It has been over ten years since Lilith Fair, the all-female music tour, hit festival stages across the country and, like its namesake, the tour has experienced a significant fall from grace. Unlike the Lilith Fair of the late 1990s, the 2010 version has reportedly suffered from low ticket sales, griping about less-than-stellar lineups, and date cancellations. In an era where female acts, both mainstream and indie, have gained much more exposure and respect, is there really a need for a festival devoted solely to women performers?
Sarah McLachlan and company say yes and, despite the problems mentioned above, were able to corral a surprisingly diverse group of talent. Yes, you still have your Indigo Girls and your Sheryl Crows, but the second stage is littered with a sundry lineup that includes indie darlings like Brooklyn’s Chairlift (fronted by Caroline Polacheck) and Los Angeles’ The Submarines (fronted by Blake Hazard).
We caught up with five ladies performing in the festival for the first time — check them out in a city near you.
1. Blake Hazard of The Submarines
Performing in: Seattle, WA and San Francisco, CA
Along with co-band member John Dragonetti, Blake Hazard has created some of the best indie pop this decade. Once a couple, the duo used the pain and tension of their break-up to create their debut album Declare a New State! Their second album, Honeysuckle Weeks, enjoyed wider exposure when two of its tracks were used in commercials for Apple’s iPhone.
Flavorpill: The first album deals with your break-up with John and, especially on songs like “Brighter Discontent,” the lyrics are very raw and real. During the recording process, was it awkward to have John hear your most intimate thoughts on the break-up?
Blake Hazard: I think we’ve both tried to make a sort of leap when we present songs to each other. We try to hone in on their merits as songs and not whether we like what the other was saying in them. But of course it would be impossible to ignore and unwitting states-of-the-union. Because we worked so closely on this latest record, we sort of wrote in character a bit and opened up by fooling ourselves in that way. Playing the songs night after night is another story. Sometimes you just lose yourself in the performance and other times it feels like we’re singing right to each other.
FP: It’s been over two years since your last album Honeysuckle Weeks — when can we expect a new Submarine’s album and what new ground would you like to cover with a third record?
BH: We’ve been mixing tracks with the fantastic John O’Mahoney, who has worked on some spectacular records, so to be sure the sound is a bit bigger this time around. We’re only just now getting used to the songs themselves. We let ourselves sink a bit deeper and to explode with joy. It’s a dynamic record and I can’t wait to play the songs live.
FP: You’re getting ready to play the 2010 Lilith Fair festival — are there any other performers that you’re most excited to meet or see perform?
BH: Well, there are different people on each bill so there are some that I’m sad not to possibly encounter backstage. But some of my earliest influences are playing Lilith like Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Mary J. Blige, and Beth Orton, as well as some acts I just really love like Metric, Tegan and Sara, and Cat Power. It’s an amazing lineup.
FP: As a duo, how does John feel about playing a festival dedicated to female performers? Will you be performing any of the songs that he sings lead on?
BH: He’s totally into it. I think we both see it as, above all, to play with bands and artists that we’re honored to share a bill with. And I’m sure he won’t mind the multitude of ladies. We both think the Lilith mission is an excellent one from the start. And yes, he’ll sing!