Born in Italy to a Sicilian-American father and a Guatemalan mother, Cristina Vane grew up between England, France and Italy and was just 18 years old when she came to the United States for college. After four years in Los Angeles, she’d built a pretty solid Instagram following and with the help of her fans, booked herself a cross-country tour, grabbed her resonator guitar and set out to play her original songs across the landscape where the music she loves was born. Vane landed in Nashville and recorded her full-length debut album with the help of Grammy-award winning drummer and producer, Cactus Moser (Wynona Judd). Nowhere Sounds Lovely is out next Friday and Cristina Vane plays WMOT’s Finally Friday From Home at noon on release day, April 2nd
AnaLee: Congratulations on Nowhere Sounds Lovely, twelve rich tracks inspired by blues music and a summer spent traveling the states playing your unique style of this sound. When did you first discover early American blues and slide guitar and did that influence your decision to come to the states?
Cristina: Thank you so much! I am very excited to share it with everyone. I first discovered pre-war blues through Rory Block’s tribute album to Skip James, and the work of Blind Willie Johnson. I actually came to the U.S. to go to college in New Jersey, and I didn’t make these discoveries ‘til four years later when I had moved to Los Angeles to pursue music. Once I heard Blind Willie Johnson and Skip James, my whole soundscape changed, and I continued to seek out delta blues or country blues that captured me in the same way. It has turned into a huge part of my life!
AnaLee: Tell us a little about your experience traveling the country, playing your original music and how that journey informed this record.
Cristina: The United States has a truly impressive wilderness. The sheer space it takes up, and the huge range of climates and microclimates is a hard thing to grasp until you are there yourself. I grew up moving around Europe, and have traveled a fair bit with my mother being Guatemalan, but this was a very different experience. Taking that wheel was a sort of metaphor for taking the handle on my own life, my own creative stagnation. The sense of feeling truly alone, surrounded by this vast landscape, continues to excite me. I learned so much about myself on that trip, as well as about music. For example, I first explored the south on that trip and was able to tap into the old time, bluegrass, and country scenes however briefly. It was enough to make me realize I needed to move to Nashville though! I wanted to be closer to the source, and I knew I wanted to make a record and assemble all of these songs that I had written on this journey. The songs were explorations of new sensations, and more importantly, new places, as I had previously never really written about places so explicitly. Each song is a snapshot for me, and I can remember which park or campsite or porch I was on when it came to me.
AnaLee: How did you end up recording with Cactus Moser? I’ve seen him play drums with Wynona before and he really has a cool blend of rock and country that gives a bit of an edge to your sound on this record. It’s a great combination that adds to what makes this record stand out. Yes, you can clearly hear the early blues and mountain music influences, but this is different, a slightly modern twist on traditional sounds and instruments.
Cristina: I had started to put the feelers out for a producer as soon as I moved to Nashville, and was talking with a few people at the time. Cactus really stood out to me for the exact things you mentioned, actually. I have learned that the way I could honor my love for this music and my authentic self was to use it as an influence, but to make music that was reflective of my mind and my lived experience (so, more modern). Cactus said something along the very same lines when we were discussing his last project, the 2016 Wynona & The Big Noise Record, and when I listened, I was thrilled. I knew I had found someone who could help me fuse my old time influences with my rock background. He is also a great drummer so it was sort of a two in one haha!
AnaLee: You play clawhammer style banjo on “Prayer For The Blind” and your voice really shines on this track too, it sounds like you were born in Appalachia! Can you tell us the story that inspired you to write, “Prayer For The Blind” and a little about the song? “Badlands” is the other single that’s been released ahead of the full album coming on April 2nd. I’m really looking forward to playing more tracks from Nowhere Sounds Lovely on WMOT. Thanks, Cristina!
Cristina: Thank you! Well, each year that goes by the details get a little blurrier so I apologize if this isn’t fully accurate. On that trip, I had misjudged my destination (Sioux City), and didn’t feel safe stopping there for the night, so I kept driving until I found a KOA campsite that by some miracle, on memorial day, took pity on me and let me have a campsite that was closed for being a little too muddy. A couple at the campsite next to me noticed I was alone and struggling with some wet wood, so they invited me over, and turned out to be so kind! Kari told me a story about her mother, who in her dementia believed that her husband was going out dancing and cheating on her with a woman with two wooden legs. She related this to me while laughing, and it not only made me laugh too, but think deeply about how we have to find the funny in something as heavy as dementia, and what it is like to watch your mother suffer from something like that. The song sort of explores a few of those thoughts, as well as how it relates to mothers and daughters in general.
Thank you again for having me! I am so glad you like the tracks, and WMOT is the first radio station I found when I moved to town and continues to be a favorite. Thank you so much!
Cristina Vane, “Badlands”