ERIC TINGSTAD Web-Exclusive Interview

with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David

Eric Tingstad is a songwriter, composer, record producer and phenomenal fingerstyle guitarist. His 1985 debut, The Gift, with woodwinds player Nancy Rumbel has gone on to sell over half a million copies. A multi-album contract with independent new-age music label Narada Productions led to 14 recordings from 1987 to 2004. He won a Grammy Award for Best New Age Album in 2003 for Tingstad and Rumbel’s Acoustic Garden. He talked with us about his third album in his current series of Native Americana Roots music inspired by and about the American landscape and environment, and how we interact with it.


How did the idea of the song “Mississippi” come to you?

I was intentionally trying to write the slowest tempo that I could to represent the sometimes imperceptible movement of the river—something that is hard to see change but is constantly moving. I was also attempting to bring in the human component of the generations who had watched the river from the same spot for millennia. That is where the funky whirly comes in.


What is your creative process for writing songs?

I am playing my guitar as much as possible and I have created a wonderful garden and environment to compose. Kinda like Monet. (laughs) The more I play, the more the muses flow. But I find it is important to take strategic breaks to allow the brain to do its subconscious thing and fill in the creative gaps.


Eric-Tingstad-2What songwriting tip would you like to offer?

Think of the song as a mini-movie that has to tell the whole story in 3-1/2 minutes—either lyrically or instrumentally. Pick and pay attention to other creative endeavors like photography, painting, designing, writers and employ what you see—what inspires you. Use all your senses to feel and tell your story. Also, join a song group like NSAI, Durango, SongRamp, etc. for knowledge, support and co-writing opportunities.


How do you keep song ideas fresh?

Reading, reading, reading—and intentionally putting myself in new environments, and meeting new people. Early on in my musical life’s work and recording career, it became an important notion for me to not make the same album twice. I am driven to learn new approaches and stylings, and factor in new ideas and influences.


Top 5 Musicians or Songwriters who inspired?

The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits, Peter Gabriel, Lucinda Williams. And all Blues and Country Music. (laughs)


What are your Top 5 favorite albums?

That’s almost impossible to answer because I am always moving forward and discovering new players and their music. But on release day, I always pick up the new Lucinda Williams, Mark Knopfler, Martina McBride, Bonnie Raitt and Billy Joe Shaver. I am not really a guitar player geek. I am a song geek.


One or several instruments/equipment that you can’t live without—that helps you write, record or perform?

Traphagen Classical, Martin New Yorker, Pin-Up Telecaster, and my collection of small Tweed amps.


Why are these so essential to you?

My formal music education and where I developed my right hand technique started on the classical guitar. Because the classic has the wide neck, it was a little difficult for me to convert my technique to a standard size guitar. That’s what led to using a Martin New Yorker, with the wider than usual neck for steel string acoustic. However, I wanted to adapt my abilities to the Telecaster, and so for the last couple years I have spent a lot of time woodshedding to play the narrower neck. As far as amps, I am a tone freak—so I love coaxing great sound out of small amps.


Tell us about the new album, Mississippi, and the inspiration behind it?

Almost all of the instrumental music that I write is inspired by and about the American landscape and environment, and how we as a culture interact with it. Mississippi was released in April 2015, and it is the third in my current series of Native Americana Roots music. The first album being Southwest, followed up by Badlands. The album Mississippi is about the state, the river and the complex culture that thrives in the region. It also has the sweet feature of being the cradle of American music. There is a lot to draw from with all this.


For someone who is only now discovering you and your music, what one album should they listen to—to give them some perspective on their new Eric Tingstad journey?

I would say—start with Southwest and move through Badlands. The music is a journey.


What’s next?
Later this week I am off to New Orleans for the ZMR Music Awards. Mississippi has two nominations: “Album of the Year” and “Best Contemporary Instrumental.” As a fun aside, I have a duo (and a band) with Tayla Lynn, Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter. We do Loretta covers, our own originals, and a few Miranda and Lucinda covers.


How can your new fans stay updated?


Eric Tingstad with Tayla Lynn, Loretta Lynn's granddaughter

Eric Tingstad with Tayla Lynn, Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter

comment closed

Copyright © 2016 M Music & Musicians Magazine ·