Alanis Morissette to perform pregnant and empowered in Healdsburg
Alanis Morissette has visited friends in Wine Country a few times over the years since she was 21, after the release of her 1995 Grammy Award-winning alternative rock album “Jagged Little Pill.”
“I’ve gone up there for some escapes and beauty. I love that area so much,” Morissette said about Sonoma County in a Friday interview.
Morissette will be back in Healdsburg on June 22 for the opening show of the popular Rodney Strong Vineyards Summer Concert Series.
The singer-songwriter of emotionally-?charged hit songs like “You Oughta Know” and “Hand in My Pocket” has stayed busy in the last few years.
Now 45, Morissette is married to hip hop artist Souleye, and they have two children with a third on the way.
A rock musical inspired by “Jagged Little Pill” ran in Cambridge, Massachusetts, last summer to sold-out shows and critical acclaim.
The musical is now coming to Broadway for previews on Nov. 7 and an official opening on Dec. 5.
We caught up by phone with Morissette, who was at her recording studio in Los Angeles working on her new album. She spoke candidly about mental health, motherhood, how her artistry has evolved, the musical and her upcoming show at Rodney Strong Vineyards.
“A lot of really fun stuff going on right now,” she said.
Morissette also revealed the name of a song she wrote exclusively for the Broadway musical: “Smiling.” She said a version of the song will also be on her new album next year.
Q: Many women look up to you for your raw expression through music, for being a feminist icon, and for having the strength to show vulnerability. How does it feel?
A: It’s an honor and I just feel like we’re all in this together in so many ways. My style of leadership has always been communal and inclusive. So if anyone ever wants to look to me for any kind of inspiration or assurance or comfort, it is my honor. I really take great pride in seeing people as accurately as I possibly can. I think a lot of times people are inspired because I actually make great attempts to see them - see every aspect of their intellect or their emotional or their relational or their spiritual sides.
Q: What can people who attend your June 22 show in Healdsburg expect from your performance?
A: Basically, it’s an acoustic show. We perform songs from the last 25 years of music, and these are bandmates whom I’ve been playing with for - wow, some of them I met in 2001, so almost 20 years we’ve been playing together. There will be a little bit of banter. We jump all over the place from some songs people know to some that are a little more buried. And I’m pregnant, so they can also expect a very pregnant lady singing for them.
Q: How far along are you in your pregnancy?
A: I’ll be waddling. [Laughs.] I’ll be trying not to waddle, but I’ll be waddling. I’m well into my third trimester.
Q: How is the new album coming along?
A: The songs are all written. It’s likely going to be coming out early next year at some point.
Q: “Jagged Little Pill” the musical opens on Broadway on Dec. 5. How do you feel about the opening?
A: It took about seven years to find the dream team, but we found each other. That includes the writer (Diablo Cody), director (Diane Paulus), choreographer, musical supervisor-director. Every time we’re rehearsing, it’s nonstop crying for me on a few levels just because for me collaboration is a dream. I’m always happy to ride along but the experience is just so much more joyful for me when I’m riding with other people and working with other people who are at the top of their game. It doesn’t feel like the musical was glued or pieced together. It just feels organically - in real time - like the music informs the story and the story is married in a lovely way to the songs. It’s really kind of mind-boggling that it was possible.
Q: What’s it like to work with Diablo Cody (Academy Award-?winning screenwriter of the 2007 film “Juno”)?
A: She’s spoken very often about this being a really incredible experience for her and it’s definitely been beyond incredible for me. Just to work with someone who not only understands the songs to the degree that she does but just honors the story and honors the complexity of humanity and the vulnerability and the empowerment and the conflict and the anger and the terror and the intimacy and the terror of intimacy. She can go deep with me. So that’s been a dream.
Q: How did you decide to start your podcast?
A: Twenty years ago, a lot of people were a little freaked out at the part of me that is academic and psychologically-oriented and just obsessed with the human condition. And I thought well, part of why I write the songs that I write is because I’m obsessed with not only my internal world, but the human condition in general. I had a big itch that needed to be scratched around those kinds of conversations. So I started the podcast to get into trauma recovery and different models that help people heal and return to their innate wholeness.
Q: You’ve been outspoken on your struggles with postpartum depression. What advice would you give to mothers suffering through it?
A: Postpartum depression is no joke and there’s so many angles to it. There’s circumstantial, relational, social, biochemical, hormonal - every single angle is affected as soon as you become a mom. For those of us who are affected on 12 different levels, how can there not be some response of some kind? I call it postpartum activity because it’s not just depression. It’s also anxiety and it’s weird thoughts and terrifying thoughts and sleeplessness and who am I now? It’s a big head spinner.
Q: It’s overwhelming.
A: It’s so overwhelming I could barely breath. But then you keep going. For me, it’s about reducing the stigma as best as we can as quickly as we can because there are so many of us that are suffering. There’s so many ways to approach this. It just can’t be done in isolation.
Q: How does motherhood affect you as an artist?
A: For songwriting, especially on the new record, and all of the songs I’ve ever written, I’m pretty relationship-oriented. So it just adds in a whole new dynamic of a different kind of relationship and a different perspective on versions of love. There’s Eros love that I sing about nonstop. I sing about agape love a lot, too, onstage, which are soulful, spiritual, big picture, macro kind of songs. And then there is this filial, family love. Being a mom is a whole other version of love that comes forth that everyone speaks about, and I’m with everybody on that. It’s asking me to be a more whole person and more empowered. And just understand my own development as a human creature, and then apply that to how I see my kids. Being a mom is just taking everything that I’ve been singing about my whole life and really requiring the rubber to hit the road.
You can reach Staff Writer Susan Minichiello at 707-521-5216 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @susanmini.