Love the ‘COMPASSIONETTE’ moniker for the tour. How did you come up with that, and how do you ‘spread awareness through music, fashion, food and love’?
Thank you! When preparing for last year’s tour I wanted to create a name that would express my desire to spread compassion and awareness of animal cruelty and animal rights. I was tossing names back and forth with my friend Marla Rose, the co-founder of VeganStreet.com (Chicago, IL). I mentioned how my husband Doug is great at coming up with names and that he created the name NetteRadio (an internet radio show I ran/hosted for several years) that he based off my name and it just clicked. We played with the spelling, she thought perhaps it should be Compassionnette, but I decided Compassionette made the most sense, and the Compasionette Tour was born.
Spreading awareness through music is perhaps the easiest part. The tour is mostly about music and I have songs of compassion, social consciousness, human interaction, animals, and animal rights, and awareness throughout my set, along with songs from my first record “Life, Death, and the Spaces Between, which address challenging issues of loss, fear, faith and relationships all wrapped in beautiful melodies with silver linings. As a vegan, I feel it is important to make compassionate choices in all aspects of my personal life, therefore, I choose vegan shoes, belts, handbags, clothes, etc. Vegan cowboy boots, vegan cork jewelry, vegan belts, vegan guitar straps, my vegan Blackbird guitar from Bedell, the Seagull Artist Series guitar which is sustainably sourced animal – friendly, etc. I had ten international sponsors for last year’s tour: Bedell Guitars, Bent & Bree, BHAVA, Couch Guitar Straps, Kat Mendenhall Vegan Cowboy Boots, Guitar Moose, LR Baggs, Seagull Guitars, and Shubb Capos provided support to the Compassionette Tour with products. Tofurky lent support to the Compassionette Tour by providing coupon booklets and compassionate counter-culture cards to pass out along the way.
I am looking for sponsors that share my message to add them to my promotion materials as soon as possible and working on putting together a special cruelty-free wardrobe for the 2017 tour which I hope will be in part covered by new sponsors, as it was last year.
Who are the three music artists that have had the most profound influence on your playing and music style?
Only three?.. I would say Dolly Parton, Karen Carpenter, and Simon & Garfunkel.
Animal cruelty prevention and your passion for Vegan food get lots of attention in your songs, and that’s a good thing, but, how about the more touchy topics such as today’s polarized political climate in America, the fight to curb abortion rights, etc. Do you ever write about these subjects?
I don’t think I have ever written a song about vegan food… yet! (Laughing) But never say never. I have written songs about animal cruelty and vivisection, factory farming, and the choices I can make in in that regard. I have written songs about the relationships we have with one another and how the butterfly effect of the choices we make sow seeds of that promote positivity or negativity. This negativity can evolve into human cruelty if we are not careful.
I do not address specific political events such as our current political climate or the topic of abortion. There are artists out there who do incredible job writing about these topics, and I applaud them. I feel my advocacy is best served as a voice for the voiceless. I think we shine when we are true to our authentic selves.
What’s the dynamic like of touring/performing with your husband?
I love touring with him. We have such a fun time together and the only down side is when the tour is over and we must return to “real life” and go back to day to day life.
Real life is a mortgage, jobs, cats to feed, loud neighbors, and Los Angeles traffic. Touring and performing is just the two of us on the road in an SUV with a cooler, our gear and a couple of suitcases. Everything has been taken care of in advance, there is a pet sitter, and no matter where we go we will never have to contend with Los Angeles traffic. We see changing leaves, visit family and friends on the road, play old songs, new songs, make new friends, and tell each other jokes, stories, and sing in the car. Like I said… the only downside is when it’s over.
How has the music business changed since you first started out?
Everyone is a DIY musician. When I first entered the music business artists hoped to secure a label deal. That was a real opportunity for artists. Indie was a new thing. Friends were signed. Friends were dropped. When streaming started, it destroyed the music industry. Now everyone expects music is FREE? Free? Why? Can you go to Barnes and Nobel and walk out with a book? What makes you think you can just take a record? I make a point of paying for every song I want. If I need to learn a song for a tribute show I download the song through iTunes or Amazon instead of just listening on YouTube. I realize its pennies, but pennies add up and if there was one thing I could change about the music industry it would be the consumer perception that music has little/no monetary value when I know how expensive it is to create.
If you were not choosing to play music for a living, what would you be doing to earn a living?
Aside from playing music as a hobby I would perhaps write.
Hear tell you have a song of yours being included in a movie being released later this year, how did that come to be?
HighlandMyst Entertainment is releasing the film The Harrowing Winter 2017 with an advance screening in Dallas, TX on August 3, 2017. Cedar Box is on the soundtrack. Jon Keeyes (director) has placed several other songs of ours in other HighlandMyst Entertainment films including American Nightmare, Suburban Nightmare, and Fall Down Dead. I am an associate producer on Nightmare Box, due out this summer.
Finish this sentence: “In five years, I hope for Annette Conlon’s career to be ________”
“Self-sustaining”, I’d love for this to happen earlier, but I am a firm believer in putting everything back into your music, to make it grow.
We at IndiePulse Music wish you all the best on your tour and would love to see you live !
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me!
ABOUT / BIOGRAPHY
The influences of Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton can be discerned in her solo debut, and Country Music People ranked “Life, Death, and the Spaces Between” third on a ‘Best Albums of 2015’ list, dubbing Annette Conlon “a major talent” who “created a moving, intimate, magical melodic country trip.” Currently working with three-time Grammy winner Alf Rodenas on her second album, Conlon promises a “sweet, folk-rock” effort that “delves ever deeper into my human heart.”
A frequent performer at charity events, nightclubs, and festivals in and around Los Angeles, Annette Conlon is no stranger to adversity or hard work. She toured the country from the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s with her Dallas-based alt-rock band Eden Automatic, opening shows for the likes of the B-52s, Duran Duran, Missing Persons, and the Pretenders. But, when serious health issues forced Annette to face her own mortality, the transformation which followed resulted in a seismic artistic shift toward a more rootsy sound, resulting in her most honest collection of personal musical storytelling.
Her solo debut, 2015’s “Life, Death, and the Spaces Between,” is rich with country-flavored melodies and lively instrumentation — accordion, banjo, cello, Dobro, guitars, mandolin, mellotron, and pedal steel — arranged alongside guitarist/husband Doug Conlon and multi-instrumentalist/producer Ted Wulfers. The 15 songs explore Conlon’s two-year journey through deadly illness, multiple surgeries and a major brain injury. Songs like “First Suicide,” “Cedar Box” and “Faceless Angel” address challenging issues of loss, fear, faith and relationships — weighty matters, to be sure, yet she fashions silver linings from the darkest of clouds.
Conlon recalls. “I was frustrated with being defined by my illness, and decided instead of being ‘as good as new’ I would become ‘better than before.’ I wrote ‘Live Like an Angel’ about refusing to let crushing despair defeat you — about rising above and letting the world hear you sing.”
Along with Country Music People’s high praise, AXS.com called the new release “a sincere compilation of emotionally born composition.” “Life, Death, and the Spaces Between” landed on the Top 100 RadioFreeAmericana chart, and tracks are still earning radio play in the U.S. and Europe.
Long active in LA’s independent music community, Conlon is dedicated to supporting other independent women in music. Her long-running internet radio show “NetteRadio” was one of the first in the field. Continuing in that trend, her monthly NetteRadio Songwriter Showcase has produced more than 100 artists showcases and has raised funds for numerous charitable causes. Her current residency at LA’s popular Muse on 8th coffeehouse allows her to connect with other singer-songwriters and Americana artists across the City of Angels. She received the 2011 Songsalive! Songwriter of the Year Award, and a 2015 Hollywood Music Media Award nomination in Americana.
In September, the passionate animal rights advocate and vegan performed in Nashville during the annual Americana Music Association conference before launching her Compassionette Tour, which wound through Nashville, Alabama and North Carolina, and landing at Chicago Veganmania’s “compassionate culture” celebration. Over the 2016 Halloween weekend Conlon performed at The SoCal VegFest, a fitting event for an artist committed to “spreading awareness through music, fashion, food, and love.”
Follow Annette Conlon on her website http://www.annetteconlon.com and on Social Media.