Pezzettino’s Resolutions, Regrets (and Sexually Active Nuns)
We should get this out of the way now, and in the interest of full disclosure, tell you that Pezzettino‘s Margaret Stutt is one of my favorite people in the music world – Tiffiny’s, too. In addition to the interviews we’ve done with her in the past (Pezzettino was one of the first artists to be featured on this blog in our early days), she has also landed on our favorite tracks, albums, and gigs lists for 2010, and with good reason: she is immensely talented and endlessly entertaining, wearing her punk rock accordion player and classically trained pianist hats equally well. Tiffiny describes her performance as “heartwrenching, bouncing, electrifying,” and it’s true – there has never been a more apt description.
When her newest album, Lub Dub, arrived, I was going through some pretty intense personal reflection, and I found that it soundtracked my life perfectly for a few weeks. Now that I’m past my internal angst, I find that it soundtracks my life pretty perfectly in general – it’s the kind of record that is really well suited for everything.
Which leads me to this: I wanted to talk to Margaret about her new album, her move to Brooklyn, and life in general, and since we’re wrapping up the year around here, I thought that now would be a great time for that kind of reflection. Also, there’s that whole ‘favorite person in the music world’ thing – she is always a fucking delight to speak with. So go forth, gentle reader, and immerse yourselves in resolutions, regrets, and sexually active nuns.
It’s been a long time since we last spoke! Okay, I’m going to start this off the same way that I did the last time. Where are you right now?
I’m squatting on the floor in my bedroom, surrounded by dirty laundry piles. The only furniture I have is a mattress and record player (birthday present!). Also, my neighbor is having an enviable orgasm…
Summarize 2010 in ten words.
whirlwind/ progress/ bankruptcy/ uplifting/ inspiring/ freedom/ active/ adjustment/ alignment/ follow
What was the best thing that happened to you this year?
The best thing to happen this year is definitely getting out of my white coat professional graduate program and moving to New York for music. I feel like I own my life now, and am rapidly developing as an artist. Personal fulfillment has an amazing way of clearing interior window grime…
When the toilet overflowed and cascaded onto my bed and laptop. Eew! First apartment in Brooklyn: totally disgusting. Or when I thought I had a bot fly in my neck from the same apartment… have you seen bot fly videos?! I went to the free clinic, and the doctor thought I was insane. That apartment is what I imagine hazing to be like….
I regret giggling when cute boy threw quarters into his hot coffee instead of tip jar today…
You recently moved to Brooklyn, right? How has that been? What neighborhood are you living in, and how does it differ from life in the Midwest?
I live in Bushwick. Compared to Milwaukee, it looks like a third world country. But you can get by without a car really easily here (bonus!) and it’s boiling over with music and art– pushes you to focus on your craft, to remember why you’re struggling to live in all this filth. Also, most people don’t have their own washing machine here, so it’s affordable to drop your stink off at the laundromat and have someone else wash your clothes!! BINGO! I’m in.
What is your favorite restaurant in Brooklyn, and what do you typically order there?
Mmm… there’s a tortilla factory in Bushwick that also has a taqueria up front– I go several times a week for a Pollo Quesadilla, $3.25 (includes avocado!!!!). Tortilla Mexicana Los Hermanos, 271 Starr St.
Favorite place to go in the city, and why?
Right now my favorite place is the New York Public Library Performing Arts Research Center. My appetite for new music is out of control, and this place satiates my brain’s teenage metabolism. Love it. Nom nom nom.
Let’s talk about the new album, Lub Dub, which we really love over at Ruckus HQ. Can you tell us the story behind how the project got started and how it evolved? How did you hook up with LMNtlyst, for instance?
Thank you! LMNtlyst proposed that we “jam.” At the time I was touring a lot and was overwhelmed with the amount of new material backing up. When we played together everything seemed to click- these songs that were collecting far too much dust were starting to see the light of day again- and with a treatment that finally seemed appropriate. It was like finding a store of 5-legged pants for all the alien babies I was harboring in my closet, and sending them to school for socialization. I was looking for a more assertive, forward sound for the next album and LMNtlyst’s background in hip hop production, in addition to his mad crazy multi-instrumentalist skills and radically different influences, made him the perfect collaborator. In a blink we had an album on our hands.
It’s pretty crazy now that I think about it- we spent very little time together in the same room, but had this continuous email conversation bouncing back and forth. It was like playing this game where I was trying to paint with someone else’s skilled hand, who has a wide array of brushes and colors and is just trying to draw what you’re describing, but at the same time, being true to his own style… It’s like THE HAND in the Adams family…. no, no… What I’m trying to say is…
There was a lot of volleying. We vetoed each other a lot, and were also totally curious and impressed with each others contributions. Neither of us, it seems, are “into” gray zones. We either love it or hate it, and I think we’re both used to being in charge. Frustrating and rewarding. Our strengths played together well, and I’m extremely pleased with the result. Also, it’s the first time I starting using accordion with guitar pedals.
You did a Kickstarter campaign to get funding for the album, which is kind of a cool new thing that a lot of independent artists are doing – what made you decide to do that, and what was the experience like?
The experience was a bit like receiving an oxygen tank. The Pezz fans are out of this world, and funded the deposit for vinyl pressing of LubDub. It was like jumping into the air and receiving wings from a flock of mythical birds. It’s like each person on Kickstarter contributed a feather of their own to craft Pezzettino wings, it’s really incredible. I sold my car and all my belongings to move to New York and fund this album. To have the support of my audience… to have a crew that holds me up and is along for the ride of stylistic changes… and to work with LMNtlyst on this project… there’s really nothing more I can ask for. I owe everything to these people. It’s more than family.
What is your favorite song on the record, and what does it mean to you?
My favorite song is “For You and Your Headaches”. It’s one of the first songs I wrote in 2008, and has a vulnerability that I’m returning to after a lot of SASS.
What is ‘I Did Not Use Those Words Yesterday’ about?
It’s about the regret of making a mess… about being too quick on the defense… it’s about being presented with the potential for love and then botching it. Like being presented with antique crystal glasses on a platter– then getting too excited, tripping, and breaking all the glass… that’s the specific imagery for the song.
Which gig was your favorite this year?
Verge Festival, Milwaukee. I had just moved to Brooklyn a month prior and was wrestling with a lot of anxiety, expectations, exhilaration, self-doubt and frustration. I smashed an accordion to splinters at the end of the show while performing a new song “Freefall”… it was pouring rain…
What is your greatest expectation for 2011?
Recording my opus (“Pedestrian Drama”).
We’re going to have to find out more about that later…do you make New Years’ resolutions? Want to share any with us?
I’m really hard on myself. The resolutions/ decrees/ demands/ are constantly on deck.
Okay, time for some nonsense. If you had a superpower for one day, what would it be and how would you use it?
For ONE DAY ONLY!?! Unfair. I Quit (throwing my bed sheet cape to the floor).
Do you have a hidden guilty geeky pleasure? For instance, are you a huge Doctor Who fan? How do you feel about Buffy the Vampire Slayer (very important questions around these parts)?
I think I’m a geek that’s not even extreme enough of a geek to be a Cool Geek. Do you know what I mean? Which makes me even geekier, but not in a hip way. Just “out of it.” People tell me I live “under a rock.” That’s a good way to describe me: “out of it, under a rock” Like I gave someone my website the other day and they made fun of me for writing: “http://www.” before the address. “Who does that? You’re such a geek!” he said. But I don’t think he meant it as a compliment, because he was being a pretentious New York jackass… That’s the closest to geek pride I can take. It’s not like I was a nerd in elementary school, and as a result, I’m cool now because it makes me the brilliant sexy literature guy. Although I was a total book worm in college… don’t get me started on the illicit trade of antiquities… Other than that I have a guilty indulgence in 30Rock, but that’s not really geeky…
Buffy: one of my high school crushes was obsessed with Buffy… so really, all I think about when it comes to Buffy are weird hallway kissing fantasies…
Who would play you in a movie musical about your life?
The chimney cleaner or something. The sexually active nun.
What was the last thing you ate?
Peanut M&M’s, compliments of TDBank. It pays to deposit (and withdraw all available funds immediately – the LubDub 12″ Yellow VINYL shipped a few days ago!).
Give us your favorite recipe, please.
Avocado, spoon, saltines, mouth, Go!
Any last words?
Well you know, “Keep your headphones on, kids. Turn it up, spread it like pink eye.” But also, unrelated, I woke up one morning just as the SWAT Team cornered this car on the freeway in downtown Milwaukee. I won’t spoil the news footage (google it! Fox6News), but remember the movie “Short Circuit”? Johnny Five!??! Robots save the day.
Thanks Margaret, we love you!
Images by Katie Phelps and Mike Roeder