My Brightest Diamond is a Brooklyn band headed up by Shara Worden—"granddaughter of an Epiphone-playing traveling evangelist, fathered by a National Accordion Champion, and mothered by a classical organist." Her music and sound are as eclectic as her personal biography, and she delves into nearly every genre that's been given a name, creating a new one that hasn't. Tomorrow night her and the band will end a long tour in her hometown, New York, with a show at (Le) Poisson Rouge.
Your music seems to combine everything from rock to opera to classical, and it all has a very theatrical feel at the live show—how did your diverse sound take shape? My parents have really wide listening palettes and the fact that we moved so many times in my life affected my listening a lot too. Environment has a lot to do with one's aesthetics. Being in New York, where there is such a huge pool of amazing classical artists like Osso, Gabriel Kahane, Clare and The Reasons and Clogs, has really created an organic environment for this kind of music to be made. Years ago, I was seeing people like Antony, Rebecca Moore and Nina Nastasia at the Knitting Factory and they were all using strings or alternative instrumentation with their songs and it inspired me a lot to pursue my own arranging.
Are you classically trained? How did you begin branching out? I have a degree in classical vocal performance and I studied arranging with Padma Newsome (Clogs/The National). I was seriously writing songs in college. I always have had my feet in a bunch of puddles at once.
What did you listen to growing up? A lot of pop music on the radio. My dad brought home records for me from the library and the first batch I remember was Thriller, a Joan Jett album and Amy Grant. We moved to Michigan and I started listening to a lot of hip hop and R&B.
What else do you think you want to sonically get dabble with that you haven't already? My world has been very consumed with harmony recently and I will be giving much more attention to rhythm in the future.
How did you come up with Tainted Love for your cover on the new Guilty By Association compilation? Last year when we were touring with The Decemberists, we were playing our song "Workhorse" which has these two bass note hits in the bridge and I thought, “Hey, this sounds like those two hits in "Tainted Love," so we would segue from one song to the other.
What bands are you currently listening to? Right now I am listening to Einsturzende Neubauten, a lot of Prince, some Nonesuch recordings of African tribal music, M.I.A. and DM Stith.
...And influenced by? "A Thousand Shark's Teeth" was very influenced by Tom Waits' album Alice and from the visual world, a lot of Anselm Kiefer, Robert Parke-Harrison and my puppet friends in Brooklyn!
Dead or alive, who would be in your ultimate all-star supergroup? Stevie Wonder with Nina Simone, Jonny Greenwood, Marc Ribot, Chris Bruce on bass and Earl Harvin on drums.
Please share your strangest "only in New York" story. Since I've been on tour for over three months, the only time I was in New York recently was for Halloween! I was walking in Union Square and ended up caught in the zombie parade by accident. I barely escaped alive after a zombie stole a photo of me and my soul. His blood was on my jacket.
Which New Yorker do you most admire? I really admire Laurie Anderson. She's what I want to be when I grow up.
Given the opportunity, how would you change New York? The beauty and power of New York is its vast energy and forward motion, but sometimes I feel sad that New York would move on without me, my footprints getting covered by a thousand others. I want it to love me as much as I love it, but I am a fly on the back of an elephant. It's a humbling place to live.
Under what circumstance have you thought about leaving New York? Having space!
Do you have a favorite New York celebrity sighting or encounter? I was standing in the balcony at the Bowery Ballroom at a Dandy Warhols show and David Bowie walked in front of me and I swooned.
Best cheap eat in the city. Natori on 8th street in the East Village.
Best venue to see music. The Beacon Theater