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Interview with Normandie Wilson on the 'Hot Cocoa' Tour

Normandie Wilson Photo by Michael Vasquez

The tattooed pixie that is Normandie Wilson will be performing at the White Rabbit January 29, Sunday afternoon, at 1:00PM alongside The Golden Hour. Collectively they are on Hot Cocoa Tour, and as this show is kind of a last minute gig, it’s completely free. The two performances will be loungy show tunes-inspired pop with lots of love- sounds like a great way to enjoy a nice Sunday afternoon.

Tom Mohrman: Your recordings on Bandcamp have varying instrumentation. Lots of different moods and feels. What’s your show set-up for this tour?

Normandie Wilson: It’s just me, my voice, the keys, and thankfully Joe of the Golden Hour has been playing drums with me. My buddy Frank Lightell joined me on sax in Nebraska, too.  A goal for this year is working on a stable of musicians who can join me, all over the world. If I just had a couple more arms I could play mallets with piano, but alas, I’m no octopus.

TM: Are you touring to support a specific release?

NW: Right now, no. I won’t be coming to the West Coast again until August, so when I was offered the chance to perform, I jumped at it. It’s really hard to do a solid national tour that involves the East and West Coasts and doesn’t involve 12+ hour days or being 6+ weeks. I have a new record coming out in March.

TM: What have been some road highlights?

NW: Having my buddy Frank join me on saxophone in Nebraska was awesome and legendary, as it always is. And today, we were in Idaho, and we got pulled over by a cop who spent his spare time making high-end audio cables, and instead of getting a ticket, we gave him CDs and he gave us his card and let us go. Cool guy.

TM: What’s your relationship with birds?

NW: I love birds. I grew up watching birds with my grandma. I have always painted animals, and when I lived in LA, I ran out of ideas for show flyers. So, I started drawing birds on my flyers and people started stealing them. I work as a part-time Art Educator with the San Diego Audubon Society, teaching a couple drawing classes per year and trying to stay as involved as I can. I love all wildlife, but birds in particular.

TM: Who are your influences?

NW: My favorite band of all time is The Beach Boys. I love Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s work, along with the Brill Building songwriters. Holland-Dozier-Holland and Ashford and Simpson’s songs (Motown) were always on around me when I was a kid. And songwriters like Cole Porter and Lieber and Stoller have had a big impact on me too. When I first learned how to play, I was an accompanist playing mostly show tunes to back up a choir. So… there you have it. Ben Folds, Billy Joel, Elton John, a lot of classic piano slayers. There’s so much more that I haven’t mentioned but you get the basic idea.

TM: How did you and the Golden Hour meet?

NW: Our booking agent set us up on a show for the same bill in Lincoln, Nebraska. The first time I heard Ashley’s voice I started crying. Hey, I was on tour and I was super-exhausted, but it still had a huge effect on me.

TM: Have you performed in Seattle before?

NW: Oh yes. A lot, both solo and with Red Pony Clock (the indie-mariahi band I play marimba with)

TM: What’s coming up this spring/summer?

NW: The San Diego Bird Festival will be taking up a lot of my time from March 1-4. On March 8th, I have a new record coming out, called Geography And Other Problems. I’ll be playing some shows in San Diego and LA, and then kicking off a tour to SXSW and over to the East Coast. And then, I’m heading back to Europe to play some more shows. And after that I’m taking an extended break in Paris. I may run away. (Just kidding, kind of)

Normandie also sends out an open invitation for a jazz trumpet or sax player to sit in on her set. “I will personally buy you more than one drink and do something else really, really nice for you.” Enticing, yes?