Alina Simone is what we in the business call “A Triple Threat”. She sings like a sultry bird; writes like a hawk and is funnier than Big Bird and Larry Bird combined. That is to say, I’m a big fan of her work and stalked her with a few questions so that I may share her thoughts and relationship advice with Guyspeak Nation.
Miss Simone, or Alina Simone as normal people call her, is currently on tour to support her new album Make Your Own Danger, and book, You Must Go And Win. Yes, she’s that talented to have written a memoir that’s earning rave reviews and release a full length album on the same day. An album that even Pitchfork had to admit was a 7.2 (Note: I think Pitchfork only gave Kid A a 3.2 and Kanye’s last release a 6.1) (Double Note: That’s a lie, but Pitchfork is very tough).
Anyway, I “sat down” (emailed) Alina some questions that pertained to Guyspeak’s core mission and overlapped with her latest works. If you’ve caught up with all your Guyspeak reading and gave up on Angry Birds for the day, please do yourself a favor and check out Alina’s unique voice and pen.
Funny Guy: In ‘Imaging the Other’ you share what it’s like to be lost and to try to find yourself through capturing someone else’s footsteps – your childhood friend, Amanda Palmer (Dresden Dolls). Do you think studying others is a good way to learn about yourself?
Alina Simone: I think undertaking a documentary project of any kind — film, journalism, photography — is a great way to learn more about yourself, if you go into it with an open mind. You are basically committing yourself to seeing the world through
someone else’s eyes. So it’s bound to change you, unless you go into it with a closed
FG: Do you think women, more so than men, have those kinds of friendships where there’s an alpha chick and a beta babe? Is it a dynamic to avoid?
AS: Sure. I think that power dynamic replicates itself in a ton of situations with bosses, friends, parents, etc. But that’s not to say it’s necessarily unhealthy or bad. Myself? I enjoyed playing the “straight man” to Amanda’s flamboyant, fame-seeking self.
FG: A lot of your writing points to feeling different or like a weird little duckling? Why is that? Do you think that the world still has a narrow view of what a woman should look, feel, sound, act like? Any advice to women who don’t fit “the” mold?
AS: I feel like a weird little duckling! The thesis of my book is probably: I am a weird little duckling and you shouldn’t be afraid to be one too. In terms of narrow
viewpoints, I guess I do feel a bit smushed by people’s conception of what an indie
rocker should be like. These journalists ask me in hushed tones, “Can I ask how old
you are?” And I’m like, “Yeah, I’m thirty-six, I’m married. I just had a baby. Do
you want to talk about breast-feeding?”
FG: You got married at what you (and I) consider a pretty young age. How did you know Josh was the one? And, any advice to women thinking about tying the knot before climbing tons of other trees?
AS: I like your mixed knot-tying, tree-climbing metaphors! The best description of knowing that you’ve found “the one” that I’ve ever heard is, It feels like you just met a member of your own family. That’s how I felt about Josh. Still feel! We
started dating when I was 17. He was my high school boyfriend. And I remember
the day we met feeling exactly that way — like I’d just met a long-lost member of
my own family.
FG: You write, you sing, you play instruments. One, why are you annoyingly talented? And, two, how do you personally rate these mediums in terms of letting you express yourself? Any advice for those who are trying to let their feelings out but haven’t found their outlet yet?
AS: I am actually an alien from the Planet Xombero sent here to melt the mind of the President with my variety of talents so that Uckar the Suction God can take over America.
For me, making music is a very physical thing, and a very cathartic, bodily way to
express myself. I get to literally bang on things and yell. And I do! Whereas writing
is obviously more cerebral. Finding your outlet is a tough one. That’s one of the
mysteries of life. All I can say is that for writer’s just starting out (or too afraid to
start) I highly recommend reading Stephen King’s “On Writing.”
FG: Your husband is a Yale professor; you are the Queen of the arts. Do you think this dichotomy has helped the relationship? Do you think couples that are too similar can be a long term problem?
AS: I am very glad my husband isn’t an artist and I think he’s grateful that I’m not an academic. I’m sure it works great for some couples, but I wouldn’t ever want to deal with icky feelings of professional jealousy getting in the way of a nice night on the couch with some choice Netflix and a bottle of wine.
FG: Do you write love songs?
AS: Only in the most crushingly dark way.
FG: Did you ever use your music chops to pick up guys?
AS: Uh-uh. That should be a reality show, though.
FG: Can you share your most brutal being dumped experience?
AS: You’re talking to a girl who married her high-school boyfriend. I’d have to reach back to middle-school and my memory isn’t that good…
FG: Fair enough. Would you rather have a scrotum for a nose, or two penisi for ears?
AS: Ok Amit, you’re killing me. I died. (Upon further pushing) Well, given my druthers, I’d replace every available dangling limb with a scrotum!
FG: Where can our readers pick up your book and new album?
AS: Lots of independent (and dependent!) bookstores and record stores. On the web your best bet is Amazon, Powell’s, iTunes, or my Bandcamp page: http://alinasimone.bandcamp.com/
FG: Thank you, Miss Simone! AKA Alina Simone.
AS: You are very welcome.