St. Paul, Minn. — Ani DiFranco says she was going through a period when she felt alone -- as a person and as a musician. Rather than get depressed, she decided to go with it. She set up some mikes and connected them to an old 8-track reel-to-reel machine, and began laying down some tunes.
Looking back, DiFranco says it was an arduous experience.
I have always garnered inspiration from performing live for people, even when the audiences were tiny. That is sort of the epicenter of my creativity -- performance. I deliberately dedicate myself to it in those moments when I desperately want to stay home.
"You do a take -- the perfect take you think is maybe the one, and then you walk back and you realize that maybe the guitar didn't go to tape," DiFranco says. "So it was this very frustrating process, to not have help, or a voice of reason in the room -- ever. But it was also very instructive, and sort of liberating in a way."
Educated Guess is a collection of songs and poems exploring DiFranco's familiar themes -- love, dissent and feminism. The recording is rough at times, with the pops and crackles of the tape left for all to hear, as well as the occasional passing train.
DiFranco says she's always writing songs. She says when she's in Minneapolis she'll play material on the album, which just arrived in the stores a few days ago. But she'll also play new material. DiFranco has toured regularly for 15 years now. She calls it her life's work.
"You certainly don't always feel able or ready, or willing," she admits. "I was taught a pretty strong work ethic by my parents, which I think helps, and then just an overall appreciation for what I do, just a gratitude."
But DiFranco says as exhausting as touring can be, it actually fortifies her.
"I have always garnered inspiration from performing live for people, even when the audiences were tiny. Because that is sort of the epicenter of my creativity -- performance. I deliberately dedicate myself to it in those moments when I desperately want to stay home."
When asked what people should expect from her show in Minneapolis she says she doesn't know.
"It's kind of the thing that I decide that day, when I walk into a building and try to get a feeling for it, and I try to write a set list that reflects the energy in the air and I try to anticipate the evening," DiFranco says. "But basically, 'girl and guitar' is what we are talking about. I am still touring solo and really enjoying focusing in on the audience and the songs solely in performance once again."