Interview with the Artist of the Week: Abby Bernstein

Abby is so passionate about the music she listens to and creates. She was recently the opening act for the Barenaked Ladies tour. She also has had her songs featured on various TV shows including HBO’s hit show ‘Girls’. We had the pleasure to talk to Abby so check out our interview with her below. You can find her full featured article here. 

Do you plan to go on tour after ‘Talk in Tongues’ is released?

“I probably will, but I don’t have an immediate plan right now. With this album, I’m trying to do a lot of shows in New York, because that’s where my base is. I’ll probably also go to Connecticut and  Austin. As far as a national tour, I don’t have any plans at this time. I’m also trying to get together a music video for the single, so that will happen in New York as well.”

What was it like to hear your song ‘Girls’ on HBO?

“I’m at the stage in my life where I’ve graduated college, but I’m still  figuring things out. Just like the characters on ‘Girls’ are. The show is beautifully written. I loved the show even before I knew my song was going to be on it. Then I got this email from a really wonderful music supervisor who I’ve been wanting to work with for a while. At first I thought it was a joke. I’ve done a lot of music placements, but never for something that was so much related to my own life and that I was so passionate about.  I had to keep my mouth shut the whole season. If you watch the show, my song plays in the finale when Shoshanna loses her virginity, so that is a big spoiler. Everyone kept asking me when my song was going to play and what scene was it in. I couldnt tell them the scene because it would ruin the whole plot line for Shoshana. It was a very surreal experience.”

How did you get a spot on the Barenaked Ladies Tour?

“The producer for my first album was Adam Blackstone and he is the musical director for a lot of different bands including Maroon 5. So I had met the Barenaked Ladies manager because he’s a friend of Maroon 5’s, and he heard my music and liked it. He asked me to open for one of his future artists, and then the Barenaked Ladies tour came up, so he put me on that.”

Can you tell us a little bit about the experience?

“I am a huge Barenaked Ladies fan. I went to their shows growing up and I think they are very talented songwriters. They are witty and quirky and interesting, I don’t think there’s anyone really like them. I was just, at first, excited to be on the same stage that they were. I always go into things with not a lot of expectations. You  don’t want to meet someone who you really really love and then have them be a let down. So I didn’t want to have any expectations. I remember we had a show in San Diego and we were having a sound-check during the day, and Ed (who is now the lead singer) was just sitting there during my sound-check eating potato chips and watching me. He didn’t have to be there, he had so many other things to do, but he was watching me! Just this girl starting out. I just couldn’t believe it. They watched my entire set for the show that evening and Ed complimented me on the song “Mary’s Son” and pointed out some lyric he liked. It was just a really cool thing because they exceeded my expectations.  They were so nice and cool and Canadian!”

Besides the Barenaked Ladies, if you could go on tour with anyone, who would it be?

“One of my favorite bands ever is Weezer, I just love them. I think my music is different than Weezer’s in a lot of ways, but with this new album I was really influenced by 90s rock. Rivers Cuomo, who is the lead singer of Weezer is just an amazing songwriter. It would be amazing to open for them on tour. In terms of other people, I’m a huge fan of Sara Bareilles, and there are a lot of other people I would love to go on tour with. If you want to dig up graves, I could name a whole list of artists who have passed who I would have love to have met.”

What kind of music did you listen to growing up and has it affected your sound?

“I grew up listening to a lot of blues and rock and roll. My parents were hippies and listened to the Rolling Stones and The Beatles. They were also huge Motown and jazz fans. Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight and the Pips were my Mom’s all time favorite singers so I grew up listening to them. It wasn’t a mistake that my first voice teacher was a blues gospel singer. That was perfect because I had been on a steady diet of blues and rock and roll growing up. I decided to study with that teacher because I knew I would be able to explore that more. That opened up the doors to singing more jazz. Throughout high school and college I was singing every jazz standard in the book. For the longest time I thought that’s what I wanted to do. Then at Columbia I was in the jazz ensemble at school and I would play jazz shows. I would sing in the jazz ensemble during the day, but then at night I would go and do a show and do maybe eight  jazz songs and then do an original song that had a little bit of jazz in it, but was really more of a pop song. Eventually, I played all originals that didn’t sound like jazz, and I realized that that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to form my own sound. I wanted to tell my own story rather than sing someone else’s words.”

Do you have a favorite song off “I’m Not Sorry”?

“It seems like that album came out so long ago. That album has a lot of bluesier influences on it. Even the title track ‘I’m Not Sorry’ is a very sassy track with horns and everything. I like different songs for different reasons. It’s hard for me to be objective about it because I’m so personally attached to everything I write. There’s always a story from where a song came from that influences why I wrote and why I like it. I like ‘Spend the Night’ the one that was on ‘Girls’ the most because that was one of those songs that came out very easily for me. It was one of those three in the morning songs that I just had this melody in my head. I just really remember enjoying writing it at the time. It came from a very good place. There’s a song called ‘This Little Love’ which would be another favorite. It’s a song about my dog actually, the lyrics go both ways. In my new album, I’m more mature and confident in myself. The writer of the first album is a little shyer than the second album. In the second album I’m a lot more confident and have more attitude. The general tone of it is a lot lighter.”

Besides releasing your sophomore album, what other summer plans do you have?

“The next step is finding a place to live in New York that’s not a million dollars. That’s one plan. I want to keep playing a lot of shows in New York and the surrounding areas. I’ll be releasing the music video in July, and my birthday is in July too, so I’ll be doing something around my birthday. That’s basically my plans for the summer, to keep promoting the album and trying to get my music out there in the best way that I can.”


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