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Yet, there are small, augmenting clues of another life: her son’s Most everything in New York has transformed for Marshall, she says. “I got a waffle from Veselka, and took my boy to Tompkins Square Park — [the squirrels] just didn’t want that waffle.” She’s careful to qualify her nostalgia.“I don’t go back to the past too much, ‘cause there’s always so much growth to people’s lives,” but it’s clear she’s talking about her own as much as any one she ran with back in the day. Since then, multiple tours have been called comebacks, and her album releases have tended to follow, or at least coincide with, personal cataclysm: break-ups, hospitalizations ( charts — a first for Marshall — but that day she was in intensive care, by her own account “fighting to stay alive,” one of several hospitalizations before she would be diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that year.“And then I was in South Africa and I got home from that and I realized I was pregnant. I had to create this permanent force-field around me, on a psychospiritual level. I just went forward and did everything I needed to do to protect my body, myself, my child, my music …When you become a parent to a child, I don’t wanna say you’re unstoppable, but there’s this spiritual force — this ancestral sort of alignment — that keeps you perfectly protective of everything around you somehow.“Because of what I’d gone through before with them, I actually wasn’t sure what I was going to do — like, if I wanted to change my life, change my path, you know?” says Marshall over a glass of wine and the omnipresent cigarette in a dressing room before Tuesday’s show.“With all that pressure on me to create a hit album when you’re not a hit artist — I had to think outside of my natural context of the process. I had to do something I’d never done before and that did something to me. “So for this process, I wanted to make sure that it was just reserved for whatever my divine process might be.Let’s just get out of the way that Chan Marshall, a.k.a. I interviewed Marshall on a rainy, early September day in New York, in the rent-stabilized apartment she’s had on the Lower East Side for more than 20 years.
Turns out carrying a grudge and having something to prove might have been good for Cat Power — as was giving birth three years ago to the son, Boaz, who adorns the cover of her just-released 10th album, Wanderer.“They had said that I needed top producer, famous band. I was so happy with everything I had created, and out of thin air.” Marshall still carries the sting from discovering, months after the fact, that upon hearing she was hospitalized they pulled all the marketing on a point that Matador disputes. It was as if I didn’t know this person I was now, because I had gone through something life-changing. I was on page one, and I felt invisible, because I had no idea.” And that is when Marshall discovered she was pregnant. Instantly I understood that now it’s time to play the protection ball game, and no one fucking wins this game but me,” Marshall explains. Her recording engineer moved from France into the spare room. There’s a cultural hunger for this — babies tempering one’s selfish practice of art is taken as proof of against ambivalence, as if the demands of motherhood cannot possibly align with art-making, for motherhood is defined as an act of sacrifice.And I chose to become very stubborn and did everything myself,” she explains. “They weren’t betting on the horse to win.” She says she fundamentally misunderstood the transactional nature of her connection to the label as something close to kin, “Just because somebody told me I was their family, I didn’t need to believe them. As Adrienne Rich wrote, the suffering of the mother is the primary way culture identifies a woman as a mother.Her success didn’t even register until months later, says Marshall.She’d cancel the European tour in order to recuperate, but was back on the road soon enough, and feeling the pressure to make her record the hit she says Matador — her longtime label — was pushing her to deliver. I got all my fucking music gear out of storage.” She toured until she was into her seventh month, came home, baby-proofed her new house and set up a home studio at the same time. When he was 3 months old I started working [on a woman, and especially if she’s a woman artist.