Sherman Baker and Autumn Sky’s dueling interviews
Sherman Baker and Autumn Sky share album-release party
Sherman Baker and Autumn Sky may actually have a lot in common. They’re from the same block. They also have new albums this month. His is Seventeenth Street, a folkie ode to woe, and hers is The Hallelujah Chorus, an indie blowout. And Baker and Sky will grace the same stage this Saturday for a double-album release gig. So, why not a dueling SN&R interview?
Autumn, you seem eternally optimistic. Sherman, your album’s songs are raw accounts of troubling times. You’re opposites.
Autumn Sky: I definitely won’t deny that I do come off as being a happy person. I am a happy person. I honestly don’t know how I’m not jaded yet; by all accounts, I should be more messed up by now. But I think I either just have a fantastically evolved filter, or maybe I just am easily pleased by the little, beautiful things around me.
Either way, I think that what Sherman and I have in common is an overwhelming willingness to overshare about our personal struggles and fears and stories in front of hundreds of strangers.
Sherman Baker: Basically, I like to be surrounded by beautiful, talented women as much as possible. Much better than smelly dudes that take everything too seriously. …
As different as Autumn is in personality—and we are pretty much polar opposites—we are very similar in musical background. We like a lot of the same music, and there is an exuberance and dedication that is enviable and something I can learn from.
If you were going to write a song about each other, what would it be called?
Baker: Autumn has enough creepy dudes writing songs about her. Ha-ha!
Sky: “I Have a Lot of Cats.” And it would be a duet between him and his cats.
Sherman, I dig your love of cats.
Baker: I have two cats, Tiny Boots and Tony Bologna. I just wrote a song called “Tiny Boots” that will probably go on the next record. … I love them more than anyone I’ve ever known, honestly.
You both live in Midtown, which definitely influenced Seventeenth Street, right Sherman?
Baker: I lived on 17th near Broadway at the lowest point in my life. There was a lot of drug action, or at least I knew where to find it. … I see things differently these days, because I am healthy and have a better outlook. I think there’s a lot of poverty, despair and addiction in Sacramento, though. That’s pretty hard to ignore.
Tell me about the songs, then.
Baker: On Seventeenth Street, things are obviously pretty dark. I don’t subscribe to the “artists must be tortured to be good” theory at all, so the new songs I’ve been working on are less pained and heartbroken. … [But] I want to avoid romanticism in my songs at this point. I’m in my mid-30s and don’t have time for escapist, Coldplay-type crap.
Autumn, your new band is sharp, catchy. I think people underestimate you.
Sky: I think that the trouble with starting out in Sacramento as a very young—16!—and inexperienced musician is that people remember you from way back then, when you were still learning and figuring out who you were. Then suddenly, they come out to a show again and realize somewhere between then and now you’ve begun to take what you do seriously. But that’s OK; I know I’d think the same thing in their place. I like proving myself. … Challenge accepted. Come to the show.
What will they hear at the gig?
Sky: I’ve actually just had the most rewarding spurt of creativity I’ve experienced yet this year; 2011 was personally the worst year of my life, and it sort of shook me to the core. Having to get over the hill and rediscover who I am sort of set this unquenchable fire in me to write it all down. I let go of feeling embarrassed or restrained and just wrote.
Random question of the week: Where’s your favorite place for brunch?
Baker: I used to like Lucky Cafe, because it was cheap and I have a moral thing against waiting in trendy lines full of girls with Juicy Couture for eggs—Portlandia episode-esque. I really can’t stand waiting for breakfast.
Sky: My heart is wrapped in a crepe from Crepeville.