Billed as “Nashville’s best-kept secret” by The Boston Globe, Tristen Gaspadarek, who performs as Tristen, is known as a dynamic entertainer. She just released her new CD, “Sneaker Waves,” and is touring with Los Angeles, California-based singer-songwriter Jenny-O. The two team up with special guest Mirror Travel for a show that promises a rich tapestry of independent, alternative female artistry.
Tristen, Jenny-O and Mirror Travel will perform Tuesday (Sept. 12) from 7-10 p.m. at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west. Cover is $10. Call (575) 758-1900.
Both a singer-songwriter and a poet, Tristen published her first poetry book, “Saturnine,” in November 2016 with Cosmic Thug Press. “Sneaker Waves” was released in July of this year.
“I went into making this record with 30 songs and I made the entire record at my house. It took me a couple of years sorting through songs,” said Tristen in a phone interview with Tempo. “One of the big things we focused on was letting each song be what it was going to be.”
Tristen narrowed down her selection to 11 songs. Letting each song be what it was going to be included keeping a certain level of simplicity and bringing in instrumentation particular to each song.
The performer studied relational group and organizational communication at DePaul University. When asked if her studies influenced her approach to music, she replied, “I learned how to write in college. I learned how to learn and find things I was interested in learning about. … I got to study theories of love, theories of persuasion. … I could take classes like ‘Women in the Workplace in the 21st Century.’ … We were really looking at the way people communicate in different groups. I think it really changed who I was. … I took all kinds of amazing classes. … My college got me thinking about things – and writing.”
Tristen said she draws inspiration for her songs from everything she does, from conversations, Joseph Campbell and TV shows. She said she tries to write her songs about something specific and make her ideas clear through her lyrics. “I really love lyrics that are open and have no meaning, but I’ve never been that way,” Tristen added.
The musician said she is “super excited” to play in Taos with Jenny-O and Mirror Travel. Tristen will bring her band and play songs from all of her albums.
Jenny-O draws on 1960s and ‘70s musical influences and has been compared to Harry Nilsson, Judee Sill and J.J. Cale. She was named one of the 10 best young L.A. singer-songwriters by LA Weekly in 2014. In 2015, she won the Holly Prize/ Songwriters Hall of Fame.
On Aug. 4, 2017, Jenny-O released “Peace and Information.” She said the album’s songs are about different subjects that consumed her at the time she wrote them. “I was inspired by my own relationships, despair, witnessing and hoping to ease the suffering of others and the ‘great Pacific garbage patch,’” Jenny-O said.
During the period when she crafted “Peace and Information,” Jenny-O was living in a log cabin that used to be owned by Jimmy Buffett. “I rented a room in an old house that was once his,” explained Jenny-O. “The whole thing was dark wood. My room, where I spent most of my time, had a high, vaulted ceiling and windows on three sides, surrounded by trees. I never lived anywhere as pretty as that. It was also the cheapest rent I’ve ever paid. But the house was already sold when I moved in – so after eight months, it was demolished to make several rental units. New Nashville.”
After the cabin was bulldozed, Jenny-O returned to Los Angeles and finished recording her album with producer Jonathan Wilson (Father John Misty, Conor Oberst, Dawes). The record was tracked and mixed in 17 days and has a variety of sounds from synthesizers to grunge guitar and bossa nova. Jenny-O said she is “very excited to be in Taos for the first time.” She will be traveling with her friend, Rachel, and the two will be performing songs off of “Peace and Information,” as well as older songs.
Esquire Magazine has described Mirror Travel as sounding “like Neil Young playing live from the bottom of a well.” The band was formed in 2003 by Lauren Green (vocals, guitar) and Tiffanie Lanmon (guitar, drums). The two met in high school in Belton, Texas, and started playing together. Both have played with other bands, but this is their most long-term project. For a number of years, the band was based in Austin, Texas, and now Mirror Travel has relocated to Taos and been joined by Meredith Stoner on bass.
When asked what prompted the move to Taos, Green said, “I came here to kinda take a break from Austin and wanted to learn woodworking. I did that at [University of New Mexico], decided to stick around – and these cool cats came around.”
Mirror Travel has played out around town at a few locations since coming here, but has mostly been focused on creating a new album. The move to Taos enabled the three to have a dedicated practice space, and they have been making good use of it.
Compared to Mirror Travel’s first full-length album, “Mexico,” and the group’s EP, “Cruise Deal,” the bandmates’ new CD will be more experimental and emotive with complex songwriting and a conscientious layering of sounds.
For more information, visit Tristen at tristen.com, Jenny-O at jennyo.com and Mirror Travel at hmirrortravel.biz. Call the venue at (575) 758-1900.