By Alison Rooney
Anna Schulze performs with Maia Sharp as Roscoe & Etta. The duo returns to the Philipstown Depot Theatre in Garrison on Wednesday, Aug. 21, after a sold-out show last year. Their latest album, Blessings, Curses, Anchors and Wings, will be released next month.
You’re 20 years younger than Maia. How does that play out?
I’m more in the box, working on the computer. But we have similar influences. We’re both used to working in home studios, which enable you to be a less rigid and under the gun. Inevitably when Maia sends me stuff she likes, I know that I’ll like it, too.
You have said you didn’t go with Maia & Anna because you “didn’t want to sound like two folk singers wearing dresses in a meadow.” Who are Roscoe and Etta?
They’re two of Maia’s guitars. The running joke is that Roscoe is the cranky old one and Etta is more of diva electric. For better or for worse we have taken on these personas on and off stage. It was important to not be precious. Our first record [in 2018] was raw, celebrating the imperfection. We went with what felt real rather than right.
You live in Los Angeles, but Maia has moved to Nashville. Has that made the collaboration more difficult?
It forced us to be more deliberate about the time we have.
Are there advantages in touring as a duo?
Having someone to lean on is great. From a practical standpoint, we get to split the driving. Performing together forces us to make sure we are meeting each other half way. With recording, Maia is good at audio, getting a strong signal, cleaning up audio files. I love visualizing the tracks, and manipulating with plug-ins, from an organic audio file. For instance, with “Play On,” it began as a jangly recording, but I heard a conga part I wanted to put on top. It became the impetus for rest of the [debut] album.
How do you complement each other?
We enable each other to get out of our heads and write in creative ways. I enjoy starting something by playing and letting the energy of the room take it. Maia is good at taking the pieces and lining them up.
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