Sharing the journey she went on to find her voice, both literally and figuratively, Buick Audra has her newest single, “Simply Said,” hitting streaming services tomorrow September 9th. And today, she premiered a live performance video of the song, which was filmed at Sound Emporium in Nashville. It is the final single off of her September 23rd album, Conversations With My Other Voice.
Along with her solo work, Nashville rock fans may recognize the Grammy-award winner from the rock duo Friendship Commanders. She is an outspoken activist, using her platform to talk about women’s issues, surviving abuse, and more. We got to learn more about Audra in an interview we did last year surrounding the release of her 2021 single, “Lullaby of Loathing.”
The tender live performance of “Simply Said” was shot by Jerry Roe, and the audio was done by Justin Francis, who also engineered the album, which was recorded at Sound Emporium as well.
“Simply Said” is a track that Audra describes as, “A song that was like a lightbulb in an otherwise dark house; I could see just enough to know that it wasn’t my job to take care of everyone else in the story. And so, I wrote it exactly that way.”
The release show for her album Conversations With My Other Voice will be September 28th at The Basement in Nashville.
We got to chat with Audra to learn more about the new single, the upcoming album, and much more.
So how has the year treated you so far?
It’s treated me pretty well, thanks! Releasing singles from this album has been intense and vulnerable, but I’m glad and grateful to be doing it. This project has been a long time in the making. It’s surreal that it’s almost here.
You’ve got your new single, “Simply Said,” dropping soon. I see where you said, “I was right on the edge of learning some truths about myself and everyone else in my life.” Do you care to break that down any further?
Sure, I’d love to. So, the album is a memoir in songs. It pairs five songs from a life I used to live with five songs written in response to them, from here. “Simply Said” is one of the original songs, one that marked a pivotal shift in my awareness and perspective. I was living a life that was largely centered around other people: my partner at the time, my brother, my family, etc. Even still, I couldn’t see any of us very clearly. I was seeing things as I wanted to, not as they were. A function of my denial and the dishonesty of others.
Two months after I wrote it, every single part of my life shifted. My marriage ended quite abruptly, my brother went to prison, my role in my family changed, and I left my life in Brooklyn to move to Nashville alone. I call that season The Great Undoing. “Simply Said” was the first moment where I was like, wait a minute . . . I might also be a person who deserves respect and care. And maybe that’s my actual job, not running around trying to figure out everyone else.
It was a bellwether moment.
You repeat the line, “And I don’t have to take care of you,” quite a bit throughout. Did you have someone specifically in mind here?
As far as who I had in mind: everyone in my immediate life. I was raised to take care of my brother and be the responsible one in my family. I carried that into my adult life and put myself (and my music) last in several relationships—something that was applauded. People love women who put themselves last. And I learned quite quickly that changing that dynamic would be less applauded. But the reality stands: other people can do whatever they need or want, and it’s still not my job to take care of them. What’s not being said in the song, but is implied, is: I have to take care of myself now. That’s the work in this life.
In the beginning of the video for the song you say, “One more for my brother. I wrote this at my brother’s house.” Can you elaborate more on that?
I tracked the live video performance at Sound Emporium here in Nashville. We had already done a few takes of me singing and playing the song and had some good ones. The engineer had just told me he thought we had the keeper performance. I took a minute to connect to the core truth of the song and to invite my former self who wrote it into the space.
The person I was when I wrote “Simply Said” was a woman camped out in her brother’s guest room five days before Christmas—the last Christmas before he would go to prison for twenty-six months. I remember writing “Simply Said” in that room and hearing him yell, “Yeah, Bu! Play around that six!” My brother is a fellow musician and longtime collaborator of mine, and he liked the vocal phrasing’s interaction with the time signature. It was a sweet moment in an otherwise painful time when he told me he heard me, probably in more ways than one.
So, when I tracked the video performance, I said, “One more. . . one more for my brother,” to remove my own self-consciousness that can sometimes color my performances. At that moment, I was just singing it for him and me, and it ended up being the take.
I was hoping you could talk about your upcoming album, Conversations with My Other Voice. What more can you tell us about this collection of songs and the title itself?
The album is about my relationship with my own voice, literal and figurative. The original five songs were written over a three-year period before and after The Great Undoing; they outline some of my perspectives around my songwriting, collaborations, my first marriage, my family dynamics, and my idea of myself. Voice weaves in and out of the stories as a character, whether it relates to singing, speaking up, or setting boundaries.
It’s interesting to sing them now because I’ve changed so much. And that change is expressed in the response songs, where I get very clear and stand up for myself in ways I did not before. I was so hard on myself in my back pages, so ashamed of my own existence. This time around I get to be like, here’s what actually happened, and I’m on my own side.
I wrote an accompanying memoir in essays to expand on the stories; it’s called Conversations with My Other Voice: Essays and it is out on the same day as the album. My hope is that people will listen and read in tandem.
What messages or feelings do you hope listeners take away from this album?
I hope it leaves people with courage. It has been such a ride to return to my solo music—and not always an easy one. But I’m glad to have done so because I very much believe that we each have something to honor within ourselves, something that doesn’t always see daylight. For me, this project was the thing I was afraid to do and honor. But here it is, and I’m better for having listened to myself. I hope others feel encouraged to do the same.
Is there a song on the album that was the most difficult to write/record for one reason or another?
Two come to mind. The first is a song called “Five,” one of the original songs from the collection. I wrote it the night before a wedding anniversary in my first marriage. In it, I ask all these questions of my then-partner, about whether he’s still in the relationship. I loved the song the minute I finished it, but he hated it and asked me not to record it. And I didn’t, for a long time. But I’m not in that relationship anymore, and it’s my song, so it’s on the album. Still, it was wild to finally do it, to dare to put it forth against someone’s wishes.
The other is one of the newer songs called “The Alcoholics Wish You Well.” It’s about my struggles with myself in relation to my family of origin. I’ve long had strained dynamics with some of my parents (I have three in total), and I don’t always feel like I’m even allowed to struggle or to talk about it. But I did here, and while it was scary to write and record the track, it’s one of my favorites on the album. I think songs that tell the hard truths have a certain power to them.
What has been your favorite/the most rewarding part of making this album?
Honoring the woman I once was. I hated her for a long time, hated her messes, her emotionalism. But this project called to me, and I took the call. It’s been healing to sing her songs, to add new work to them, and to see it through. My old life held so much self-abandonment, so this chapter is about the opposite. Honor all of it. Be proud. You’re living your one life; own who you are.
What does success as a musician and songwriter mean to you?
Hmmmm. I mean, of course, all the exterior things glisten and sparkle, right? I’m a regular person. But there’s also an innate dignity built into standing with and for myself regardless of how others perceive me or the work. I do have a couple of Grammys, and I’m proud of that, but for me it’s more about saying what I mean in the work, creating the records I hear in my head, and using the voice I’ve been given. If I’m not doing that, the statues don’t matter.
Do you have a tour or regional gigs lined up once the album is released? Any other plans for the rest of the year?
Yes! The album release show is here in Nashville at the Basement on September 28th. I’ll have copies of the book, my band and I will play the album in its entirety, and Jaimee Harris will open the show solo. I can’t wait.
I’ll tour a little later in the year and certainly next year; dates will be announced soon! I’ll also do some readings from selections of the book. New for me!
Also, keep an ear to the ground for some news from my other project, Friendship Commanders. We have some plans cooking up. Never a dull moment out here.
Thank you so much for giving me the space and platform to talk about my work; I’m grateful.