Analogue Music | The Bird and the Bee songstress serves up a deeply…

Inara George

By Matt Conner

The music comes slower these days for Inara George.

Family life has taken over. Other interests have crept in. Creative opportunities have come and gone. Each has taken a bit of the time and energy she'd normally invest in her own work—not that she'd have it any other way.

The Bird and the Bee songstress sounds quite content with this slower creative pace. She clearly loves her family, and it's not as if being a mother has relegated her to the musical sidelines. Even after having children, she's released new records as part of The Living Sisters and The Bird and the Bee. And now, nearly nine years after Accidental Experimental, George is back with another solo album.

Dearest Everybody is Inara George's newest release, a tender record filled with empathy and perspective. The songs are more personal than ever before because some of them were never intended to be released. They are musical gifts for those closest to George, songs for friends and family who've felt lost or helpless or confused. 

Fortunately they are now gifts for us all, accompanying us in the meaningful ways we've learned to appreciate from Inara George all the while.

Analogue: Dearest Everybody just released. Are the emotions similar for you at this stage as when you first started?

Inara: There are a lot of similar feelings, but it's different because you know the score. You know you just do your best to get the music out and hope people like it. When I was younger, it was more anxiety-provoking about what was going to happen. I don't have that now. I have so many other aspects to my life that are way more important than this. So it's exciting and it's fun to create something to put out there. I hope that people enjoy it, but then you can kind of put it to rest if you need to. There are nerves, but it's like they're more resolved if that makes any sense. [Laughs]

Inara-George-2-by Alexa Nikol Curran.jpg
Inara-George-2-by Alexa Nikol Curran.jpg

Analogue: How else has your relationship changed?

Inara: I know that I'm not searching out music as much as I did when I was younger. There's just not the time. I think also for females, there's something that happens when other parts of your life become more important. You have to put all of your care and nurture into your family, let's say. Because of the way our culture works, which is changing, but even still women take on the mothering role more often than men do.

For putting this record out, there's a part of me that asks, "Why am I doing this when I have such an important job with my kids?" My husband will tell me, "You do this because it's who you are. You have to make things. You're a creative person." I know that we get so bogged down with the idea that money is validation. If you can make money in a business, then that makes it more valid. I think that I'm not trying to worry about that. It's important for me to show that just because life has changed, I still have something to say. I still have stuff to share. I still like making music and having that part of my life. 

So sometimes it feels awkward, but then I realize that it's stupid. I shouldn't do that to myself. It's important for older people to still express themselves. Youth is so celebrated in our country specifically and it's worth celebrating. It's fantastic. But I also think we continue to grow up. There's music that has just as much meaning or validity as anything a 20-year-old can make, you know?

Analogue: It's quite uncommon to find someone these days who can write from a perspective of a career in music compared to the noise made by those new to it all. 

Inara: For me, if I'm writing something, it's just coming from the place where I'm at. It's fun to write pop songs, but that's not what I am doing at all. I don't feel I can write from that perspective without feeling like I'm not being authentic. So I feel like maybe there is a vacancy in music from this perspective. Then again I dont know. There's just so many amazing musicians and songwriters and they're all hopefully filling this space for you and me, for those with different concerns than someone who might be younger. 

Analogue: You said you needed your husband's encouragement to go ahead and make what you need to make. Does that mean you've thought about not doing this?

Inara: No, I don't think I've ever thought that. I struggle when I start to feel and wonder, 'Well, does anyone care?' But then you realize it doesn't matter if anyone cares. It only matters if you want to do it. I've never thought to not do it; it's too much fun. I enjoy it too much. [Laughs] 

All of these songs are gifts to someone who was going through something difficult. Instead of writing a card or sending flowers, I would send them a song.

I feel like I have a really full life with my kids and my family, but if I didn't do this, I would have to put my energy into something else. I think it's good all around—for my kids, for me—that I still have this thing I'm nurturing that I will always have. It might transform into other things, but I think to continue to be yourself even though your life has changed so much. This is what I've done more than anything—even more than having kids. I've spent more time writing music, promoting music, playing music that I don't think I could just walk away from it. 

Analogue: When you name your album Dearest Everybody, is that an invitatation for any and all to lean in to what you're saying?

Inara: Well, the record is about loss and change and transformation. I feel like I can sound too precious about everything, but that's that's what the record is about. Dearest Everybody is an invitation to all people because I think it was my idea is that we've all experienced this and we will all experience this. It's human nature. So it's a call to all people that we have so much in common, that we can all relate to each other. I think that's what I was trying to get at. 

Analogue: It's been so long since your last solo album. I'm curious if you look up and realize you have the songs for another one or whether it was more intentional, as in, "It's been so long that it's time to make another"?

Inara: I think it's a bit of both. The thing that has changed is that it's harder to put work out. It takes more time. I don't have a month where I can sit in the studio for eight hours a day. It's just not possible. The ability to take time off and go do some shows in other cities is also not there. I've put out a Bird and the Bee record out since I've had kids. I've also put a Living Sisters record out since I've had kids. But making time for my own work... I'm sure most people are this way, too, but I will do something for someone else anytime. I will make the time. But if it's just me, I will put it aside. 

On this record, I started to give myself little writing assignments. I wasn't thinking about a record. I was just writing songs as gifts to people. "Release Me" was a gift for my mom's 70th birthday, and I never thought I'd put it on a record. It's too personal, but my producer, Mike Andrews, thought I should do it. That's how that one came. All of these songs are gifts to someone who was going through something difficult. Instead of writing a card or sending flowers, I would send them a song. 

Analogue: Does the personal nature of the songs, or these gifts, give them their power?

Inara: I've always shied away from being too personal in music, but on this record, I stopped caring as much. I've felt like my songs have an enigmatic nature lyrically, but on this one, I wasn't worried about it as much. Sometimes I was more plain. Also because I was trying to connect to the person I was writing it to. So yeah, I think it has more power because there's a reality to it and I'm trying to connect with a person and express to them what they're going through or how I want to express my condolences. So yeah, I think they connect a bit more because they're pretty straightforward. 

Official Website: Inara George