Monday, June 13, 2005
A conversation with . . .
Saskia Lane talks about life with Biddies
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The Lascivious Biddies will bring their renowned mix of jazz, pop and cabaret to Blacksburg's Cellar Restaurant on June 20.
The New York-based, all-female group has been together for almost five years and played just about everywhere. The group's bassist, Saskia Lane, who also enjoys a successful chamber and orchestral career, recently shared some thoughts on being the bass player, being a Biddy and living in New York.
When did the group get together?
Saskia Lane: Four years ago ... I met the Biddies -- well they weren't quite the Biddies, but they had been playing some standards and originally got together to maybe be a Go-Go's cover band. And I ended up living above Amanda Monaco in an apartment in Harlem. I was really studying classically at that time because I moved out here for Juilliard ... And they were looking for a bass player ... and I was like, 'Oh well, I'll sit in if you need somebody,' not thinking that it would become what it's become. It changed my entire direction, musically. I never would have predicted it, and I'm so blessed that it happened because I've never had more fun on stage. For me the invisible curtain was lifted.
It's a totally different experience to play in the classical realm and then to do what you guys are doing. Are you pretty much absorbed in this now?
SL: I play with other groups on the side, but this is where my heart is, definitely. Even when I was performing classically I was always striving to connect with my audience, which is unusual especially for a bass player at the back of the orchestra. I would try to play to the person at the back of the hall and try to connect with them. I was never quite the soldier that you have to be in the orchestra, you know how you have to be the soldier following the conductor. There's a hierarchy that needs to happen there, but I need to be in an environment that allows me to be more expressive.
Even in a four-piece rock band, the bass player can be standing right up front with everybody else and still ends up being relegated to the back seat, unless he has a really up-front personality.
SL: Absolutely. There's this sort of 'they're doing their job' kind of thing that happens ... I don't know what it is, if it's a personality thing or just the nature of the role it plays in music. I definitely lucked out in that there's room for me to have a personality musically, and to sing too -- which is a whole other ball game.
Were you singing before?
SL: In school we had to do singing, but playing the bass and singing simultaneously is not something that I had ever done.
So you've put out two albums and you're working on a third, right? How do the tunes come together?
SL: Our songs are evolving. We really share that part of the music ... Somebody will bring in a tune and it sort of has an outlined structure, but then we start arranging the heck out of it and it sort of becomes 'Biddified,' as I like to say.
How much are you touring these days?
SL: It's funny you ask. Two Biddies recently got married, a month apart, so there was a slight hiatus with honeymoons and bachelorette parties and what not. So we're trying to get out and do something substantial every 30 to 60 days ... and then on the weekends it's beautiful in New York because you can just go to Connecticut for a day, you can go up to Boston. If we're not going away for a long period we'll do these short weekend Tri-State area tours.
So you said that when you met the rest of the band they weren't quite the Biddies yet.
SL: It's funny, the name existed before the band existed. Deidre [Rodman] was walking with Amanda Monaco in Canada, and they were having a chat and she said 'I always wanted to be in a band called The Lascivious Biddies,' and Amanda went, 'Hmm...' ... And then Amanda was playing in a swing band with Lee Ann and she mentioned it really casually ... and Lee Ann [Westover] totally perked up and said, 'We are that band. That is our band. We will be in that band.' She said, 'I need to meet this woman.'
They say that at a certain point you have to go to New York, or some place like it, if you want to get somewhere with music. How true do you think that is?
SL: What's amazing about it here is that there's so much happening. There's a lot of innovative music-making and there's a lot of innovative songwriting ... It seems like it's the cutting edge of what's happening in this country musically. And I feel really lucky to be able to tap into that. It's also definitely overwhelming at times. I crave the country, I crave the trees. That's part of why it's beautiful to be able to go on the road, because we're able to drive through these incredible parts of the country, and take in fresh air, and get out of the city, and meet new people and check out other music too -- because there's a lot of people that open up for us or we open up for them, and we get to see more of that, which is great.
The Lascivious Biddies will perform June 20 at The Cellar Restaurant in Blacksburg.