This February Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside released my favorite album of 2013, Untamed Beast. The album is a confrontationally sassy amalgam of Americana, soul, garage, rockabilly, and Southern rock that, to me, sounds quite a bit like post-riot grrrl with a Southern twang. The Portland, Oregon-based outfit is brashly badass and crassly fun-loving in equal measures. They’ve already played Philadelphia twice this year, with a March show supporting Thao and the Get Down Stay Down at Underground Arts and a July headlining date at Milkboy. However, Sallie Ford and crew are going to be making a third stop in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection this Sunday, November 3rd, at the North Star Bar, alongside Mount Moriah and Pine Barons. I recently got a chance to chat with Sallie Ford about what she’s been up to in 2013, and she tells me that it’s actually been a relatively low-key year for her: “I just had a lot of time off in Portland. I’ve been writing a lot and I did a few little tours.” Sallie tells me that some of her biggest recent highlights were actually the music videos for “Party Kids” and “They Told Me”: “Making the music videos was really cool. For the one for ‘Party Kids’ we did it with our friend at our favorite bar in Portland, Landmark Saloon. But I loved the messages of both of those videos and how they went along with the themes of the record.” She also tells me that she just really enjoys getting to live in Portland, in general.
“I love it here. A lot of artists move here from other places. It’s interesting because it’s a small-knit community, but also a big city and it’s easy to live here, if you want to live a sustainable lifestyle, if you’re an artist. You can bike everywhere and there’s a great public transportation system.”
When we start discussing her current string of dates, Sallie tells me that she’s very happy about getting to go out with North Carolina folk rock trio Mount Moriah: “I’m excited to go out with a female-fronted band, which is a big deal to me. They approached us and I didn’t really know their music, but I was definitely intrigued.” And when I ask her about her own approach to touring and playing live, she tells me that she appreciates an interactive experience. “We all try to interact with the crowd. We love getting to know them after we’re done playing. I just like to feel like I’m hanging out with the audience.” She goes on to add that she enjoys when she doesn’t feel like she’s “the talent”: “I like to be laid back and feel like I’m one of them.” And apparently all of Sallie’s experiences in Philly and with Philly audiences have been good ones: “I really like going there. I always love coming to Philly and eating exotic Asian food. I just remember the last time I was there [at Milkboy] it was extremely hot – in the middle of this crazy heat wave, but it was cool and the crowd was really fun.” After Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside’s East Coast tour wraps on November 7th, with a show opening for Mavis Staples in Cambridge, Massachusetts, they head to Europe for a month of dates and then December 17th will see the release of the band’s ironically titled Summer EP. I ask Sallie what’s in the work for 2014 and she tells me that she’s hoping to be busy with new music, music that hopefully explores her sonic limits and all of her musical loves.
“I think I’m just gonna be writing and recording. I’ve been working on some new stuff and it’s going in a very new direction, but still with that old feel. I love ‘60s music. Like I love The Monks and Skeeter Davis and The Sonics, but then I also really love T. Rex. I like to be inspired by music, but not too much. There’s no reason to do something so specifically retro. For the first record I was really into blues stuff and jazz stuff, but lately I’ve been getting more into rocking. I like to do anything that has energy to it.”