If you search singer/songwriter/actress/icon Nellie McKay on Google, you'll find people describing her as "a kitten with a whip", "a lollapalooza", "a total original", an "an old soul." Timeout New York once called her "fearlessly sharp and fabulously bonkers."
Singer/songwriter/actress/goddess Nellie McKay released a debut double album called Get Away From Me in 2004. I wasn't quite sixteen, was just getting into music, and must have read about it in one of my loyal magazine subscriptions (at the time, Spin and Blender were both gods). Many, many years later, my music tastes have shifted, as have Ms. McKay's. She's gone on to release everything from jazz to pop to folk to rap. She's performed on Broadway, she's released six albums (two of covers), she's been featured on Weeds and Boardwalk Empire, she once wrote a marijuana Christmas song, and she's a vocal feminist who has performed at events for Planned Parenthood.
Her 2009 album, Normal as Blueberry Pie, is a tribute to Doris Day, and an album I listen to before bed most nights. For lack of a more fitting phrase, I'm a total fanboy for Nellie McKay, someone I've been listening to almost half of my life, and it's such an honor to have her on my website. Look out for her touring the country this year as a cast member of A Girl Named Bill: The Life and Times of Billy Tipton.
Hey, how's it going? Can you describe your surroundings for us?
furry walls, matching bookends, three long polka-dotted chaise lounges, a sparkling melody on the victrola.
It's summer camp and as an ice breaker, you have to tell the room one unique thing about yourself. What do you say?
I love to party!!! Who's holding? Only Liberace can cure my insomnia.
What is your ideal creative space?
When you first began releasing music, did you see it going in the direction of theater and cinema? Can we expect more of this from you down the road?
It is nice to tell a story.
You cover numerous genres with your musical releases. Are there any styles you haven't experimented with that you would like to?
Skiffle sounds like fun!
If you could go back in time to any particular decade, which would you choose?
The 1920s, when pitbulls were America's favorite nanny dogs...or I would join the Hazda tribe in Africa pre-colonization...OR be Myrna Loy.
Your album of Doris Day covers is one of my favorites to play as I study/read. Has she always been one of your main influences?
Yes, I listened to her in school and flunked out - remember what they say: 'Mozart is for scholars but Kappelhoff's for whores'...her sunny outlook, dance chops and excellent posture have somehow passed me by - her work on behalf of animals is ahead of its time - the Doris Day Animal League advocates for legislation to end cruelty and respect all creatures as sentient beings worthy of consideration.
Now that it's 2017, what's the future looking like for you?
We will be touring with the show A GIRL NAMED BILL - The Life and Times of Billy Tipton.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
Use birth control and check out 'Death of the Liberal Class' by Chris Hedges - relevant to everything and there's an especially pertinent section on arts. Also, 'Animal Liberation' by Peter Singer - it will help your work.
Any final words of wisdom/thoughts/shout-outs?
Animal agriculture is the #1 cause of climate change - not just because of the industry's emissions (it produces more than all global transport combined) but because of the clearcutting of land for cattle in places such as the Amazon rainforest - destroying centuries worth of plant life and undergrowth, the biomass needed to absorb carbon. aAy environmental advocate who does not address the need to change our collective diet and end our government's systemic support of the meat and dairy industry (through subsidies and propaganda) is doomed to failure. The film 'Cowspiracy' is must-see