by Tate Kamish
Over a cup of coffee on a snowy afternoon, I had the pleasure of chatting with Los Angeles-based, folk-rock musician, Phoebe Bridgers. Well, she was making coffee as we spoke on the phone just a few days before embarking on tour. Although the 23-year-old has already toured with a handful of notable artists, including Julien Baker and Conor Oberst, this will be her first tour where she is headlining–with the exception of a couple of dates supporting Bon Iver.
“I’m actually really curious to see who comes to these shows,” she says with excitement in her voice, “I don’t really know what my demographic is or if my shows are loud or quiet… that sorta thing.”
Reflecting on her last tour with Conor Oberst, Bridgers has nothing but positive remarks: “He’s the best. Truly. I was on the bus by myself one time with him and 13 of his friends, and everybody was so nice to me to the point where they were buying me all this chocolate like, try this one; try this one!” She adds, “And I love chocolate.”
People often say, don’t meet your heroes, for fear of being disappointed, but for Bridgers, it seems to have worked out perfectly. Growing up, she really connected with the music of Oberst and Elliott Smith, who were inspired by Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, and Neil Young–some of her favorite artists as well.
“My first concert was Kelly Clarkson; I was obsessed. Then I saw Neil Young the same year,” she laughs before adding with confidence, “That tells you more about me than any other question will.”
Bridgers’ debut LP, Stranger in the Alps, is a collection of hauntingly beautiful, intimate songs about loneliness, relationships, and death. On her songwriting process, Bridgers explains, “I have an ongoing note on my phone of weird stuff that I feel like would make it into a song. Basically I tweet at myself all day, [or] I’ll have a melody in my head and the words will just come naturally.” She pauses, “A lot of times I’ll write from the inside out.”
Despite her songs having a dark overtone, Bridgers seems to have a very bright disposition. She reveals that she is happiest when outside, naming the Griffith Observatory as one of her go-to spots. In fact, one of her favorite parts of touring is seeing aspects of nature that she has not yet experienced, and asking locals about their favorite hikes and trails.
Likewise, Bridgers deeply values connecting with her audiences: “I’ll have amazing conversations with audience members. I like that people bring themselves and their lives to my shows.” With each performance, she wants to inspire more women to write songs of their own.
Bridgers is also itching to record again, hoping to simultaneously find some studio time and “still love touring,” by the end of the year. Until then, she will continue the ongoing stream-of-consciousness on her phone, maybe even including some of her most-used emojis–