Queen Gasoline: Our day with Carrie Akre
We walked into Carrie Akre's warm and cozy home greeted by the aromatic scent of homemade lentil soup simmering on the kitchen stove, her handsome 11-year-old son Orion ushered us in. Carrie has recently gone vegan and had prepared a delicious spread of plant-based chips and dips for us to nosh on while we discussed local music scene gossip, empowering ourselves, taking charge of our music and careers, our love lives and our ambitions for world domination. You may know Carrie Akre from her work as frontwoman with the legendary Seattle bands, Hammerbox and Goodness. Carrie released her fourth solo album called, Passage in August of last year and has been performing frequently ever since. Carrie Akre is a kind-hearted, generous and loquacious soul with an easy smile and bright expressive hazel eyes. Though Mirrorgloss are friends with Carrie, we are also huge fans of her voice and legacy. Did we tell you that we have an upcoming show with Carrie Akre at The Crocodile in Seattle on February 1st with Warren Dunes? Oh and remember kids, Stay Glossy!
The following interview was conducted by Del.
As one of the only female singers that have successfully fronted two rock bands and never backed down on your femininity, and was able to keep up with the male dominated scene In Seattle in the ’90s, how were you able to keep charging on? How were you able to stay so strong without having many female musicians supporting you early on?
I like being a woman. I have never wanted or wished to be a man but I also have never placed my gender at the forefront of my mind when I go to do something. I have always believed that women are deep, Mists of Avalon, earth-based, give birth to people and things, badass, leaders of tribes, witchy, mystical, nurturer powerful beings. Those things are powerful to me. Who wouldn't want to be that? If I was to choose to be a superhero it would be a woman character because they are sexy and powerful. I was interested in being good, not on whether the boys excepted me to be and in fact, I felt that if I'm good they can't deny me. Which has been most often true, because I can truly sing and most men have liked me for that reason. I often heard rock dudes say, "I don't usually like female singers, but for some reason I like you". My guiding post or my thought, belief was, if I'm good I will win, not always the case I find. Now that doesn't mean I don't recognize what women go through or the issues of women in any male-dominated world but I have never thought my gender was something that would get in my way. From a very young age, I have been used to being on my own, alone. Not that there was tragedy, but my mom was single so I was at daycare from 7 am to 5 pm every weekday, walking to school on my own very early on. So being alone in my experience (other than boyfriends) was something I was used to. It wasn't like I felt it as "being alone". I did always want girlfriends but had never been a girl who had a girl tribe. I do now though!
What inspired you then and what inspires and motivates you now?
In my twenties, it was all new to me to be in bands. I felt powerful, I liked being able to express myself through lyrics and singing, it was powerful to have the music behind and around me. I am really a new wave baby and someone who has spent a TON of time listening to music, daydreaming a lot and music as my backdrop was delicious in helping dream future adventures. I always had a Walkman, traveled a lot and loved listening and daydreaming. I loved New Wave for its melodic tones (Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins, The Fixx, Naked Eyes, Splitz Enz) and really listened to a huge range of things. I also LOVED Pat Benatar (the first concert I ever saw). She inspired me because she was powerful, operatically trained (I am a choir girl) and her stage presence was badass. You couldn't deny her. I wanted to be that. I am a singer's singer. I've always marveled at the lyric writing process. When I look back at lyrics I realize I've been talking to me the whole time and the fact that magically, from my subconscious, these words and stories come out is something I love.
Things went so fast starting with Hammerbox and I was so young that I never stopped to regularly ask myself, how is it going for you? are you ok? Which left an empty space between the music I made and me. It sounds strange, but I have spent the last 10 years working on understanding, why I will continue to make music. For a long time, I just thought why bother writing anything more. Everybody is doing it. Why should I do it? who cares? that is all the empty, nonconnected space I had in me. I really didn't know the answer to that AND a lot of other things were happening and taking up space like getting married, having a child, working corporate jobs and I just didn't have it in me to keep doing it. But it was always nagged at the back of my brain. It just wouldn't go away OR I just couldn't totally let it go. It's taken me a long time to get to a place where I am solid on my WHY, committing to my why and balancing the rest of life and feeling good with all that. Life balance you know?
My reasons: I want to write my stories. I want to share them. I like the act of communing with an audience and sharing my stories is what I have to give. I think of me as a singer/songwriter and a healer. I believe my voice and music heals people. That is what I believe. I now am more confident in claiming the title "artist".
I would just like to state again, how iconic you are and what a trailblazer you are, I had always thought of you as a punk rock Pat Bentar, especially during Hammerbox, and had always looked up to you since the “grunge” and alt scene had so few female powerhouses back then, what would 20-year-old Carrie tell an older, wiser Carrie right now?
Acknowledge, understand how powerful you are. It's okay to claim your power. It's okay to know and believe you are powerful. Claim your crown. Take your place as an artist now. If your dreams, fantasies, destiny don't look like everyone else's, keep following your own vision. It's okay that your vision isn't like everyone else's. Stop being so shy. Don't give your power away. Break up with boyfriends who aren't working out, sooner! Stop hiding behind boyfriends. Don't be afraid of your destiny. You won't always be alone.
Let’s talk about your solo album, your latest, Passage?
It took me a long time, a year or so before I could write or post about my mom dying, but at some point, I knew I needed to sing about it and using my voice as a vibration is healing, I also needed to express myself and I wanted to share this experience. I think it was the most conscious I have ever been about choosing to write. I've always written as therapy but I was very present when I wrote these songs.
Did you have any reoccurring themes during the lyric writing process?
Definitely me talking to my mom about her and, or her talking to me. (Ocean, This Time, Righteous My Love) I also wrote about breaking out and away/survival (Wrestle it Out), claiming I am beautiful whether someone sees me or not (Beautiful Tonight), my bad relationship with wine (Lead Astray) and there is always a hopeful, I'm going to be okay theme I tend to use in writing (What I Want). A lot of the writing process was a stream of consciousness, it's just what came out.
How do you juggle motherhood and marriage and still maintain status as a viable and working musician?
That is still a huge work in progress. Note, I'm also working full time so there is more of the pie being
taken up. Marty, my husband, didn't know anything about me musically when we met, my son didn't know anything about mommy being a music person with a fairly big fan base in the NW. It's weird to have a big part of myself be unknown to supposedly the closest people to me. I think a lot of women lose themselves when they become mothers. That role is big as well and you become mom more than yourself. Carrie is no longer there. So it's up to me to bring me back. They know more now but they have never seen me in full swing of music so I think there will be a whole new evolution to our relationships, balancing our lives, but I have to be my full self. I have to believe I can have the musical vision I want and have my home and family. It's something I am choosing to be committed to and we will figure it out as we go. I used to think it was one or the other, that if I did music I wouldn't ever have a family? Now I have a family and I need to trust and believe I can do both.
To learn more about Carrie Akre visit her here: https://www.carrieakrecreative.com/meet-carrie and here: https://twitter.com/carriemakre and if you haven't heard Carrie's music before or just wanted a soundtrack, check out this Spotify playlist compiled by Del that features cuts from Hammerbox, Goodness and from Carrie's latest effort, Passage. .https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1xVLyciP8CD1IwcJvqXHUh?si=coOY1_HDSkaLZGMpHzzAmg