Molly Parden talks about her EP, videos, and life in Nashville at the first show of her UK tour



Nashville-based Molly Parden has provided captivating harmony vocals on over 50 records in the last few years and has traveled the world with music — a few weeks ago, even, opening for Joshua Radin — but she’s now in the midst of her first-ever headlining jaunt of the UK. We caught up with her for a chat in the bar at The Joiners venue in Southampton on the first night of her tour.

Welcome to the UK, Molly! how was the trip over?
I haven’t been to England in about 3 years. I thought I’d have to check my guitar in but it went on as carry-on, but then it wouldn’t fit in the overhead, so it got its own seat behind me. I found that really funny. There were only like 30 people on the plane.

We loved your latest EP, Rosemary. You released it in the middle of the pandemic — did that cause you to consider delaying it until you could tour?
I did essentially delay it, because it was originally an LP that I split into two EPs, I thought it would be a waste to release an LP in the middle of the pandemic. The other half was released a few months before Rosemary, it was comprised of four songs already released as singles, just tided them up into an EP.

There are restrictions on shows [due to the pandemic], but it depends on which part of the country you are in. Shows are going ahead. I was just in Texas two weeks ago, played four different shows, they were full shows which is really encouraging.

My favorites off of the EP have to include “Within a Dream” and “Kitchen Table”, and particularly the guitar on the latter. How did those songs come to be?
“Within a Dream” is about distance, separating two lovers. I wrote it about 10 years ago, but never considered it as a song because it’s so short, so it was just a little vignette of a song, a little exercise. But when I stopped caring about how long a song needs to be… Because I would re-visit that little two-verse song and try to add something to it, but it never took, it never took the additional lyrics, the song rejected it. So, when it came to making Rosemary, I decided it was plenty long enough, that was as much as it needed, just those two verses. I’ve been writing more small songs like that, because I’m more confident in short song lengths now.

“Kitchen Table” came to me pretty quickly. I had the chord progression first, but I didn’t know what to pair it with, toyed around with that progression for a few months, then the words and the melody came later.

The cover of the Rosemary EP is so fitting to the music. How did you choose that cover?
It is quite personal to me, but then all my songs are personal. I’m glad I chose that image, basically it was taken by the person that all of those songs are about, so that is why I wanted to use it, and I liked that it wasn’t very sharp or striking, in a way, but it is emotionally striking for me.



James McFetridge Wilson has written a lovely piece about you on your website, and intriguingly describes you “as a Promethean musical force in Nashville’s vibrant underground”. Is Promethean, ‘rebelliously creative and innovative,’ how you see yourself and your music?
That’s what my friend James Wilson said about me, I’m flattered that he chose that word. He’s one of my biggest fans and best friends. It makes sense you’d have to look up a word he used (laughs). You know, at the end of the day, I do hardcore rebel against the Nashville catch-all genre that we call Americana, and I’m trying my damnedest to run away from that.

How is living in Nashville? Is it fueled by collaboration or competition because of too many musicians?
There are definitely too many musicians — honestly, we need to build a wall around Nashville. No more musicians. (laughs) You know, it depends through which lens you look at it, because I could walk out of my front door, go into a coffee shop, see twenty other songwriters, and see them as a threat to me, or I could see them as these beautiful different colours in the spectrum in the rainbow that is Nashville musicians. So I see it as optimistically as possible, as collaborators and not competitors.

Your YouTube channel has a few music videos for songs off your latest EP, and I loved the relaxed style of the “Who are We Kiddin’” video. There are also a few ‘how to play your songs’ videos — I thought that was a surprisingly relaxed experience.
The “Who are We Kiddin’” video — man, that was one of the hottest days on the face of the Earth. I almost passed out several times, but I’m glad it looks like I’m relaxed, probably because I was about to die (laughs). The sky was a real storm-dark blue at one point, and it made for a beautiful backdrop, but it rained so hard ten minutes after we got done shooting.

The how-to-play videos, you watched those? (laughs) Oh my god, those are funny, they were all just one take! Maybe I’ll do more. I have a lot of time off between this tour and when I go home, so why not, all I did was just hit record on my iPhone, made a video, and uploaded it. I’m glad you watched those (laughs).



Photos and words by Tony Palmer.

You can check out our review of Molly’s set in Southampton here.

Keep up with Molly Parden: FacebookInstagram / Website

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