Jewel Interview by Derek Signore, sound magazine
5.1.13 Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater
STEAM: Your Greatest Hits album, released in early February, features the radio versions of your hit singles. Why release the album now so young in your career and was there ever a thought to put a live track on there as well?
JEWEL: Well, it was kind of hard for me to validate doing a greatest hits album for years, even though the label had been asking me since I was 25. I didn’t feel I had a body of work yet that I felt spoke for me as a reflective point. I wanted to try out different genres and hadn’t had a chance to do so yet. Also, since anyone can make a greatest hits on their ipod at any point, why release one? The reason I came around and finally released the album was that no one was able to get these radio edits in a physical form. As far as live material my fans bootleg my material all the time. They call it ‘Angel Food’. I’m okay with it as long as they seek no profit from it. With such a wide variety of live material online circulating already I didn’t feel it was fitting for the album.
STEAM: You recut two songs on the album, one of which ‘You Were Meant For Me’ with the country band ‘The Pistol Annie’s. When you decided to take the leap into country in 2008 was there any opposition from those within the Country industry?
JEWEL: I definitely wasn’t ‘Welcomed In’. They are very suspicious of people carpet bagging. I faced a lot of skepticism at first which I expected. I did not enter into the country genre because I felt it should just be given to me, I was happy to earn it and work for it. I had to retell my story to the country community, touring two to three cities a day combined with months and months of radio. I think the reason I was able to be successful is that country fans have a real meter and nose for authenticity. I think it’s a shame that the industry is so divided. I was shocked that when I left Atlantic Records that I was not able to release songs to country radio. ‘You were meant for me’ is a country song. It’s illegal. There are completely different formats and business model. I don’t think fans see it as musicians can ‘only paly for one team’ and I think that with how much the country format has opened up recently the industry is taking notice.
STEAM: You emerged onto the scene before the internet era where your variety of hit singles led to great album sales. Having emerged on the scene today though things might have been different. Having made your way through that era have you had to adjust your song writing process at all to appeal to a public buying strictly singles?
JEWEL: The best advice I ever received was ‘Hardwood Grows Slowly’. What that meant to me and what I’ve tried to model my career after is the fact that there are no shortcuts. You can’t magically have a really solid relationship with your fan base. You have to put the time in. It wasn’t popular at the time, and even though I was signed to a major label and had all those perks, that I wanted to tour the old fashioned way. I played in Boston every Thursday night, Philly every Friday night…and so on and so forth on a circuit. What that allowed me to do is build up a cult fan base reminiscent to what you would find in the sixties. There are plenty of artists who sold as many records as I did that came out at the same time and they ended up being a flash in the pan. For me, if you have that fan base, and are loyal to them, they will be loyal to you and support your music and you need not worry about them investing in one single at a time.
STEAM: When will we see a new live album from Jewel?
JEWEL: I don’t know what I want to do. I have a country album that I’d like to do. I have an album like ‘Two Hearts Breaking’ that I’d like to do and I have a Pieces of You follow up in the works as well. With my child now I don’t know how to do huge album pushes so I’m kind of just waiting now until I figure that out. I feel like I’ve not really pushed myself as much as I could as a singer and I’ve been a bit underwhelming as a result. I’d like the opportunity to sing the standards I grew up listening to so I can push myself as a vocalist. So…there’s a lot of stuff I’d like to do, I’m just not sure in what order they’ll all come out in.