trying to keep subject matter cohesive instead of jumping all over the place!
FPH – Explain the crossroads of Broadway and Punk Rock for us.
Greer – Ha! Well, my dad listened to a lot of show tunes so I was exposed to it a lot growing up. I knew all the words to Grease and Rent and Phantom of the Opera. I still love that stuff. When I first started getting really into music I was into punk rock; I had pink hair and went to shows and crowd-surfed! I learned how to play guitar playing power chords and trying to start punk rock bands will all of my middle school friends but that didn’t work out incredibly well. I think I was drawn to it because it felt free and passionate.
FPH – A few songwriting questions. When you are working on new songs, how much does the particular instrument you are playing or imagining affect the song? How do you know a song is done? How do you know the song is a dead end? Do you ever find yourself second guessing yourself and, if so, why? What do you think is the mark of a good songwriter?
Greer – Hmm, this is a tough question, because I approach songwriting in several different ways. Sometimes I’ll start on a certain instrument, have a melody or change that I like, and lyrics come later…sometimes I have a lyrical idea and have to find the right instrument home for it. It really depends. I write a lot on piano, but have for some reason not incorporated those songs into the live shows yet…I want to do so in the future. On several occasions I’ve started writing a song on piano and then decided to play it on guitar instead for convenience purposes. I’m really bad at finishing songs; it’s something I just have to kind of force myself to do, because I never feel like I’ve found the most perfect ending or bridge or outro or words. I change songs constantly, sometimes completely rearranging them a year later. As far as dead end songs, I’ve had more than I could ever remember that never made it to the later stages. If I’m bored with the song, I can be quite certain that everyone else will be (I think at least). I think everyone second guesses themselves at times and of course I do! Sometimes I’ll really like something and have to wonder if it’s completely stupid or sounds terrible but at this point I figure it’s better to throw it out there and see how it goes. I think the mark of a good songwriter is being able to write something that resonates with someone for some reason or another, be it in progression or instrumentation or arrangement or lyrics or even the way it’s executed.
FPH – What do you think is that one thing that makes a song strike a chord with a listener and why is it songs have that affect on people?
Greer – I think people are always trying to find something to relate to or something that moves them away from everyday monotony. As humans I think we often want to feel that we aren’t alone in things we are feeling or going through. Different songs will probably strike chords with different listeners since we all have different experiences and things that are important to us, but in the end that are the central common themes that are repeated over and over again in songwriting because nearly everyone can relate. It’s a magical thing really.
Elaine Greer performs Friday June 24 at Fitzgerald’s downstairs with Hearts of Animals and Trio Musette (a new Geoffrey Muller project!) 8$, 8 PM, All Ages
Show Spotlight: Elaine Greer
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Admittedly, Elaine Greer and her new album, Annotations, is the whole reason tonight's show is going...Admittedly, Elaine Greer and her new album, Annotations, is the whole reason tonight's show is going down. I can't claim to have known anything about her or the LP's existence until about a month or so ago, but I know that I've been impressed with the pair since they entered my world. If you're looking for sweet and endearing, then you'll be happy to know that both the LP and the girl effortlessly exude it, and that has to be reason enough to come out to Spiderhouse Ballroom tonight. See you there.
The Sour Notes/Elaine Greer Tour KickOff
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Young guitarist Elaine Greer has been flying under the radar since releasing an EP in 2009, but with...Young guitarist Elaine Greer has been flying under the radar since releasing an EP in 2009, but with the release of debut LP Annotations, she’s proven she can take her shimmering folk-pop to the Cactus Cafe or Mohawk. Greer and her band make one last splash before heading out with fellow locals the Sour Notes (of which she’s also a member) for a Midwest/East Coast tour. Also on the two-stage bill are two ATX acts dropping new albums. Quin Galavis’ first LP, Should Have Known You, offers sweet 1960s pop; Monarchs’ Southern soul gets updated with its upcoming Mike McCarthy-produced debut, The Rise and Fall. Prehistoric shredders Megafauna, carnival ladies Agent Ribbons, pop provocateur Pink Nasty, and swing kids MaryAnn & the Revival Band jump on the bandwagon, too. – Audra Schroeder
Elaine Greer and Friends [CD Release and Show Preview]
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In Austin, we like to stick together. Whether it's fighting for a cause, drinking beer in the sunshi...In Austin, we like to stick together. Whether it's fighting for a cause, drinking beer in the sunshine, or supporting a friend's musical accomplishments, everyone seems to band together in the name of having a good time. That's why it's so nice to see the stellar and extensive lineup for the CD release from Elaine Greer & Friends. In addition to celebrating the release of her new album, Annotations, Elaine Greer will also be able to bask in the glory of having a troupe of supporting bands on the docket—The Sour Notes, Monarchs, Quin Galavis, Pink Nasty, Megafauna, Agent Ribbons, MaryAnn & The Revival Band and DJ Ben Blackout. We're not done with the fun, yet. There will be a photobooth by Allison Narro sponsored by Bird's Barbershop and FREE pizza from Gatti's pizza. Come out and support this troupe of musicians and heck, bring your friends. RSVP here for $3 entry, otherwise it's $5 at the door.
Elaine Greer CD Release Show Tonight at 29th Street Ballroom
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Houston native Elaine Greer now lives and makes music right here in Austin. The 23-year-old indie-fo...Houston native Elaine Greer now lives and makes music right here in Austin. The 23-year-old indie-folk songwriter and guitarist joined her first band, the short-lived Bluebirds, in 2005 and currently plays with local quintet The Sour Notes, but has mostly done solo work for a few years now. After making a series of lo-fi projects, she recorded an EP, the six-song Making Plans and Going Places (2009).
Greer just released Annotations, a meticulous blend of her earlier sound and sharp, solid arrangements with flawless harmonies. And to celebrate, she’s assembled some of the best local talent to perform at her CD release show tonight at the 29th Street Ballroom at Spider House, 2906 Fruth St. This will surely be one of those “really big show” occasions: MaryAnn and The Revival Band, Greer and friends, Agent Ribbons and Monarchs in the ballroom, and Pink Nasty, Megafauna, The Sour Notes and Quin Galavis on the bar stage.
The music begins at 9 p.m. Recommended.
The Sour Notes, Elaine Greer
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Just because Elaine Greer has a new solo CD out doesn’t mean the Sour Notes are on hiatus without he...Just because Elaine Greer has a new solo CD out doesn’t mean the Sour Notes are on hiatus without her. Instead, she’s both supporting and headlining, highlighting the effervescent pop of her Annotations disc while also gilding the Sour Notes’ most recent Last Looks, layers of lush melodies with muscle and character. No need to start a game of where’s Waldo & the Naturals – they’re opening. – Margaret Moser
Tonight’s picks: Elaine Greer, Young Maths, Este Vato, more
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Elaine Greer CD release at the Spiderhouse Ballroom. Houston indie pop group celebrates a new album ...Elaine Greer CD release at the Spiderhouse Ballroom. Houston indie pop group celebrates a new album and upcoming tour with Austin’s the Sour Notes. With the Sour Notes, Quin Galavis, Monarchs, Agent Ribbons, Pink Nasty Megafauna and MaryAnn and the Revival Band. 9 p.m. $5 2906 Fruth Street. www.spiderhousecafe.com.
Elaine Greer Live From Joe Mathlete's Living Room
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I'm relatively new to Houston's own folk-pop princess Elaine Greer, only ever hearing a few random t...I'm relatively new to Houston's own folk-pop princess Elaine Greer, only ever hearing a few random tracks from her MySpace page. I wasn't expecting much of a voice from the pint-sized ukulele-sporting chanteuse, but after catching this video from our friends over at 29-95, I was immediately sold. The vid finds Greer playing through a snippet of Journey's "Small Town Girl" before being joined by News On The March's Austin Sepulvado on auxiliary percussion and back-up vocals for a run-through of a newly penned track. All going down in local musician-turned-blogger Joe Mathlete's very lucky living room, this three minutes is pure pop bliss in it's finest form.
Her Way: Singer-songwriter Elaine Greer learns how to play well with others.
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With her wide eyes, shy demeanor and devastatingly adorable giggle, you'd think Elaine Greer would w...With her wide eyes, shy demeanor and devastatingly adorable giggle, you'd think Elaine Greer would welcome musical input with a warm smile and how-do-ya-do.
"Oh, no, I'm not very good at it at all, actually," laughs the local singer-songwriter. "Most of the time I give [my bandmates] the recording and say, 'Here's the song, learn it.'"
Anything after that can get a bit, um, sticky.
"When people suggest changing [songs], I generally don't take it very well," she says. Her resistance doesn't stem from disrespect — after all, she does need people to play with — Greer just wants her songs to sound like, well, Elaine Greer.
"I think it's coming more from the place of I don't want it to lose the genuine kind of — I don't know, I guess it's not really a situation in which we all sit down and write together or anything like that," she explains. "So when someone does suggest changing it, I'm kind of like, 'Well, you know, you're not going to be here maybe for this show and then if we change it for this, then how am I going to be able to do it the same way by myself?'
"So, for a few different reasons, I'm pretty particular about keeping things one way. But it's not like I'm going to shoot down everything. I try to be open, I guess..." she says and laughs.
Those attempts were put to the test earlier this year when Greer finally broke tradition and headed to the studio to record the six-song Making Plans and Going Places. Her latest EP marks a change of pace from the past five years of recording her Feist-y, Rilo Kiley-esque sounds solo via her bedroom.
"It was kind of awkward for me because I hadn't really recorded with other people before, and not having that control actually kind of freaked me out," says Greer, no longer surprisingly.
"I've always done the home-recording thing where I'm just sitting in my bedroom like, 'Oh, I'm going to shake this salt shaker and see what I make for percussion,'" she says, imitating her former self by lowering her head and speaking in a voice similar to Disney's Goofy.
Greer might be a stickler onstage and in the studio, but she's not afraid to poke fun at herself off-camera. She entrusted her recording duties to News on the March guitarist/vocalist Joe Weber at his Master Bedroom Studios, conveniently located in NOTM headquarters, i.e., the band members' house. Yes, they all live together, but it wasn't exactly an easy transition for Greer.
"I actually had to kick Joe out of the room to do most of my vocals," she says. "They were very subpar, but once he left and just let me do it, they were much better."
Greer admits to putting up some fights, but she also gave in more than usual. Especially when it came to mixing the EP with Sugar Hill hero Steve Christensen. Not hard to believe, given Christensen's experience awards him a lot of "Yeah, I should probably listen to this guy" weight.
"I did put quite a bit of faith into his ability," says Greer.
In fact, Christensen frequently had to encourage Greer to speak up as he undressed her tunes.
"He definitely strips the songs down," she says, admitting they needed to be. "We definitely had these huge, grandiose productions, and he kind of brought them back. All the extra stuff, I thought was good, but he kind of had to say, 'Well, other people don't know these songs and they'll want to listen to the actual songs.'"
Local friends and sometime bandmates including (to name a few) NOTM's Austin Sepulvado (guitars, accordion) and Gillian Williams (cello), Wild Moccasins' Andrew Ortiz (drums) and Grandfather Child/Satin Hooks' Lucas Gorham (lap steel) all helped out. Greer says although all of their sounds stayed in, it was inevitable that some would be cut back.
"I kinda knew that was going to happen,"she says. "I knew we had overdone it with the adding on."
The final product, though, echoes Greer's musical and collaborative maturity. This is mostly thanks to her decision to re-record old favorites instead of rolling out all new tunes.
"A couple of them I've recorded before, like home recordings, but I didn't want to just leave it at that," she says. "I like these songs...and I think they deserve a good recording."
Longtime fans who remember Greer from her days at Super Happy Fun Land — both on her own and fronting duo The Bluebirds — will sense the years of rethinking, restructuring and retuning.
Greer's vocals are now slowed down, relaxed and unmistakably more confident. Nowhere is her leap into maturity more evident than on the rich, Gillian-Welch-like transformation of favorites like "The Key" and "Wild Things," which make perfect companions for new numbers like the waltzy "Under the Radar" and two-steppin' "Ancient History."
"I think a lot of it was just me learning how to sing," she says. "In The Bluebirds, I was like, 'I guess I can kind of sing,'" she says, once again impersonating former "Goofy Elaine."
or the EP's release Saturday, Greer says she's doing her best to bring in as many musicians as possible.
"I mean, for me, it's always kind of like,'I don't know — maybe,'" she says in a vaudeville-comedienne tone.
Nudging the air with her elbow,Greer laughs.
"Whoever gets together to practice."
Elaine Greer CD Release Show this Friday
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Elaine Greer CD release show this Friday June 22nd, 2011 · No Comments This Friday (6.24.11), Fi...Elaine Greer CD release show this Friday
June 22nd, 2011 · No Comments
This Friday (6.24.11), Fitzgerald’s hosts Elaine Greer‘s CD release show for her new album, Annotations, which was produced by Steve Christensen. Hearts of Animals and Geoffrey Muller’s newest project, Trio Musette, are also on the bill. She also plays Houston on 7.10.11.
More info on the show may be found on Facebook. More information on Greer may be found at her website.
Additional tour dates after the jump… Thursday, June 30
CD RELEASE/Tour kickoff at Spiderhouse Ballroom, Austin, TX
w/ Monarchs, Pink Nasty, Agent Ribbons, The Sour Notes, Megafauna, MaryAnn and the Revival Band, Quin Galavis
On tour with The Sour Notes:
Friday, July 1st- Denton, TX at TBA w/ Young and Brave + more
Saturday, July 2nd- Fayetteville, AR – at Smoke & Barrel Tavern with Where’s Lawerence?, Messy Sparkles & Voyageurs
Sunday, July 3rd- Chicago, IL with Whisker Music + TBA
Monday, July 4th- Akron, OH at Annabell’s with TBA (4th of July Bash)
Tuesday, July 5th- Providence, RI with Liz Isenberg and Vio/Mire
Wednesday, July 6th- New York City, NY at Cake Shop with Waking Lights and Telenovelas
Thursday, July 7th- Richmond, VA at Strange Matter with Girls, Bird Lips and Trillions
Friday, July 8th- Atlanta, GA at Highland Ballroom Inn with Tealights and Lille
Saturday, July 9th- New Orleans, LA at One Eyed Jack’s with Alexis Marceaux + 1
Sunday, July 10th- Houston, TX at Fitzgerald’s
Thursday, July 14th- Cactus Cafe HOMECOMING show
Austin Rockin - June 24th
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There is a very exciting point in a musician’s career when, after a long time of working on their cr...There is a very exciting point in a musician’s career when, after a long time of working on their craft, they realize what they do has a value outside of their own bedroom. If you were at the Proletariat and saw Elaine Greer perform to a packed crowd last month opening for the Fiery Furnaces, you couldn’t help but feel the giddiness of a musician at that stage. Standing on stage behind her Telecaster, you could almost hear her take a deep breath before diving in. Greer’s songs drip with sweet and simple melodies that hum inside your head long after you first hear them. In her home recordings, the songs are intimate and have an understated beauty but that night, with a full band (The Holly Hall), the songs ripped with confidence and endless possibilities. Zahira Gutierrez’s lovely harmonies and Guitarist Nick Cody’s clean and melodic guitar lines played elegantly against Greer’s vocals while JD Tucker and Grant Hickey’s drum and bass added some limber rhythmic muscle to the songs - the crowd ate up every note. The wonderful thing is, be it solo or as a member of The Holly Hall, Greer is still at a point where she has only just touched the needle down onto the record’s groove.
Greer began playing piano at 5. “I was jealous of my sister taking lessons so, when the piano teacher came over to give her a lesson, I ran upstairs, locked myself in the room with the piano, and started banging on it to show them how great I was - it worked!” Eventually, like many kids, she grew to dislike the lessons and quit. “Well,” says Greer sheepishly, “until recital! When recital came up I’d beg my mom to be back in the class just to do the recital. That would drive her crazy.” She also had a fixation with Broadway no doubt inspired by her father’s love of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera. “He’d play it all the time and my sister and I would fight over who would be the girl but she’d always get stuck with being the guy.” Then, thinking about it, she laughs with a tinge of guilt, “I’m sure she still has bitter memories of that.” By age fourteen, she started writing songs but was too scared to show them to people. When she did work up the courage at around sixteen or seventeen she would do so only in the relative safety of her room and only while facing the wall.
Greer eventually did put aside her fears and joined The Bluebirds: “The songs were pretty raw and I wasn't a very good singer yet, but Super Happy Fun Land let us play.” About a year after that first band’s dissolution, Greer teamed up with guitarist Nick Cody as an acoustic duo which lasted until last fall’s Westheimer Block Party. “We decided to add drums and bass just for the occasion. You know,” she says with glee, “It’ll be loud!” A few twists and turns later and that band coalesced into the band heard at the Fiery Furnaces show.
“We all had fun playing together, but from the beginning there was some turmoil within the band," says Greer, "Nick and the others wanted to do their own things but at that point were still playing only my songs.” The solution was that Elaine Greer, the solo artist, and The Holly Hall, the band, had to become different entities. The Holly Hall would be more of a collaborative effort while Greer would be able to exert full control as a solo artist. In fact, Greer plans to release a solo EP later this year which will feature members of the Papermoons as well as other musicians. “It’s really exciting and I don’t want to sound like a control freak but I know how I want things to sound.”
When I ask her if this means she’s found her ideal voice as an artist she replies, “I don’t feel like I’ve found the perfect ‘Elaine Greer’ voice but I think musicians and artists are always looking for their voice or what they are trying to convey...I think it's something that probably changes throughout life as a person has more experiences and different things become more or less important.”
So how does it feel to have moved from her bedroom to the stage? “It’s a good feeling to get that audience feedback – knowing people are enjoying it. It’s my favorite thing in the world so I like the idea that it makes someone happy. There is a satisfaction in playing alone in a room to myself - it’s extremely enjoyable and that’s how I write everything - but,” she adds with a gracious modesty, “I never expected people to like it.”
Talking CD Release with Elaine Greer
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Elaine Greer is someone readers of this newspaper and blog should be quite familiar with (See our p...Elaine Greer is someone readers of this newspaper and blog should be quite familiar with (See our profile of her from March 2008). She's one of Houston's best singer songwriters - packing a sharp gift for melody in one holster and strong and distinctive voice in the other. If anyone's work in Houston has been long overdue a proper CD release, it's Elaine Greer's! Thankfully on Thursday at Mango's Elaine is finally letting the hen out and releasing her first proper CD - a six-song EP "Making Plans and Going Places." The songs should be quite familiar to fans who've kept up with her live performances and many will be excited and surprised at how Elaine approached the songs in the studio.
Thrilled about the imminent release we sent Elaine the death metal questions you saw on the homepage (link) then figured - oh, what they hey - we may as well actually ask her some real questions too. Thankfully Elaine was gracious enough to reply to both sets of questions.
FPH: How was this whole process different than the CDRs of your work that you've released before and sold at shows?
EG: Well, I didn't want to stray too far from that and risk the CD not sounding how I'm used to sounding. I think the biggest change is simply the instrumentation. In my past recordings I would add on as much as I could, but a lot of the things on the CD now weren't a possibility. And of course, quality wise, this CD shouldn't even compare to the home recordings, all of which were done with one crappy USB microphone! Process wise, it was initially strange for me just sitting there waiting while someone else recorded parts, but I think I got used to it pretty quickly!
FPH: I really like the production on the album. It’s rich but not overbearing. My favorite example is the string arrangements on Under The Radar they’re just this perfect touch. Who played the strings and who arranged them? Also, where was this recorded? Did you have a Producer? How was the recording process like? Who were the players and what did they bring to the process?
EG: The strings on Under the Radar were played by Gillian Williams (cello) from News on the March, and Brian Howe (violin). The arrangements were constructed by Harrison Speck and myself. For Under the Radar, we sat down with a keyboard and used the fake string sound to figure out something that would sound good, and then he made our dinky keyboard sketch into some readable sheet music! For Wild Things, I have to give all of the credit to him as far as the string arrangement goes. Some of it ended up being cut out in the mixing process. Nearly the entire CD was recorded at Master Bedroom Studios (the studio of Joe Weber from NOTM), but the horns parts were recorded by Harrison Speck (trombone) and Amber Nepodal (trumpet) in Austin and sent to us in Houston. There was no producer; I kind of had rough ideas for how I wanted the songs to sound, but nothing definite. I wanted to ideally reach a mix between the simpler more vocally based home recordings and the more upbeat live band sound we had at the time. All of the different people who played on the CD brought something different to the table and I think that's what really affected the end result. Other than the above mentioned players, there was Travis Smith on bass, Andrew Ortiz on drums, Lucas Gorham on lapsteel, Austin Sepulvado on guitar, accordian, and backing vocals...I played a bunch of piano and keyboardy bits, bells, and omnichord...Joe Weber and Harrison Speck played a couple of keyboardy bits...you get the idea! I went in first to lay down the acoustic guitar tracks, followed by bass and drums, and from there it was just a slow building process to what it is now.
FPH: These songs have been kicking around for a while now and for the most part the arrangements have been pretty set in stone for a while so while recordings don’t vary much structurally, there is a lot more lush palate you are working with in the studio in terms of instrumentation. How did you approach figuring out just what you wanted to add, what you wanted to change, and what was too much?
EG: This was actually something I mulled over a lot before and during the recording process. I knew the kinds of sounds I wanted, but I initially didn't know where or how to incorporate it...which resulted in the recording happening in a system of layers. We would record the parts we already had, and then record new alternatives, and in the end it was kind of a trial and error/elimination process. There were definitely a couple points where things started sounding really cluttered and confusing, but in the end I think it all got sorted out!
FPH: Were there any unexpectedly happy surprises in the process?
EG: Oh definitely. Lots and lots of them. I was super excited about the string and horn parts, and I'm really pleased with the outro of Ancient History and the big build up at the end of Under the Radar. After Lucas recorded lapsteel on Wild Things, we all kept listening to it and being like "Whoa that part's neat!" I was also glad to be able to incorporate some pretty dreamy instruments, and now have a new love for glockenspiel and omnichord.
FPH: How did you approach your vocals on the CD compared to your live performances. Did you find your phrasing change in the studio or was it pretty much just how it came out?
EG: Well, in general I think I tend to sing louder and more enthusiastically in the live setting, especially with the band...mostly to match the volume of the situation. On the recording I wanted it to be more of how I would naturally sing the song, even if only to myself. I get really nervous about recording vocals around other people, especially harmonies and "oohs" and "ahs". So I had to do a lot of those when there was no one else in the room, but I guess in the end however it came out wasn't completely planned. A couple little changes had to be made, such as having overlapping lines on Under the Radar. The reason is that the song is faster now than it originally was when I wrote it, and I had trouble fitting all the words in! Not to mention that some of the songs on the CD were first (home) recorded 6 months-a year ago...sometimes I start singing them a little differently throughout time without even realizing it.
FPH: I see Michael Rodriguez did the cover art. How was it working with him and getting the look that conveyed what you wanted for the CD?
EG: Working with him was great...it went very smoothly and was very easy. We sat down once to talk about ideas for the cover art, and there were a few different directions it could have gone. There were also a couple different stages with different designs. I think what I initially told him was fairly vague, but I wasn't too worried because I've never seen anything he's done that I didn't like!
FPH: Was there anything you wanted to add that just wasn’t able to make it on the CD?
EG: Yes, but I think that would always be the case. I originally had recorded a piano song that was supposed to be on the CD, but it ended up getting ignored and was never finished. I would have liked to have a piano based song, and I didn't quite do as many crazy vocal harmony parts as I would have liked to. But hey, I'll save all that for the full length.
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"Standing aside and behind her, a three piece band, whose amplified sound was almost big enough to k..."Standing aside and behind her, a three piece band, whose amplified sound was almost big enough to keep up with her now seriously catalyic-coverterless voice; you simply cannot believe that a sound that big and full can come from a body that small (and there is really no way to write that phrase without it sounding creepy. Apologies). Though the twee-folk is gone, don't think that she's fallen off the cliff into some sort of too-tuff n' snarly Runaways style rebellion - she sings with a smile and made a noticeably 'oh no' face as she realized she was about to say a lyric with a bad word in front of her grandmother (who was in the audience). The band's slightly twangy pop fits well in the collection of anyone who counts Rilo Kiley or The Lemonheads as must-hears, and certainly has a place in ours."
Tilly and the Wall at the Engine Room
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"The first act for evening was Elaine Greer, a local singer who writes and sings wonderful folk/pop ..."The first act for evening was Elaine Greer, a local singer who writes and sings wonderful folk/pop songs. I had seen her before, when she played the last show to ever take place at the Prolo earlier this year, and she has gotten even better since then. Her songs are pretty simple, but have diverse instrumentation, thanks to Austin Lloyd juggling guitar, accordion, and lap steel. The drummer is quite a sight to see, sometimes standing while playing, sometimes jumping up and down, and sometimes eating a pear while tapping a tambourine."
Set is usually between 35-45 minutes, and consists of a mix of songs from "Annotations" (full length), "Making Plans and Going Places" (EP) and newer songs to be released in the future.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.