Local Talent

A Fiendish Conversation with Damien Jurado

In our new Q&A series, we chat with local artists and performers about their craft. Up next: Seattle’s "folk-boom godfather."

By Seth Sommerfeld February 15, 2012

Damien Jurado moves into psychedelic territory with new album Maraqopa.

In many ways, Seattle’s indie folk boom started with Damien Jurado. Since the mid-’90s, he’s been turning out record after record of delicate, understated folk ballads. But he’s done with that sonic realm now. His latest album, Maraqopa, acts both as a farewell to his singer-songwriter past and a step toward psychedelic fare and a fuller rock sound.

We talked to Jurado as he prepares for the Maraqopa record release show on Friday at the Neptune Theatre.

Maraqopa’s opening track (“Nothing is the News”) has such a massive sound—with psychedelic guitar reminiscent of Pink Floyd—compared to your typical work. Where did it come from?
I think the new record is progression. The first song definitely makes that known. It’s sort of a signal for a new direction I’ll be taking from here on out. I think side B is my goodbye to the whole singer-songwriter genre. I’m done with it now… [I’m] never looking back.

For years I was being lumped in with so many other singer-songwriter types. I don’t even listen to that kind of music, so why in the hell am I making records like that? It’s not that those records weren’t heartfelt, it just wasn’t really who I was. There’s no telling what kind of record I’ll make next; I think it will just surprise people. I think it’s gonna surprise me.

What’s the significance behind the album title?
Maraqopa is the name of a fictional town. I had a dream where I was seeing someone else who came upon a town in the middle of nowhere; the terrain looked like anywhere between northern Arizona and Wyoming. It’s a fictitious setting.

Do you have any pre-show routines?
The only routine I really have is to find my wife, give her a kiss, take two deep breaths and I walk on stage. Anything else would just be overthinking.

Are there any up-and-coming Seattle musicians you’re taking note of?
Bryan John Appleby, who is opening up the show for me, is a great songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Pickwick is a great band I think you’re gonna hear a lot from this year. Obviously the Head and the Heart. Kaylee Cole is another really talented songwriter. Kevin Long, he writes these lyrics that I feel are just like hurled daggers being shoved into your chest.

That’s kind of what I mean when I say I’m over the whole singer-songwriter thing. In some ways I feel like I’m passing the torch. If anything, I want to set an example. It’s not money or fame, but having a chance to inspire somebody—that’s priceless.

Damien Jurado’s Album Release Show
Special guests Gold Leaves and Bryan John Appleby
Feb 17 @ 9pm, Neptune Theatre, $15

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