Tristan Prettyman: “Honest, But Not Bitter”

The tale of Tristan Prettyman that occurred in the half a decade between her last LP, Hello, and her third, and latest, Cedar + Gold (released last October) sounds...

The tale of Tristan Prettyman that occurred in the half a decade between her last LP, Hello, and her third, and latest, Cedar + Gold (released last October) sounds like a thing of blockbuster cinema and New York Times bestsellers.  A bit bored with the life of a successful musician, the singer/songwriter packed up, traveled from Bali to Australia and Europe, got engaged to her long-time love, got left by her long-time love, and finally, re-connected with the notion of what it is to be a sentient being… It’s all quite romantic in an existential kind of way.  The experience resulted in Cedar + Gold… not surprisingly, her best album yet… Although the break had her re-thinking whether she was interested in continuing with music, the album has her more passionately explosive than any other point in her decade-long career.  The album is a breakup album, but an empoweringly peppy breakup album.  It’s the perfect kind of folk pop… accessible and catchy, but with a sincere soul that studio engineers are yet to master crafting.  Well, Tristan has been on the road for nearly a year now and she’s ready for another, hopefully not-quite-so-extensive, break.  However, she is still on the road and will be making a stop downstairs at Philadelphia’s World Café Live on March 13th.  I recently got a chance to chat with Tristan about her current state of mind, just how she got there, and where she’s planning on going from here.

 Tristan Prettyman photo 2

Izzy Cihak: What can Philadelphia expect of your March 13th date?

Tristan Prettyman: Even I don’t know! It will depend on the weather and the day and the crowd. I never know what’s gonna happen.  It’s always a good time though! Philly is one of my favorite places to play.

IC: You’re currently supporting your third studio album, Cedar + Gold.  Do you have a favorite album track, or one which you feel like best sums up where you are musically, as of right now?  I’m particularly fond of opener “Second Chance,” for its brash sassiness and “Come Clean,” as a soberly honest ballad.

TP: Oh, that’s awesome. We’ve been opening with “Second Chance” and it’s a real power anthem. I love it. I love a lot of songs on this record, mostly ‘cause I feel like they just came flying out of nowhere and allowed me to put every last little bit of everything I was feeling/wanted-to-say into the songs.

IC: Do you have any particular favorite critical responses to the album?  Possibly one that you feel like best “gets” your current state of mind?

TP: I really love the reviews that describe the album as honest, but not bitter. That was one of my concerns. How do I stand up for myself and share my truth and, at the same time, come from a place of love, and being grateful that it all even happened in the first place?

IC: What are your biggest influences and inspirations, whether musical or non-musical?

TP: Oh, I mean I try to pay attention more to the world around me. And listen, closely, when people are sharing with me. For a while there, before this album, I was very closed-off, numb, uninspired. But I’ve had a lot of moments and situations that helped me peel a lot of layers off. And eventually I started feeling again. So, for me, it’s all about staying open, and raw, and accessible. To life, and people, and feelings, and views. I feel everything these days. I’m pretty sensitive. But it’s good. I don’t mind being vulnerable so much anymore.

IC: “Say Anything” is featured in the Nicholas Sparks film, Safe Haven, which is quite a big film.  Do you have any places (or placements) where you secretly (or not-so-secretly) dream of your music winding up… whether entirely realistic or not?

TP: Hmmm… No one has ever asked me that. I am so behind. I hardly ever get to the movies. Although I did see Life of Pi on Valentines Day, and watched Silver Linings Playbook in the hotel the other night. Both are excellent! I haven’t even seen Safe Haven, but I think we may all go tomorrow on our day off! We just played an Oscar party for Harvey Weinstein…Maybe he will name a movie after one my songs and it could be the theme song! That’d be huge!

IC: What are you most excited for in 2013, beyond this tour?

TP: I am excited to soak it up on tour, and sing my heart out, and also look forward to relaxing at home, cooking, and having a routine. (We’ve been on the road since June.) I try to be present wherever I am, whatever I may be doing. I find the more I stay in the moment, the less overwhelmed I get. It’s all about balance for me. It reminds me of a yoga class: work hard and at the end of it you can have as long of a savasana as you like. 🙂


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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.