When the new season of “The Voice” begins on NBC later this month, a lot of longtime viewers are going to be flashing back to the show’s 2011 season, when they first met singer Rebecca Loebe. Loebe’s fans have been rewarded with numerous album releases in the ensuing eight years, including the just-released Give up Your Ghosts.
We had a chance to chat by email with Loebe, who talked to us about what she learned from “The Voice” and about the making of Give up Your Ghosts. Her commentary below is given exclusively to AXS.com.
AXS: What would you say is the most valuable takeaway from your experience on “The Voice”?
Rebecca Loebe: There were a lot of tangible, quantifiable cool things that happened as a result of being on the show. For example the morning after my first performance, I woke up to 1,000 new emails. Mind-blowing. My social media numbers all went up, newsletter subscriptions went up, I sold a bunch of my own music on iTunes, etc. Even though that was all cool, the absolute best part of being on that show was how terrifying it was.
My first 90-second performance terrified me so much that my whole body shook the entire time (you might have thought that wobbly sound in my voice was vibrato, but nope; that was the sound of sheer terror.) Later I realized that what scared me so much was that I was there specifically to be judged. The experience illustrated to me, with crystalline clarity, the difference between being judged and making a living as a touring singer/songwriter.
On TV I was a character in a competition show. On tour I get to have organic, creative exchanges every night with an audience who believes, like I do, that there is value in unplugging from the wider world and spending a couple of hours together on the same wavelength, sharing music. Every concert I’ve played since being on “The Voice” has felt like a precious gift, which is pretty much the best thing the show could have given me.
AXS: The songs on Give up Your Ghosts really showcase your vocal talent, and some songs, like “Got Away,” seem like they would be very challenging to get right. Is there a particular cut on the album that just gave you fits in the studio?
RL: I actually had a real vocal scare before recording this album. I spent the spring touring heavily with my side project Nobody’s Girl and started to feel really tired, vocally, towards the end of the tour. There were a couple of notes that were no longer coming out.
When I got home to Austin I went to a voice doctor and it turned out he had seen me perform earlier in the year. When he heard I was about to record a new album, he set me up with a voice therapist and insisted on paying for a month of treatments! The voice therapist gave me a thorough list of do’s and don’ts; no talking in the car, no talking on the phone, steam treatments several times a day, and a lot of exercises and warm-ups. By the time I got to the studio to record vocals for this record, my voice had never been in better shape (if I do say so myself!) As with most things, that little vocal scare was a blessing in disguise because it got me to the right where I needed to be.
AXS: Give up Your Ghosts is your fifth album and you’re now a veteran recording artist. Listening to reflective album cut “Growing Up” makes us wonder; does it all seem like it has just been a blink of the eye?
RL: It’s funny; in some ways, it feels like the blink of an eye. But in other ways, it feels like I’ve lived a century in the past 14 years on the road. Every week on tour is packed with so many experiences. I cover a lot of miles, meet a lot of people and see a lot of new places in a very condensed period of time. Sometimes I feel as exuberant and excited about life as I did when I was a teenager, but other times I feel like I’m about 100 years old.
AXS: Along with singer, songwriter, and reality TV show Survivor, your Facebook intro amusingly says you’re a “half-assed jogger.” You appear very fit though; what is your fitness regimen like?
RL: Oh yes, I’m very half-assed about it. I like to jog when I’m on tour because it’s a great way to see the places I’m visiting. On the road, it often feels like all I see are gas station bathrooms, green rooms, stages, and hotel rooms. It sounds cliché maybe, but sometimes it can be hard to connect with the actual character of a town unless I actually get out into it, which is why I like jogging in the mornings. It's really nice to breathe fresh air, take in the scenery and settle into the vibe of the neighborhood. Getting my heart rate up and feeling like I’m doing something positive for my body to combat the many hours I spend sitting still in the car is just a bonus, I guess.
AXS: Give up Your Ghosts will be available on vinyl and you’ve stated in the past that you like music in physical format. Do you have a record collection, and if so what are some of your most cherished pieces, either vintage or recent?
RL: Yes, yes, yes! I’m so excited to say that Give up Your Ghosts is my first album to be pressed on vinyl. I do listen to vinyl at home. I grew up on my parents’ record collection and bought myself a turntable when I was in college. I studied audio engineering, and as I was learning about the history of recording it just seemed sad to me to listen to those classic albums squished down into 1’s and 0’s. My favorite vinyl records are the ones I listened to as a kid, girl groups from the ’50s and ’60s like the Shangri-Las, the Shirelles, and the Marvelettes. Paul Simon’s Graceland, Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Carole King’s Tapestry. And, of course, The White Album by the Beatles. “Blackbird” just sounds better on vinyl.
Follow Rebecca Loebe and find tour dates here.