She has lived life on the razors edge and her music is drawn from her life experiences of joy and pain that live divided on either side of it. Living on this edge she has become an expert at wielding the razor and carving something like gold from each side of the razor. In a conversation with GRAMMY nominated Beth Hart the thing that you will find most compelling about her was her is her humility. It is what gives Hart the ability to mine the emotions she is the most uncomfortable with and pours into her music. They are the kind of emotions most people would be uncomfortable looking at in themselves and the ability to look into those uncomfortable places is what keeps her honest. Promoting her latest record, “Better Than Home,” Beth Hart’s U.S. tour is about to embark with Los Angeles dates including the Hollywood Bowl on August 10 and at The Canyon Club on September 7 in Agoura Hills, but before Hart takes off, she took time out to talk with www.theartofla.com about what makes her tick.
- What is your first musical memory and do you think it still has influenced you today?
My first musical memory is hearing Beethoven on a commercial selling pianos. They were playing Moonlight Sonata and I was really young. I was four. It totally stopped me in my tracks . It blew my mind. I couldn’t believe something could sound like that.
- Where do you draw your inspiration when you go to write your music?
Unfortunately, it tends to be some sort of dramatic thing. It’s got to be like major drama, fear, pain or concern and worry. Some kind of failure. Or meeting someone who has been through something unbelievably tough. Also from an extreme place of forgiveness or learning some lesson I never thought I would learn, it makes me humble and grateful. Or extreme joy.
- So would you say your mind is processing these emotions?
Oh God, for sure. It’s a place to go that is so healing. Even if I don’t end up writing a song I’m going to do something with, on a record or whatever, I always take away a wonderful experience from it. It’s like if you face something, whether it goes your way or not, there is a good feeling with that.
- What do you hope people take away from your music?
Whatever they need. I know I get so much out of it. I feel a spiritual connection. I feel a sense of hope. I also feel it’s ok in my craziness and in my crap to feel that way. It’s part of the human condition. It’s feeling of a sense of belonging to something though I don’t belong. I try not to go with the thinking but with the truth. It’s ok to be yourself.
- You have this platform to reach people. Do you ever feel like besides your own personal therapy that you have a responsibility to say something as an artist about certain issues?
No because that would be taking myself too seriously. I come from a place of being just another human being and making my way through life. When I make the music, it’s totally from a place of humility. It’s never about me. If I ever think I’m making the music, it’s always a shit song. I step out of the way where it is going to come through, I leave it that. I don’t believe for anyone in the arts you have a responsibility to “this.” It’s about wanting to change the way you are in order to get approval. I think that is the death of any art. Fuck the approval. Make it about whatever is coming up and trust that. Even if it means a lot of people are turned away. Even means if a lot of people go: ‘ewww I don’t like what you stand for.’ I think it’s better to risk that in your artistry, than try to get the vote of you’re you’re hey you’re great.’ I think any time that reputation becomes one of the focal points it turns from being sincere to something thought out. I really don’t believe in thought. It’s one of things that get us most in trouble.
- What is your best day as an artist so far?
It’s always the writing. It’s the closest I feel to spirit. That is where I feel my most safe. Performing is fun but it can fuck around with the ego. I love to perform because my ego loves it. With the writing, it’s all about finding the truth. I struggle with that. I struggle with really feeling the truth and being able to say it because I’m human and have ego. I think when I feel the most free from that when i go to piano because it’s like going to church for me and kneeling down before God and saying I need your help so it’s a humble place for me.
- You’ve collaborated with a ton of artists. Is there anyone that is your favorite?
Someone who I have never collaborated with but I have always wanted to and is one of my favorites is Tom Waits. I adore him. His writing is off the hinges. It’s so great, real and Americana. But in terms of the people have worked with I would probably say Jeff Beck. He is the ultimate stepping out on risk taking in being a guitarist, performer and being a writer. He is so courageous about that. He amazes me even at this point because he is such a legend. I think he does get nervous but his nervousness more so comes from wanting to stay in that truth. I remember one time he said to me, as soon as you get comfortable as a writer and you feel like got this thing down, if you stay there, you are going just going to fade away. He said to put yourself in uncomfortable positions in your music and you will continue to grow and be humble at the same time. Feel uncomfortable, even if you don’t feel like you know what you are doing, that is the place to be. I love what Jeff Beck stands for as artist and what he has been able to do as artists on that guitar no one can do that. No one gets those sounds. It’s so beautiful, I love him so much.
- How do you keep that balance act of being so raw as an artist and at the same time maintaining your sanity?
I love your question. I don’t know. But I think for me, especially dealing with chemical imbalances with my mind and having a difficult time coming up I’m struggling in my life and I always have. Dealing with self worth and all these things. So it gets in my way a lot. I’ll give you example. I’m trained pretty intensely with singing, but when I go out, not feeling especially secure that night all throw away everything I’ve learned to take care of myself and I’ll fucking murder my throat. Or my use of alcohol or drugs in my past, there is a lot of self-destructiveness. There is a lot of pressure in this business. So it’s like the only thing that gets me well when I’m crazed is prayer and going before God and saying, ‘I can’t do any of this on my own.’ Never have been able to, never will be able to ‘please guide me and send me angel, a Holy Spirit that will protect me from myself.’ ‘Please keep me strong or where you need me to be.’ It always boils down to that spiritual connection for me because my natural way is not healthy.
- What are you most excited about on the U.S. tour?
I’m most excited for us to go out and connect especially in the U.S. Because there was so many years that I didn’t play in the U.S. its exciting but at the same time I’m thinking can I connect with my own people and bring something they can connect with. I want to connect with my audiences like a family and be thankful we are alive. It’s about the beautiful celebration of life. I feel like I’m making more headway in the States and I’m doing my best. More will be revealed.