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Glitter and Life:

An interview with Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls

By Gregg Shapiro

The Indigo Girls – Emily Saliers and Amy Ray – are having a moment. Since the release of Greta Gerwig’s“Barbie” movie in the summer of 2023, in which the queer duo’s“Closer To Fine” was heard

repeatedly, to today, when they are prominently featured in Tom Gustafson’s “Glitter & Doom” and

Alexandria Bombach’s doc “Indigo Girls: It’s Only Life After All,” Indigo Girls are hotter than ever. That’s just the half of it! In addition to a well received performance on the “Today” show, Indigo Girls are

embarking on a multi-city concert tour, including several dates with Melissa Etheridge. In the midst of

their super busy schedule, Emily was generous enough to make time for an interview. [Indigo Girls performon August 11 in Highland Park atRavinia.]

Gregg Shapiro: In the introduction to my favorable review of Alexandria Bombach’s documentary “Indigo Girls: It’s Only Life After All,” I talk about how since the summer of 2023, when “Closer To Fine” was featured prominently in Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” to today when we are speaking, Indigo Girls are

having an amazing year. So, I’d like to begin by asking you to say what it meant to you to have “Closer To Fine” heard in “Barbie.”

Emily Saliers: First of all, it was a huge surprise to be asked. And it was an honor because both Amy

and I adore Greta Gerwig’s work. It just kind of fell out of the sky, this massive gift. We knew it was going to be in the trailer, but we didn't know it was gonna be in the film. We certainly didn't know that was going to be featured in its own way in terms of its content in the movie. It was so exciting and so gratifying because we love Greta’s work. I loved the movie, too. I thought it was amazing on so many levels. The issues it delved into, the way it looked, how stylized it was, how funny it was, how clever, and the dancing. The whole thing was like this big experience. So, to have “Closer To Fine” included in

something that I really loved so much as a piece of art was fantastic. Then, of course, there was a spike in interest, I think, in the Indigo Girls’ music. What a gift that was to come out of nowhere and take hold. I think we’re still feeling the repercussions of that in a positive way.

GS: As I mentioned, I enjoyed the doc “It’s Only Life After All.” How did it feel to be the subject of a

documentary and have your life and career highlighted that way?

ES: We met Alexandria, the director, through Kathlyn Horan who was one of the producers on the

documentary. We had lunch together and she said, “I’d like to make a documentary about y’all. I can see that that’s never been done before.” In our conversations, we were clear with Alexandria that we wanted it to be not so much just about us, but about our community. About a community that has gone through these things together. I think she handled that very deftly and respectfully. Instead of feeling like, “Here’s a movie about y’all,” it feels more like here’s a movie about the power of music and community. Especially for queer folks or people who don't fit inside a box, for them to have an openness and expression. And for us to go through our hard times in life together. The fact that it landed within the scope of the time of “Barbie” and “Glitter & Doom,” was just kind of like, “Wow!

What is happening?” This is like the giving season for the Indigo Girls.

GS: I’m glad you mentioned “Glitter & Doom.” When I interviewed Amy in 2023 about her

solo album (“If It All Goes South”), I asked her about the possibility of a stage musical consisting of

Indigo Girls songs, and that’s when I learned about “Glitter & Doom.” The movie not only

incorporates many Indigo Girls songs, but you also appear in the movie as the character of The Dream. What was that experience like for you?

ES: We read the script – we getscript submissions sometimes – but this one really stood out. We loved

the story. Then we heard the music, Michelle Chamuel’s arrangements and production, and how our music was arranged, produced, and performed in a way that we’d never heard before. That was really

exciting for us and we loved it. We love Tom (Gustafson) and Cory (Krueckeberg) who co-directed the

film (written by Krueckeberg). To be a cameo – Amy, I think, was terrified. Amy will tell you she does not like to act. I think she did an amazing job. For me, it was exciting. I was in high school theater, and I don't mind that. We had a different experience of actually being in the film. We both love the movie and it just premiered in a theater in New York. It’s so well done. It's a colorful and well directed film with the songs. The actors are captivating. I love the story. Again, it was this wonderful piece of art that someone was creating that they invited us to be part of with our music. That feels good. Also, the other thing Gregg, that's important to me and Amy, is that when we were coming up, I remember this growing up as ayoung queer in Atlanta; there was a divide between the gay male world and the lesbian world. There was the complexity of the horror of the AIDS crisis, but beyond that, there was a separation, sort of never the twain shall meet. I feel like this experience with Tom and Cory and the gay male presence, the queer presence in the film, and then bringing in the lesbian artists to contribute was such a great energy and a great confluence of things that historically has not always happened. It's sort of like bringing all the queers together. That was profoundly moving to me and Amy, as well. I think it was important. I don't know if you remember that divide.

GS: I do! We’re close in age, and I remember that divide within the community. When I would tell people about “Glitter & Doom,” about how it features the Indigo Girls’ music, they would ask if it was a movie about a lesbian couple. I’d tell them, no, it's about a male couple and they’d say, “Wow! Indigo Girls songs in a movie about a gay male couple!” So, yes, you’re right. “Glitter & Doom” attempts to bridge that gap.

ES: It does. I knew it, intellectually, but sitting in the theater and experiencing it was a whole other

thing. It brought to life the way that queer people come together and the power of that, artistically, politically, socially, in every realm. Amy was sitting there in the theater experiencing the same thing and we didn't realize it until we started answering questions during the Q&A

after the film was shown.

GS: “Glitter & Doom” also includes a song from your 2017 solo album “Murmuration Nation.” What does

that inclusion mean to you?

ES: When I heard the way it’s treated in the movie, it was so thrilling. I wrote that song, “Match,” with

Kristen Hall, one of the original members of Sugarland. It takes a seed of a song that was written so

long ago for fun with a friend, and it makes it become this whole world of its own in the context of the movie. I love the way it was treated musically. In a way, it's like sitting outside of something and hearing something beautiful, but then it's connected to you because you created it. It's hard

to articulate, but I thought it was really cool that they included a solo song from each of us in the whole

body of work for the movie. For me, sitting there as an audience member, I was like, “Oh, who wrote this song? It’s pretty. This is really working [laughs].” It was the experience of being outside and inside at the same time and I don't get to experience that a lot. It was really cool.

GS: We’re speaking on March 28, and later today Indigo Girls perform at David Geffen Hall in New York, and the concert includes a conversation with the brilliant music journalist Ann

Powers. What are you most looking forward to about that?

ES: Amy and I have the utmost respect for Ann Powers. When we first met her, we were so intimidated,

I don't think we could barely speak [laughs]. Now, our paths have crossed through the years. To sit in

an intimate gathering and talk with Ann, it's always an honor to have anything mediated by Ann. She’ssuch a stellar journalist, a journalist of incredible pedigree. It’s going to be intimate because Amy and I won’t be standing up at our mic stands and doing a whole show. We're seated and we're playing

songs and Ann is asking questions about the process. It’s going to be a much more intimate experience. Of course, to be in New York, it's one of my very favorite places to play. We're looking forward to it. Lincoln Center is beautiful. It’s sold out. They're going to be showing it on

big screens outside the theatre, and that will be cool, too. I'm looking forward to the whole experience of it.

GS: Speaking of concerts, Indigo Girls are touring with Melissa Etheridge. How did this amazing combination come to be?

ES: It is so cool! We've never done anything like this with Melissa. Of course, we have such respect for her career and her music. She was doing one of those rock cruises and we got invited to be on that, and we couldn't do it. But the speed was planted. After all these years, there was interest from both parties to play some shows together. Then it turned out to be playing summer sheds together. She’ll have her thing and we'll have our band, and we'll do some stuff together. Then it turned into this run of shows. When we first announced to a crowd that we were doing shows with Melissa Etheridge, it was in the Northeast somewhere, people screamed [laughs]! It was like, “Okay, this is a good decision.” We've been in touchwith each other about doing a song together or whatever the case may

be. It’s the first time we've done something like this with a storied artist like Melissa and we're both so


GS: Additionally, on Sept. 1 Indigo Girls are playing Town Hall in Provincetown.

ES: Woo-hoo!

GS: This made me wonder if Lea DeLaria, who not only appears in “Glitter & Doom,” but is also a

presence in PTOWN might be joining the Indigo Girls for a number.

ES: We haven't heard from Lea, but we would always welcome Lea with open arms, of course. We love Lea, and if Lea is there, of course we'll do something together. But we haven’t gone through official lines. Maybe you’re putting the bug in Lea’s ear right now.

GS: I’m sure you don’t need to be reminded, but it’s been four years since the release of the Indigo

Girls’ “Look Long” album. Is there a new Indigo Girls album in the works?

ES: It’s kind of floating in the ether. Everything is meeting at this juncture where we have the documentary and “Glitter & Doom,” and then “Barbie” happened, and we're doing a lot of

symphony shows and touring. At the same time, Amy has a 10-year-olddaughter and I have an 11-year-olddaughter. We’re feeling the pain of missing life. So, we're trying to orchestrate how to keep our lives in balance with home life and touring. Then Amy had a super long tour with her solo band. And I'm writing for musical theater. To answer your question, as we're getting older, we just seem to be getting busier [laughs] with these projects that are all wonderful. We have talked about the next album, and we started tossing around ideas, but we're going to take a little bit of a mental break this summer and spend time with our family. Then I’m sure we’ll be refreshed after that and from the tour with Melissa and Amos Lee and start to really focus in on when we can do the next album. There will be

a next album, it’s just been such a busy time.

GS: Finally, because Indigo Girls are renowned for their activism, do you have any words of wisdom

regarding the upcoming 2024 election?

ES: [Long pause] I'm just going to come out and say I'm voting for Biden. I'm going to say that it is

absolutely critical that if you’re of voting age and ability, you have to vote. You cannot be distracted by

the media that may pull you one way or another. I encourage you not to be distracted by a feeling of, “Well, my vote doesn't count,” because this election is as critical as any election has ever been. We're seeing a shift after Roe V. Wade was overturned in local and state politics. The onslaught of legislation against queer people, particularly trans people; conservatives are coming for all our rights, all of them, I would say, please vote, vote progressive. Don't be distracted by anything, even if you feel you have to vote for the lesser of two evils in your mind, vote for the lesser of two evils. This is an absolutely critical juncture for obvious reasons. I truly believe that the fabric of democracy is coming apart in this country, but we have to protect our queer family. We are under attack, and you have to vote for the candidate who supports us. That candidate is obviously Biden. It's extremely important to vote in your local

elections because conservatives who are anti-queer are taking over school boards. You know what

they're doing; banning books. Gregg, I could spend the next 20 minutes imploring anybody who's

reading this to vote through a progressive lens. They're coming

after us and we need to stand up for equal rights and for the future

of democracy in this country.


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