Since her early days playing open mics around New York City clubs in the mid-2000s, singer-songwriter Priscilla Ahn has become something of a staple in the indie music scene. Her warm, folksy style has landed her tour slots with the likes of Joshua Radin, Ray LaMontagne, DeVotchKa and even Willie Nelson, and her songs have become regular fare on prime-time shows like Grey’s Anatomy and motion pictures like My Sister’s Keeper and Pacific Rim.
With her new album This Is Where We Are, however, Ahn has been exploring a new electro-pop vibe with her work, and the album’s release last summer in the Far East has been met with much acclaim. In anticipation of the album’s official U.S. release on February 25, Priscilla Ahn was kind enough to answer a few questions for MIMO about the record, her musical direction and her creative process in general.
MIMO: Let’s talk about your upcoming record This Is Where We Are. What inspired the music on this record, and what do you think differentiates it from your previous albums?
Priscilla Ahn: Most of these songs are inspired by my most recent life experiences. A lot of them have to do with love, being ready to love, and life after marriage. The sound of this album is definitely the biggest thing that’s different from my past albums. There are a lot of electro-pop elements on this album. Most of the songs were written on a keyboard, instead of my guitar.
MIMO: You released this album in the Far East last summer. What was it like touring this record in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea?
Priscilla: It was a blast! Mainly because it was my first time performing these songs live, with a band. In Japan and South Korea I was playing at huge rock rock festivals. I finally felt like my songs fit in a “festival” atmosphere. But also, the audiences were so supportive all around of the new sound, which really made me happy and excited for this new album.
MIMO: Some musical artists draw the most fulfillment from writing songs, some from recording them in the studio, and some from performing them live. Where would you say your greatest fulfillment comes from as a musician?
Priscilla: It truly hits me in all three of these areas. But for this album in particular, that sense of fulfillment really hit me in the recording studio. It felt so great writing these songs, getting these songs out of my body. But I still had some insecurity as to whether they were good enough to be on a record. But once I got into the studio with Keefus Ciancia (my co-producer), he really gave me the confidence I needed to make them come to life. It made this recording process so extremely rewarding and exciting.
MIMO: How would you describe your songwriting process?
Priscilla: I never like to force myself to write. Usually I’ll wait until a song just hits me out of nowhere. But lately, with all the beautiful distractions in life, I’ve had to set aside a week here, a week there, to cut myself off from the world, and just have fun getting lost in the world of writing. For this album, I took two trips out to the desert and did just this, and pretty much wrote my entire record there.
MIMO: What are your plans after the record comes out here in the States? Any tours on the horizon for you?
Priscilla: I’ll be at SXSW, and then on the road this spring. I’m really looking forward to playing this music for U.S. audiences.