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At the Gate

With the official release of her debut LP, Charlatans At The Garden Gate, arriving February 1st, Tristen Gaspadarek is poised for a potential breakout year. Her mix of pop, rock, and Americana sensibilities has already created a buzz Nashville, where she moved after leaving her hometown in the Chicago area, and itís likely to catch on as she takes her show on the road for most of the year. We caught up with after her gig in Fort Worth, Texas, in a phone interview. Catch her San Francisco debut at Rickshaw Stop on February 3rd.

SF Station (SFS): Howís the tour going so far?

Tristen Gaspadarek (TG): Oh, good. Weíre only on day five, so we are pretty fresh still.

SFS: Have you toured this extensively thus far in your career?

TG: For the last two years, Iíve been out for five to ten days a month, but for the next four months, it will be the most touring consistently. Iíve never toured out to L.A. and Iíve never been to San Francisco in my life.

SFS: What led you to Nashville instead of another music town like L.A. or New York?

TG: It was definitely a more affordable move, and itís close to home so itís really easy to live there. I think itís more of a music town than New York or L.A. because thatís all there is in Nashville.

I didnít really move down there with any ambition to be a studio artist. I moved there figuring I could write songs really easily and maybe thereís a job for me somewhere writing songs. In the midst of all that, I started recording my own music. One thing leads to another and I ended up making this record. The path sort presented itself.

SFS: Was it a cultural change for you coming from the Chicago area?

TG: Definitely. Nashville is the South, so youíve got all the great things about the South. People are really friendly and open to having conversations with strangers. Itís a really charming place and itís kind of a small town, but if you are into music, there is a lot going on. There are a lot of musicians, and everyone migrates there, so you kind of get the cream of the crop when it comes to players. Thatís really the upside.

As for as cultural change, there was kind of a social etiquette that I was unaware of. I canít tell if thatís because there is a lot money in Nashville, especially among a lot of the people who play music, or if itís just a cultural thing. Itís interesting because itís pretty old fashion in a lot of ways with the dynamic between men and women. There is still a very rampant case of the Southern belle, which is pretty bizarre ó the chatty female that doesnít want to work but cleans up real pretty. Thereís a lot of that going on around there.

Itís very rich in tradition, and people are kind of living in the shadow of what happened there in the 60s and 70s. You meet a lot really knowledgeable people who really know a lot of music, so itís pretty awesome.

SFS: Is it a challenge to be in that environment, when sometimes people have those ďSouthern belleĒ expectations?

TG: I donít think itís a challenge; I think it is actually an advantage. Iím strolling into Nashville as a pretty normal Northern girl ó pretty opinionated, educated, and outspoken. I was there for a year and a half and they put me on the cover of one of the local newspapers, saying itís a new breed of female songwriting. Itís an advantage for me to be the way that I am. Iím not sure I would be as unique in New York or Chicago in the way that I am there.

SFS: Did you get involved with writing songs for other people and that whole industry there?

TG: I sort of tried getting into it, but I couldnít handle watering down my lyrics, or compromising my ideas, or giving someone songwriting credits for a song that I wrote. It just seemed like a waste of time for me.

SFS: Where do you get inspiration from when you are writing songs for yourself? Are most of your lyrics autobiographical?

TG: I definitely draw from personal experience, but at the same time I draw from other peoplesí experiences. Itís a mix of everything, but itís definitely what I think about things. Iím not just making shit up, but at the same time, not everything that I sing about happened to me.

SFS: Youíre songs are a little bit country, a little bit rock íní roll. Where do you think you fit in?

TG: I donít really think I fit anywhere. The whole idea of fitting in is up to the person writing about it. Some people call it country, and some people donít hear that at all. I call it pop music. It seems like that is the kind of music Iím interested in, and thatís what I usually feel like Iím writing. But thereís a stigma attached to calling something pop, so people donít want to do that either.

SFS: What are you plans for the rest of the year? And what are you looking forward to?

TG: Iím going to be on the road for the rest of the year, and Iím looking forward to making a new record, as well. I donít really foresee anything really changing, just getting busier, hopefully.

Tristen performs at Rickshaw Stop on February 2nd. The show starts at 8pm and tickets are $10.