Q&A: Indie Darling Phoebe Bridgers Unravels Her Relationships in Debut Album, ‘Stranger in the Alps’

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Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels

With the Sept. 2017 release of Stranger in the Alps, Phoebe Bridgers gave us sweet glimpses into her convoluted relationships. She gently unravels the knots for us and transforms them into delicately-told orchestrations. From getting high and sending dirty pictures, to feeling sorry for herself through a friend’s death, Bridgers has the distinct ability to turn some of life’s most uncomfortable moments into relatable, lyrical folktales. Phoebe Bridgers’ music has the uncanny ability to offer comfort during the times of sadness, though it, too, sounds a bit somber. Bridgers wants us to feel that relation, however she also insists:,

“I’d hate for someone to think I’m sipping an espresso somewhere judging people or feeling sorry for myself. OK, I definitely do that once in a while, but I don’t consider myself an intense person.”

Growing up in Pasadena, just shy of north LA, Bridgers attended the prestigious Los Angeles County High School for the Arts to study music. Being immersed in musical friendships, she developed her listening style, that would later evolve into her artistic sound. With her parents as guides, Bridgers has always been in tune with artists of the past - Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen - but meeting new friends introduced her to Elliot Smith, whose whispery, multi-layered indie sound gave her her spark. 

Transitioning from listener to artist was easy for Bridgers and after high school, she found herself gigging around LA, learning and re-learning from her rookie mistakes. As she balances between teenage narratives and grave emotion, Bridgers’ music caught the attention of Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, another artist Bridgers found her style looking up towards, who later appeared on her debut album. Now, with a worldwide tour under her belt, Bridgers brings her intimate tales forth to new, live audiences. You can find your tickets for remaining dates here.

Listening to Stranger in the Alps as if we were reading Phoebe Bridgers’ diary, questions began to fester. Luckily, we were able to bring these questions to fruition, asking Phoebe Bridgers herself about the inner workings of her writing. Check out what she had to say, below

OTW: Your songs are especially diary-esque, is there a particular time and/or place you enjoy writing music?

Phoebe Bridgers: I like to write when I walk, and I walk everywhere.  My favorite place is the reservoir by my apartment, because I know it so well I’m not really thinking about my surroundings.  Just zoning out.

OTW: You’ve mentioned your interest in creative writing, and clearly your music speaks to that, but have you ever thought about writing a book?

Phoebe Bridgers: I’d like to be the kind of person whose considered it, but no.  I’m more of a consumer in that department.

OTW: Are you working on anything else right now?

Phoebe Bridgers: I’m trying to write as much as possible.  I want to release new music as soon as I can, and I really miss recording.

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OTW: You’ve already collabed with some amazing people (singer-songwriters, producers) but is there anyone else that would be a dream for you to collaborate with?

Phoebe Bridgers: Nick Cave firstly.  Even though he probably exists in an alternate vampire universe, I would die to work with him.

OTW: Looking back at your first live performance to now, what have you learned that you hope to channel into your upcoming tour?

Phoebe Bridgers: I had a weird combination of overconfidence and crippling self-doubt then. I’d like to think I’m more down to earth and a lot better and more relaxed when I perform now. From my heroes and friends who play music, I’ve learned that it’s important to let songs grow and change as you play them, even if they end up different than the recording.  It’s more fun that way, not as rigid. I essentially have a mental arrangement for one of my songs on tour now because of it.

OTW: Your songwriting is very revealing, do you ever get nervous or afraid of that?

Phoebe Bridgers: Mostly when I’m showing my songs to my close friends - it’s one thing for a stranger to hear your lyrics, but something entirely different when people in your day-to-day life hear them.  I have a fear of being over dramatic or hurting people’s feelings.

OTW: Is there a song of yours that you find particularly difficult to sing live? Or is there a song that you will always look forward to performing?

Phoebe Bridgers: Right now, the difficult one is probably “Georgia” just because it’s older and I’m not in that headspace anymore.  I love playing “Motion Sickness” because people almost dance to it.

OTW: I’ve read you enjoy seeing your audience squirm in the audience - it shows you they’re paying attention. Do you notice that certain songs have this affect more than others?

Phoebe Bridgers: “Funeral" usually does that to people.  It’s by far the most personal song in the set.  And “You Missed My Heart,” the Mark Kozelek cover.  Most of the squirming happens during my uncomfortable stage banter though.

OTW: How did your song “Demi Moore” get its name?

Phoebe Bridgers: When I say “stoned anymore” it sounds like I’m saying “stone Demi Moore.”

OTW: Who are your Ones To Watch artists?

Phoebe Bridgers: Lucy Dacus, Snail Mail, and my favorite songwriter who only exists on YouTube to the public, Christian Lee Hutson.

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