Aimee Mann: It's hard to figure out what the hell is going on in the music business
Gimme Noise: A musician and friend of mine, Paul Engels, reintroduced me to your music. He told me he thought "Save Me" was one of the saddest, yet hopeful songs ever written.
Aimee Mann: That's a wonderful way to describe that song.
Gimme Noise: How do you gauge what is a good line when you're writing?
Aimee Mann: Well, there's two factors that has to say the things that I want it to say, but it also has to say it in a way that has some kind of interest factor or elegance or pithiness -- I don't know. I really value being able to choose the right words, or I value that in other writers. When I come across a line where the words are just perfectly chosen and interesting, it makes me happy, so I try to do that for myself as a listener.
Gimme Noise: Do you come up with the lyrics or melody first when writing?
Aimee Mann: Almost always the music, because the lyrics come out of the feeling of the music. When I come up with the melody, I hear it and think, "It's about something, or it's got an emotional tone. What is the emotional tone?" After that, I can think about the story and picture the character that fits the emotional tone, and I develop it from there.
Gimme Noise: Someone who I think is a brilliant lyricist is Ben Gibbard, and I know you worked with him a little bit last year. How did that come about?
Aimee Mann: I did! We're pals; we have friends in common. He was working in Los Angeles and in the same neighborhood, and he asked me to do this duet with him. I really, really loved that song.
Gimme Noise: I read an interview when he was doing press for his solo album wherein he talked about you, and he spoke about how funny you are. Are people surprised to hear that about you?
Aimee Mann: [laughs] My music is fairly gloomy in general. Ben is really funny. I think both of us are friends with various comedians, and I think hanging around with really funny people will eventually rub off on you a little bit. If anybody thinks that I'm funny, it's because I'm friends with Patton Oswalt -- somehow he's rubbed off on me.
Gimme Noise: Perhaps that's why you were invited to perform at Wits in December. Most of that is going to be dialogue rather than music. Are you comfortable doing that kind of thing?
Aimee Mann: Yeah, it's going to be just six songs. I am comfortable with that. I am friends with Tim Heidecker, and yeah, I'm confident he'll help me be funny, too.
Gimme Noise: It's interesting how different energies play off each other like that.
Aimee Mann: I think it's interesting, too. I think that show is very cool; I like that it has a bunch of different kinds of things.
Gimme Noise: Will the Dakota shows be solo, or is it the project you and Ted are working on?
Aimee Mann: No, I'm doing an acoustic thing; it's still my own show, and Ted opens with his solo stuff. He plays electric guitar, but I come out and play a couple of songs with him during his set, and he will play a few songs with me on my set. We may even play a few songs from our project those nights.
Aimee Mann will perform at:
Dakota Jazz Club on Sunday, October 20 and 21, 2013 with Ted Leo
AA, $40-$60, 7 pm
Purchase tickets here.
Wits on Thursday, December 5, 2013 with Ted Leo and Tim Heidecker
AA, $43.71-$52.97, 8 pm
Purchase tickets here.