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antiMUSIC: When did you move out to the desert? What is it about your surroundings there that made more sense than LA?

Johnette: LA was just getting so crowded. I got tired of sitting in traffic. It's as simple as that. And it was also becoming expensive. And I was thinking….I'm capable of thinking 20 years into the future and being able to see exactly how everything will play out. And I was looking after some family members…financially and whatever….so I was thinking how could I possibly sustain this in so many years. I don't know what I can do. I was born in Hollywood and know very well that you have to have a back-up plan. Desperate Housewives notwithstanding, this business has not been kind when you're over 40. So I had taken the time to learn ProTools and the technical end of things so I could continue doing this because the way things were changing with technology and the Internet and everything else. The record industry was changing and people were not giving record deals to people in my position so I knew I was going to be moving. I knew that I had to look for a place to live that was going to be less stress-inducing, less crowded, just a better quality of life. So I came out to the desert and I just fell in love with it. I have three dogs and I couldn't find anywhere to live in LA with three dogs. There's a definite magic vibe which is why people come out here. I have five acres and my little wood stove and a little cabin and my dogs. I have my drums and everything set up so that I can just wake up and play any time I want to…any time of the night of day. I don't have to worry about anything. My insurance dropped by a third. The cost of living was just crazy before. I couldn't have done this 10 years ago because we didn't have the technology. I mean now…I work on a track for two days and then I send it by satellite to the composer and it's done. It's just amazing. I mean, I tried it before in Mexico but I couldn't work. It just wasn't possible. Now it is. So it's a really wonderful time. But I really love it out here. It gives me space to hear myself think. I can just hear myself think. It's peace. And it's healthy. I rescued two tortoises since I was here. And there are some beautiful snakes and owls. It's just wonderful. Nature is a really healing thing and I'm so lucky that I can live here and do my work. I still have a lot of friends in LA so I go up sometimes to see them and eat in my favorite restaurants. But then I get to come home. It's a good balance. I like LA. I just don't like the traffic. There's just too many people. 

antiMUSIC: What does 2006 and beyond hold for Johnette Napolitano?

Johnette: I know very well that I can make all the plans in the world and then something will come along to get thrown at me. So I loosely plan out a year. I’m really introspective around my birthday and New Year’s. I want to get a lot of music done this year. And I want to get a book done this year. I meant to do that last year but I’ve been a bit lazy about it. So I’m really working at that now. I’m a reader and really admire good writing so I really don’t want to be a bad writer so I’m really shy about it. But people seem to like it and I have developed a straight-forward style and just tell stories. If I do get a book out, I’ll be really happy with this year. I want to get this other film done and I would like to do a tour on my own. Just get an acoustic guitar and go out there with or without anybody else. But I like playing that way. I like the statement it makes. I love flamenco and studied in Spain this summer. I’ve been studying for many years but finally decided to do a residency in Spain. To be abused every day in four classes…it was wonderful (laughs). 

But to me, what the country is going through right now, I really feel like the statement I need to make right now is one of minimalism. I need to go out there with an acoustic guitar and my voice and just show the power that can be had there. I don’t want to be part of a circus right now. I really don’t want to tour with an entourage and do the hedonistic party thing. I just don’t feel like it’s appropriate for me right now. I’m very concerned about the state of this country. I really think that the medium with me this year…is going to be the message. I want to get up, travel minimally. Take my stuff, get out and talk to some people. When we went out right after the war started….the confrontations were incredible. There were 18 year old marines…girls…coming up to me and saying “I’ll never buy your records again.” And I said, “You know what? Don’t. I don’t want you to buy my records. I care more about your kids then you do.” And I’ve got to do it with actions and words. And I really want to represent that this year. And present it with all the power and emotion that I have. But I don’t really need the other stuff right now. I mean, I’m not beating anybody over the head. I don’t think anybody needs that really. That’s what I like so much about Flamenco. Most of it originally was just about hands and feet and voice. And that was it. The closest you have to flamenco in the United States is blues. And that’s the only American music that Flamencos respect because it’s slave music and that’s what Flamenco is; the music of oppressed gypsies and everything else back in the day. So I really do appreciate that power and that legend of it. And I tell you, Flamenco really gets it on. It makes me cry. It just blows my mind. I’m just not really into the recreational use of electricity. It’s as simple as that. It may sound really dramatic but it’s just what I would like to convey right now. So I’m just hoping that we get through this period in some sort of way that’s intact. I’m sure we will but we will because of this awareness. 

So I kind of want to move about on my own. Also, my politics aren’t necessarily the same as Jim’s or Gabriel’s, or the band’s. And I can’t really speak for them. So I would like to be on my own and stand up and say what I want to say without having to be responsible for other people. 

antiMUSIC: Well, I could talk to you all night…I mean that literally, but you’ve been so great with your time. Thank you for talking with me. You’ve made my year and we’re only in January.

Johnette: (laughs) You’re really kind. It was fun. Thank you so much.

antiMusic and Morley Seaver thank Johnette for taking the time and wish her all the best with Sketchbook 2


Visit the Johnette's homepage

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