Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
TrunkSpace: You released your debut album, “Too Soon To Cry,” on July 1. What emotions do you juggle with as you prepare to release songs into the world?
Defoe: I’ve put so much love and care into each millisecond of every song I honestly feel relieved to finally put something out that is mine and while caring for my two year old. I’m super proud of it like an audio art sculpture. I say bring on the positive and negative criticism, it will not change how I feel about this whole wonderful process.
TrunkSpace: As an artist, are you someone who has a hard time letting go of the art that you create? Is it difficult to put so much of yourself into something and then once released, have so much how it finds and connects with an audience be out of your hands?
Defoe: It used to be. I’ve been making songs in private for the past 15 years. I guess I never had the confidence, and at the time I felt exposed and vulnerable. Now that I’m older and a mother, my views on creating and sharing with the world has drastically changed. My husband pushed me for years to go back to working on my own music and I strongly resisted with a lot of shame. Thanks to him pushing me so hard by building back my confidence and the friends and family in my life encouraging me, I dedicated a year to creating and finishing my first album.
TrunkSpace: For first-time listeners, what would they learn about you as a person and as an artist in sitting down to listen to “Too Soon To Cry” in its entirety?
Defoe: That I’m a dreamer. I love creating landscapes and visual moods in all my songs. I treat every song like a different movie set and let the actors (the notes) have the freedom to take over the listeners’ hearts. I’m not out to make cool music or fit into a genre – I’m into making every moment to feel right and vibey. So they will definitely know that by how different every track is on the record.
TrunkSpace: Music has been a part of your life since you were very young. What would 9-year-old Defoe – the girl who stepped into the studio for the first time – think about “Too Soon To Cry” and your journey as an artist to date?
Defoe: I think 9-year-old me would think I was a magical princess from a secret place far away. I don’t think she will focus on the struggle and the pain during my journey, but she will see amazing opportunities I’ve had and be super excited to grow up into a woman who makes such beautiful music.
TrunkSpace: Early in your journey you were being groomed for a career in country music. Was it inevitable that you stray from that genre path? When did you realize that it wasn’t the type of music you were meant to be writing and performing?
Defoe: When I was younger I was taken under the wing of a talented group of people that wanted to create a new young pop/country crossover artist. Though I love all kinds of music, I was not particularly favoring country music at that time, but I was able to sing it. I worked with legendary musicians and amazing people in the industry. At that time I didn’t write any of the songs or give any input creatively – I just didn’t have the confidence or self awareness yet. At the end of the day I felt like I had to fake a whole other identity to become an artist I wasn’t, so I made the painful decision to walk away before releasing. It taught me that I was not into the side of the manufactured music business and taught me the process in which records were made, and I also made life long valuable friendships. So, I think that’s why I insist on working on every track myself. It may be a bit extra work on my part, but at the end of the day I’m happy with all my end products.
TrunkSpace: You grew up with music all around you. Do you think that your passion for music comes from the creative nurturing of your mother and father? Would you be writing, recording and performing today if it weren’t for your upbringing?
Defoe: My parents gave me the most nurturing upbringing for a creative kid by giving me freedom. Freedom to choose my own weird outfits even if they were mismatched. Freedom to act like a weirdo around the house. I was a late talker – didn’t start speaking 3 1/2 to 4 years old. They watched what I gravitated to and saw I liked to sing so they bought me a microphone and a mini piano at 3 years old. My mom surrounded me with movies with amazing movie scores and my father played golden oldies radio. What a perfect storm for what was to come.
TrunkSpace: You have worked behind the scenes with other artists over the years. How has working with other creatives inspired your own creative path?
Defoe: I love giving the artist confidence in themselves by showing them cool things their voice CAN do as opposed to focusing on what their voice cannot. I love working on different genres and working in constraints of each genre. I learn so many skills and new things from each process. I usually can’t wait to try it on my own stuff. I also learn where my weaknesses are. By identifying some of my weak points (usually drums), I’ve learned to let go of my pride in that area and bring other talented people to help me. Why let a song suffer because I insist on doing everything myself?
TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Defoe: Knowing when to stop. I tend to be an audio maximalist. (Laughter) Some times knowing when a song is finished can be tough. I want to keep nourishing it.
TrunkSpace: When all is said and done and you hang up your instruments, what do you hope to be remembered for? What do you want your legacy to be?
Defoe: That no matter your age and how low you feel on your luck, you always chance to start over and do what makes you happy. A busy mother can still achieve her dreams and create mind-blowing art. People with anxiety and depression can find a way out and use their experiences to create and inspire others through their story. Feeling so blessed with the gift to create – I intend creating art for as long as I’m alive.
TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Defoe: Easy. No. Definitely not. Life is about the mysteries that are around each corner and facing each challenge. I would lose the awe of life and see my world as bleak. Losing the will to fight for possible achievements sounds like a recipe for disaster. I’ll bore in the journey instead of embracing it. The fight is so important for us as human beings. I know that’s dramatic, but that’s how I feel.
“To Soon To Cry” is available now.