| FROG TROUBLE cover
|Linda and Sandra during the recoding of FROG TROUBLE
(photo courtesy of Sandra Boynton
The EDER-tors of THE VOICE were thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Sandra Boynton in advance of the release of FROG TROUBLE, her eagerly anticipated book and accompanying Country CD. On this fun recording, Linda and other well-known performers can be heard singing songs that have an appeal to all age groups. It was great fun getting to learn more about Sandra!
VOICE: Fans of Linda Eder were very excited to learn of her participation your latest project, FROG TROUBLE.
SANDRA: I know! Imagine how excited I was when Linda said yes to this! And then to work with her—what an unbelievable joy.
VOICE: This is the fifth album you’ve written and produced. What was your inspiration for “going Country” this time around?
SANDRA: I’m not really sure, but I think it really came out of my last album, BLUE MOO (2008), which was a jukebox era Rock-and-Roll thing. If you love Buddy Holly, Brenda Lee, and The Everly Brothers as much as I do, they’ll sooner or later lead you to the heart of Country.
VOICE: You designed and illustrated the songbook in addition to being the songwriter and producer of FROG TROUBLE. Does the art come first, or does the music come first?
SANDRA: Definitely the music. I spent over a year making the album before I began really thinking about the songbook that goes with it— though I certainly knew it would have a vintage Country look to it. Actually, I did design just the book cover very early on, because I thought that showing each prospective singer what the companion book would look like was an important part of the overall presentation.
VOICE: There are so many labels tied to Country music. Can you tell us what style or styles of Country music best describes the songs found on this recording?
SANDRA: The songs are quite varied, but overall there’s a decided retro sound and look to the whole project. It ranges from a Cowboy lament (the title track “Frog Trouble,” sung by Blues rocker Mark Lanegan) to classic Country (“Copycat" performed by Brad Paisley) to Honkytonk (”Broken Piano” sung and played by Ben Folds) to Rockabilly (“Heartache Song” sung by Kacey Musgraves) to Linda’s track: straight-up Blues. And beyond. Moody or lively tracks from Alison Krauss, Fountains of Wayne, Ryan Adams, Josh Turner, Dwight Yoakam, and Darius Rucker. I know, right?
VOICE: In reading about your amazing career, we found that your creativity seems to have no limits. Were you involved in writing both the music and the lyrics for FROG TROUBLE?
SANDRA: I write all the lyrics, and pretty much all the melodies. My fabulous music-production partner, Michael Ford, is a wonderful pianist and skillful engineer, and together we’re a lean team: we have our own small studio, where we do all the arrangements together, and all of the editing and mixing. We usually have to travel all over for the recording sessions, but in Linda’s case, because she lives only an hour away from our studio (and because she’s so nice) she came to our studio to record her vocal track. The studio we have is a homegrown place, and she was very comfortable with that.
VOICE: When did you become familiar with Linda Eder’s music? Do you remember the first song you heard her perform?
SANDRA: I go WAY back as a Linda Eder fan! My first love was theater, and my four children (now grown) share that fascination. After high school, my eldest daughter, Caitlin, spent a gap year in New York. This was 1997. She saw Linda in Jekyll and Hyde, and immediately insisted that the rest of the family had to go to New York to see the show. I seem to remember Caitlin played us “Someone Like You” over the phone. We all went, and were all thoroughly captivated. How could you not be? I can’t count how many times one or another of us has gone to hear Linda in concert after that. I do remember the first time I heard her do “Man of La Mancha” at the Shubert in New Haven. Absolutely staggering. That’s the best performance of anything I’ve ever, ever heard.
VOICE: What was your reaction the first time you heard Linda’s voice?
SANDRA: It was WHOA. Just WHOA. I mean, WHOA.
VOICE: Did a particular recording of Linda’s give you the idea that she would be a perfect fit for your country-themed recording?
SANDRA: Not really any one recording. I have all her albums, and they’ve always been in heavy rotation in our house. It’s her exquisite voice and her unique and soulful delivery that made me want Linda for “Deepest Blue.” The song is a blues song, but thematically it’s about the profound beauty of the color blue. No one can convey simple and profound beauty like Linda Eder.
VOICE: What was it like producing and recording FROG TROUBLE on famous “Music Row” in Nashville with some of the best musicians in the business?
SANDRA: Thoroughly wonderful. A revelation. For “Deepest Blue,” we first recorded Linda’s vocal to a scratch instrumental track. Then we went to Nashville and recorded the live instruments all at the same time, at Ben Folds’s studio. (Mike Ford piano, Kenny Vaughan electric guitar, Viktor Krauss bass, Luke Bulla fiddle, Jim Hoke sax, Bryan Owings drums.) They LOVED Linda’s vocal, and they were inspired by her to take the song in a classic Memphis direction. So cool.
VOICE: Was it difficult to put together such a star-studded line-up for FROG TROUBLE?
SANDRA: It took a long time, because these artists are so busy, and you have to wait till they have a moment to consider the song you’ve sent. But it was certainly worth the wait. I can’t imagine a better roster than the one that slowly fell into place for FROG TROUBLE.
VOICE: Besides the children who will love both the book and the recording, do you believe the CD will appeal to adults as well?
SANDRA: When I’m creating my albums, I don’t spend much time at all thinking of them as children’s music. They’re meant for everyone. The cover of this one says “For Ages One to Older Than Dirt.”
VOICE: You’ve had an extremely successful career as an author, illustrator, greeting card creator, lyricist, and record producer. Among those, do you have a favorite “creative hat” to wear?
SANDRA: I love doing all those things. I’m so very lucky to have the opportunity to try so many kinds of creative work.
VOICE: Is there one achievement in your career of which you are most proud?
SANDRA: I actually think it’s this album and book. I needed to learn so much and try so many new things in order to get this whole project off the ground. There were times along the way when it looked pretty daunting and unlikely. I’m so happy I stayed with it.
|Get all the details on purchasing FROG TROUBLE on Sandra's website: SandraBoynton.com
Preview the song Linda recorded, "Deepest Blue," below: