Five Questions for Nicki Bluhm
Photo by Noah Abrams
Lafayette-born singer-songwriter Nicki Bluhm—who recently released a solo album, To Rise You Gotta Fall—talks about her East Bay roots, her passions, and her need to speak the truth.
Q: What’s your favorite place in the East Bay?
A: The Lafayette Reservoir. I went to the Roughing It Day Camp at the reservoir as a kid and had so many firsts there: my first time fishing, horseback riding, and discovering wildlife. I even wrote my first song there. I was about five, and my song was called “My Day Camp Horse.” I guess I was combining two of my life’s big loves—singing and horses—at a superearly age.
Q: What are your favorite Bay Area music venues?
A: The Greek [Theatre] in Berkeley is awesome. I’ve played [at] The Independent and The Fillmore in San Francisco, and love both of them. In fact, the first time I performed live was at The Fillmore; I got onstage to harmonize with my now-ex-husband. What an amazing place to have your first onstage experience!
Q: Who is your ideal musical collaborator?
A: Joni Mitchell. She’s my favorite songwriter and is always so articulate and sensitive. I love how she unveils her feelings in such a deep way.
Q: Where do you turn for inspiration?
A: I get a lot of my ideas walking in nature, when I can get away from technology and let my mind wander. I also like to get lost in reading fiction. I love character studies that shed light on why we behave the way we do. I also think there’s a kind of comfort in storytelling, in the sharing of and retelling of our stories. Right now, I’m reading books by Charlotte Brontë. It’s cool to find parallels that still feel potent today.
Q: Your latest record is called To Rise You Gotta Fall. How true has that concept been in your life?
A: Totally true. I’ve been through a lot, including a divorce, moving to Nashville, and making my first solo record after six years playing with The Gramblers. I feel it’s important to always speak the truth, even if it’s unhappy and does not resonate with everyone. This record is the most authentic self-expression I could make, and if it only helps one other person listening to it, then I’d still be stoked. nickibluhm.com.