Ever since Nashville’s Tristen Gaspadarek and her vintage Epiphone Casino made a big splash with her debut album, Charlatans At The Garden Gate (2011), the Chicago native has been a rising star in Music City’s ever-growing rock scene. Today, the new Nashville that Tristen helped to inspire still defies easy description. It's part pop, part country, part Americana, part rock, and all wound up to make a big impression.
Now, seven years later and with several albums and singles in her catalog, Tristen finds herself both a veteran in that scene and a restless upstart. She remains fiercely independent. Still, she's not above laughing at herself for the inevitable pitfalls of being in charge. When we last spoke in 2018, we asked Tristen if she liked taking control of her career. "Oh, it was a terrible idea. Disaster! (Laughs) Because music is collaborative and to deny that you are getting help—ugh! No matter what I do, I have help."
Tristen recently became a Mom after the release of her latest album Sneaker Waves, and all of us at Epiphone extend our congratulations. We spoke about hew single, her new album in-progress, and what has become of Music City.
Thanks for speaking with Epiphone.com again, Tristen. I know you recently picked up an Embassy PRO Bass for your studio. How is it working out?
We love our bass. It sounds really great. Buddy (Hughen) has been playing it on the new record.
You have a new single out on May 10, “Dream Within A Dream.” What was the inspiration for the new music and how would you say your sound has progressed since your previous LP, Sneaker Waves?
I’m not exactly able to say how it’s evolving. I do know that my process has changed. I’ve been writing the songs and immediately recording and mixing them. My husband, Buddy, mixes them. It’s very freeing to be able to take the songs all the way to completion when they are still fresh and exciting.
We’ve spoken before about taking over the production reigns of your music—doing most of the recording and arranging yourselves. You were hoping that would give you a lot of freedom to hone-in/create a sound that was your own and not tied to Nashville productions styles. How is that going?
I’ve always produced and arranged my own music. My husband has recently become, very naturally, a constant collaborator in production and even some writing. I enjoy sharing music with others. I’ve never really been a part or aware of other people’s production styles. I’ve always just played and sang melodies, and thought about instruments and sounds. I wouldn’t even know how to copy. Music is intuitive.
I’m not very interested in the clean whitewashed Nashville sound, but I wouldn’t define the city’s sound by that mass produced commercial country sound. Believe it or not, we’ve been heavy contributors to indie rock with bands like the Silver Jews and Lambchop. I’ve always known Nashville by its groovy rock and roll scene.
You have some shows and festival appearances coming up. Will you be trying out new material?
Yes. New songs and both cuts from the 7” inch.
It seems like there is already a new wave of artists arriving in Nashville. How is the city for you as a creative place? Is the Nashville you once knew still underneath the surface?
Oh, of course. There are always fresh faces with something to say. The beat goes on, always. I can’t say I’m in tune with it, as the older I get, the more insular I am with friends and play time. But people will always perk your ear to a good thing here and the standards stay high.
What have you been listening to that’s influencing the sonics or attitude of your new music?
Oh, the same. I have a dream of making a Kinks record. I’m into the new Stephen Malkimus record, Groove Denied and Weyes Blood. I’d love to make a Magnetic Fields record. I don’t know that they would sneaking in but I’ve been playing my favorite music for my son Julian, like Roger Miller. ‘Trying to raise him right!
Visit Tristen's website for tour details.