Indigo Girls | Looking Forward

Beauty Queen_SisterThe Indigo Girls will be performing at the Pageant Saturday night, July 21. Amy Ray took some time to talk about playing with a full band, having their own label, and how they keep it fresh after more than 25 years of performing.


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Amy Ray and Emily Sailer – Indigo Girls

I’ll be honest. I haven’t been to the Pageant or seen the Indigo Girls in concert since becoming a parent six years ago, but this will change Saturday night when the award-winning folk duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers perform at the Pageant. They will be bringing a full band, something they haven’t done in many years.

Before my concert-going drought, I was a pretty consistent attendee of Indigo Girls concerts when they were in town. From Ray’s eloquently raspy voice to the band’s harmonic perfection, the Indigo Girls bring it every time I see them. The energy they create when they step on stage coupled with their playlist of new and old songs never disappoint. Indigo Girls are on tour promoting their newest studio album, Beauty Queen Sister.

I had a chance to talk with Ray about playing with a full band, having their own label, and how they keep it fresh after more than 25 years of performing.

So you guys are playing with a full band?  How did this come to be and does it take some time to get used to?

It’s really new –we haven’t toured with a band in probably six years. We met these five guys in Atlanta a couple years ago and we really loved their music. We asked them to come out and open for us. As we watched them play, we realized they were really great – covering a vast musical territory with lots of harmonies – and we felt they would be a lot of fun to play with. We took some time to learn a set of music together and, after three rehearsals and a week of shows we got up to speed. They are so good. They just have a knack – maybe because they played a lot of parties and they had to play a lot of cover songs or something (she laughs). They were really able to hook right in.

I saw your intense tour schedule –you must be getting a little exhaustedwhat keeps you focused and energized?

Honestly, it’s a tight schedule, but it’s what we know. It’s fine – we don’t have as much energy as we had in our twenties – on these tours there’s time to sleep and there’s time to work out and exercise and those things you have to do to stay healthy. We do four shows in a row at the most. We’ve always made sure our schedule gives us enough time to be grounded and rested and have energy for the show, so it’s not like we are going through the motions when we are playing. We want to be there. That’s a good thing.

And I would guess the audience helps energize you?

Yes, them and the people playing on stage – everybody. There are so many things to draw your energy from – every town’s different – that’s the way I look at it. Other people look at it different ways. I find my energy in weird places. And a lot of different places – because I find that if I do, that it’s always fresh.

How does having your own label affect your ability to put out the album you want to put out?

We kind of got tired of being a part of that other world (the band was on Epic Records from 1988 to 2005 and Hollywood Records from 2006 to 2007) – it wasn’t working for us so we started our own label. It’s really just for our own records. We are distributed through Vanguard so we have a lot of capacity and a lot of infrastructure. We have the best of both worlds. When you own your own label, you have more discretion as to how the money is spent and how the record is marketed. For us, it doesn’t make sense to be on a major label because we would just get lost in the shuffle. So we might as well do it for ourselves because we would be doing it for ourselves anyway.

It’s been over 25 years since first album,  how do you keep it fresh?

It has been like 27 years. We try not to look at it as like, “well, we have our hits so that was our career, so let just rest on those laurels and play those all the time.” We try to look forward and make records that exist within that space. Be in the moment that we are in. We don’t look back very often–we don’t count the years, count the records and go look at what we have done. We look forward. We have different openers that we were inspired by and influenced by – it would give us energy too. All those kinds of things keep it exciting for us. It’s really about having new musical input and inspiration for me.

Do you find that songs come to you at strange times or do you set aside specific time to actually sit down and write your songs?

I write all the time – I don’t wait for inspiration. Probably 8 months out of the year, I’m writing maybe 5 days a week – a few hours a day. Even on the road. I just have to do that because it takes me awhile to write and I find it is better for me if it is a discipline. I mean, everything is inspiring – all the time –there are so many things in life to write about. But if you wait until the divine moment, it doesn’t really happen, so you have to sit there – you have to be in the chair, you know, to get that divine moment. And so, I am in the chair a lot. I sit in my writing space – I create a space wherever I am and I started doing that about 12 years ago and it just really helped me have a discipline around it.

For ticket for the show at The Pageant visit their site at For more information on the Indigo Girls visit their site at

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