Artist Club Chat with Emily

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Emily participated in a Dixie Chicks Artists Club chat on January 20, 2005. Some of the things discussed were working with James Taylor, life on the ranch, and her pregnancy.

Host: Greetings everybody. Thanks for joining us. We are in the official Dixie Chicks Artist Club chat with Emily Robison and we're going to jump right into the questions. First of all, welcome. Thank you for joining us today.

Emily: Oh, sure!

Host: Question number one, if you were not a musician, what would you be doing now career wise?

Emily: Oh boy! If I was not a musician...that's hard. This is all I've done since I was sixteen so I've never really had any know what, when I was younger I always wanted to fly jets in the Air Force and I always thought that,s what I might do if I wasn't doing music. So I might be an airline pilot.
Host: Wow! Okay. What's the last book you read?

Emily: The Secret Life of Bees.

Host: Okay. Another fan asks what's in your CD player right now?

Emily: Let's see. Bob Dylan's box set so that takes care of two CDs. I've got a five disc changer so...Bob Dylan, oh let's see. A new artist named Waylon Payne. What else is in there? I change it so often. Some demos that we recorded a few weeks ago so some Chicks music in there. Listen over and over again and then one more. I think I've got an Alison Krauss in there right now too.

Host: Okay. Will the Dixie Chicks be taking the kids on the next tour?
Emily: (laughter) Do we have a choice? Yes, kids will be coming on the next tour, and count them -- seven -- seven kids on the next tour and that's just the three of us. Our road manager just had, his wife had a baby. Our manager Simon has had a baby recently so there will be plenty of children on the road. I don't know how many returning crew members there will be knowing that. So I'll see.
Host: Have you picked names for the twins yet?

Emily: No, we're throwing some things around right now but I haven't decided quite yet so I'm not really announcing anything.

Host: Okay, I'm sure you can comb the message boards for some suggestions.
Emily: Yes.
Host: Are the Chicks working on the new album currently? Please say yes.
Emily: Yes. Of course we are...we're always working on stuff. Even when we're off, we're, and having babies, it seems like we're always kinda gettin' together and doing creative things. So, we've been writing ever since last spring off and on. And we're gonna go... we really hit it hard in the last couple weeks starting to write every week, almost everyday every week and then we'll go in the studio as soon as we feel we have the right mix of songs and everything. But yeah, we've been writing and getting ready to go in to the studio.
Host: Great. Do you get letters from family members about the song 'Travelin' Soldier'? I have a friend over in Iraq now who loves that song.
Emily: We really do. We get a lot of military families writing us and telling us that how much that song has impacted their life. And it's just a bizarre kind of occurances. We recorded that song even before 9/11 happened. It was on the list to record before that. It was just kind of odd how that song has been very topical even though we didn't expect it to. We just thought it was a great story song. But yes, we do get a lot of letters and emails from military families saying how much that song means to them.
Host: Yes, it's a great song. I really missed hearing 'You Were Mine' during the last tour. What's the process you go through in choosing which songs to play and which ones to omit?
Emily: Gosh, when we have to put a setlist together it really is hard because the three of us have different favorites. A lot of times ballads are some of the ones that go by the wayside because in a live show, you want to keep the energy up and you want to keep things moving along and sometimes ballads are the first ones to go. So I was sorry since having written that song it is one of the ones not to be on the setlist. But you know, you just kinda have to... it's always a compromise when you're putting a setlist together and whatever works best on stage.
Host: Another fan wants to know what is the strangest thing you've ever been asked to autograph?
Emily: (laughing) Oh geez...the strangest thing...a lot of body parts but I'd have to say the strangest request was -- he wanted us to sign his chest and he was going to go directly to the tattoo parlor and get our signatures tattooed on his chest. And we thought this guy is going to regret this. If not hours, at least years from now. So we didn't do it just because we didn't want him to permanently mark himself on his chest like that. So I would think that's probably the most bizarre.
Host: Yeah, that's a good one. Okay. Next question. What was the most surprising thing you learned while working and touring with James Taylor?
Emily: Surprising thing...just how much of a perfectionist he still is as far as his music and how he puts, talking about putting sets together... it's interesting. We were in a rehearsal and he brought out all these note cards that he had all his songs listed on them. Almost like flashcards and he put them out on Natalie's dining room table and started putting his set together almost like a puzzle. And it was such a different way of doing that than we had ever seen but he was so into it and he was really... it was something he did every time he did a show. He would change his setlist around and did this card thing and to me, it was just kind of refreshing to see someone who could very easily go through the motions. He has so many songs that -- there's not one song that wouldn't be amazing that he would do in his set but he really cares about... just the minute details of how to put a show together and things like that. So it was very inspiring that he was still doing that at this point in is career.
Host: Great. Next fan asks I was privileged and thrilled to attend the Vote For Change concerts in Detroit and Cleveland. I absolutely loved the smaller, more intimate venues. Any chance you'll perform in smaller venues on the next tour?
Emily: (laughing) We might not have a choice. (more laughing) Yes, that's possible. Never say never. The size of a venue is usually a product of demand so we'll see. It's definitely a lot of fun to do the intimate shows because you can really carry on a dialogue with the audience so... and the big arenas are also fun because you have just the energy and the amount of people. So, hopefully we'll have the choice. We'll probably throw some in there regardless of what we do.
Host: Okay. Does Gus have any favorite songs that you sing to him? Your version of 'Rainbow Connection' was the absolute best track on that CD for early childhood education.
Emily: Oh, thank you! We had fun making that. It was kind of fun to be able to do a kid's song. He's really into really basic things. Nothing as advanced as 'Rainbow Connection.' 'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes'. That's his favorite song right now. We do that one a lot. We do 'Itsy Bitsy Spider'. He really likes that one. He loves as far as just listening to music -- he's a rock n' roller all the way. He hears the beat and he just starts thrashing his head around so I think I've got a little heavy metal kid on my hands, I dunno.
Host: Next fan wants to know if you're going to have a round stage again next tour and what the response was to that?
Emily: We probably won't repeat ourselves. No, we won't be in the 'round. We'll probably be something, who knows what we'll do but we've kinda been there, done that. I don't think we'll do that. We had a great response to it 'cause it allowed us to get closer to more people and really kind of interact with a lot more people. And nobody was, as opposed to some arena tours when you're in the back seat of a normal stage arena tour, you're really far away from the stage so this kind of cut down on that but the tradeoff was because you're trying to work all sides of the stage, we didn't really get a lot of time together -- the three of us on stage -- so that was a tradeoff.
Host: A lot of fans asking what chores you do on the ranch?
Emily: What chores do I do on the ranch. I feed the dogs. Gus is my main chore right now. I won't lie and say I do a bunch of manual labor or anything like that. But I enjoy hanging out with the horses and being companions to the horses. Really my biggest project right now is we're remodeling our ranch house so I do a lot of the go between the contractor and everything like that. So I'm kinda masterminding the remodel.
Host: Uh huh. That sounds like a fun project.
Emily: Yes, it is fun. I enjoy, you know what, back to that question of what would I be doing if I wasn't doing this. I would probably be remodeling old buildings and refurbishing things. I love to do that.
Host: Yeah, that's always fun. So how far away - I mean, so long is the project taking you? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Emily: Well it's an old 40's ranch-style house. A river-rock house out in the... near where my husband grew up in Bandara, Texas...and was built in the 40's. A really cool house just not built for a growing family so we're just adding on a kids wing and some other things and...I'm really, I'm really into keeping the historical aspects of whatever the traditional architecture is. Part of it... that's the hard part is just making sure that what we add on matches and has, you know, architectural integrity, but that's really what we're doing right now out here. I actually am living above my stable. We built an apartment above our stable while we redo the house so I'm actually kinda in cramped quarters these days. It'll probably take about a year from now.
Host: Well a lot of fans want to know if you've ever thought about doing a song with Charlie.
Emily: You know what...we really, it's been odd how much we've kept our musical careers separate. Like he'll, Natalie sings with him all the time and it's just like if Natalie can sing with him, why would he ask me to sing with him (laughs). You know? It's, it's one of those things where if it's gonna be a duet or something like that, he and Nat sound great together. I've played some banjo on some of his albums. But really for the most part, it's kinda nice to separate our work from our art. We really don't talk about the music business when we're together that much. And, I dunno, it's just, it works for us.
Host: Yeah. Okay, next question. How do you choose your clothes for a concert?
Emily: Oh...well, we have a stylist named Marjon who's been our regular stylist for a little while and I dunno...we just kinda work with her on kinding of mixing what our taste is with what's fashionable at the time and I dunno...we just kinda see what's out there. When you're gettin' ready to do the tour you just see what's out there and kind of put something together and try to make it all work as unit, you know. 'Cause I might have a totally different idea of what I wanna wear than Martie and Natalie and vice versa. We just work with the stylist. They help you come and get that stuff together.
Host: Yeah. I think I need a stylist.
Emily: (laughs) I need a stylist when I'm off the road! I'm a good jeans and t-shirts kinda gal.
Host: Yeah. Okay. Is there a new artist in country music that you love?
Emily: Yeah. I think I mentioned him earlier. Waylon Pane is a new artist and it's not, I don't think it's a major label - it might be a major label release. I'm not sure. I'm sure you can look him up on the web and find out who his label is, so...he's just real, he's kind of country meets rock but his songwriting's really great. Keith Gattis is another artist with a CD recently that's great. And a lot of times, this is not, you know, what you're hearing on the radio necessarily, but they're out there and they're great. And they may not be, you know, breaking through to the top 40's stuff right now but they're really great artists, songwriters and...
Host: I know a lot of our fans our gonna your lead, so is there any other ones you can recommend?
Emily: Oh...let's see...those two and of course Charlie's new album is out and it's wonderful I might say as objectively as I can. It's just great. It's his best record yet. And Miranda Lambert who's coming out right now. I really like her voice and I think she's gonna do some good things.
Host: Great. Okay. While on tour, what city has the best shopping?
Emily: As far as clothes?
Host: Yeah, clothes.
Emily: Oh gosh...any of your major, like, L.A., New York. Chicago has some great, great shopping areas. But L.A. and New York are always your best bet.
Host: The fans love the way you dress so that's why we're getting all these questions.
Emily: (laughs) A lot of dressing questions.
Host: Okay, switching many horses do you have?
Emily: 32.
Host: 32? Wow.
Emily: I don't know all of them. It's getting... we're trying to sell some right now. It's getting a little bit much. We kinda got addicted to the horse thing where... you know we have a handful of ones that we keep around the house, near the house and, you know, ride and stuff like that. And the rest are brood mares and are more investment kind of horses.
Host: Yep. What kind of dogs do you have?
Emily: I have two Blue Heelers.
Host: Two Blue Heelers? What's a Blue Heeler?
Emily: It's a cross between an Australian Shepherd and a Dingo.
Host: Oh my God.
Emily: Kind of a new breed as far as breeds go but it's definitely a cattle dog. A Heeler means that it heels cattle.
Host: Okay. Do you get together with friends to watch any shows like Desperate Housewives?
Emily: (laughs) You know what... I saw Desperate Housewives for the first time the other night all the way through and my mom was the one who got me watching it. And I'm like 'Mom!' (laughs). You know, she's getting all racy on me. But you know what, I... not really, not really with friends. I'm kinda out here in the boonies. Some of Charlie's and I's favorite shows are a lot of the HBO shows like Ali G. We always watch Daily Show on Comedy Central. That's a must. Sopranos, Six Feet Under, a lot of that kind of stuff. I don't really watch a lot of network... like sitcom kind of shows.
Host: What about reality shows?
Emily: I get sucked in every once in awhile. Like I'll probably get sucked into American Idol again (laughs). But I'm more into the beginning of it, you know when everyone's really bad then I am once they start weeding it down.
Host: Always the best shows.
Emily: Yeah.
Host: Okay. Now the most important question. What kind of shampoo do you use?
Emily: Oh my gosh. What kind of shampoo. My hair gets tired of using one thing all the time so I kinda switch around. I use Bumble & Bumble. Aussie's. This grocery store stuff called... L'Oréal makes it. I can't remember what it is but I like it. I can't remember the name of it. I just know what the bottle looks like. And then I'll use Aveda as well.
Host: Okay. What is your absolute favorite song of all time?
Emily: That's impossible.
Host: You can only pick one.
Emily: It's impossible. You can't do that. To me it's like... depends on what kind of mood I'm in. One of my favorite country songs is "Blue Eyes Cryin' In The Rain." But as far as my favorite song of all time...
Host: That you're strategically trying to slip a few in. We understand. I think Natalie was asked the same question and I believe by the end of the answer about 42 songs had been said.
Emily: (laughs) Yeah, it really, it really depends. You ask me on a different day, it's gonna be something different all the time. But... 'cause I've been asked that before and I've always tried to figure out what my favorite country song was. So, I'll go with that.
Host: Okay. Interesting question. Do the people who follow you from town to town scare or amuse you? Apparently this question is from one of them.
Emily: (laughs) From town to town, it depends... it depends. You know if you meet them and they're kinda scary looking, I'm scared!
Host: Or if they pull up next to you real fast in a van?
Emily: Yeah, if they're like chasing you down the street, that's one thing, but showing up at all the shows, I think it's great.
Host: Okay. What was your and Charlie's reaction where you found out you were having twins?
Emily: Thank God it's not triplets (laughs)!
Host: That's an optimistic way to look at it.
Emily: (laughing) Yes.
Host: Do you have a favorite junk food?
Emily: Favorite junk food...Cheetos probably.
Host: Cheetos. Solid. In an interview what's the dumbest question you've been asked? Is it this one?
Emily: I don't think so. 'Do you and Martie and Natalie get along?" (laughs). It's like 'No, we've only been together for like 10 years. We hate each other.' you know. Of course that was sarcastic. Sometimes when you read things, they're not...
Host: Of course. What is Charlie's favorite dish that you make for dinner?
Emily: Oh...
Host: Or breakfast or lunch for that matter.
Emily: Well, he does most of the cooking, so...
Host: What's your favorite dish that Charlie makes?
Emily: Oh...probably his breakfast tacos.
Host: Okay. Another fan asks you've inspired me to learn to play an instrument? Out of the banjo, guitar, and dobro, which would you say is the easiest to learn and which is the hardest?
Emily: It's hard to say. I started banjo when I was really young and so it came to me easier just because when you start younger, you pick things up easier. I would say if you're gonna start with something, start with guitar and then go from there. But I'm not saying it's easier. I'm just saying it's probably the better instrument to get a grip of what, you know, and then branch off from there.
Host: Okay. Are you gonna start your kids on any instruments?
Emily: If they seem to have a natural knack for it, yeah. I think Gus is definitely musical. I don't know what that means as far as how he'll respond to taking lessons or something like that, but...yeah. I'm gonna expose 'em to everything from you know, music to art to sports to...and just...I think kids kind of have to figure out their own talents, put their own, you know, in their own way.
Host: Yeah. Okay, did you have any weird cravings while you were pregnant with Gus, and do you have any now with the twins on the way and are they the same, or different?
Emily: First trimester was tomato juice. Anything with tomatoes in it. Tomato juice, you know, tomato sauce. That sort of stuff. And it sounds so cliche, but pickles. I love pickles (laughs).
Host: Did you dip them in ice cream?
Emily: No, I've been pretty good about the ice cream thing. The last time with Gus, the last trimester, I think I finished off a quart of Rocky Road about every week (laughs). Excuse me, a gallon.
Host: Yeah, I was gonna say a quart's not that bad.
Emily: A gallon, every week of Rocky Road. I'm avoiding buying Rocky Road at all this time, 'cause...
Host: Yeah a gallon is pretty impressive. Okay. Will you ever do any songs in other languages?
Emily: I dunno. I don't know that we'd do it for like a, as a way to promote something but if a song came up that had some different language, you know, with a different language, possibly.
Host: Okay. The next fan asks you have recorded two of Patty Griffin's songs, and I was wondering if you're considering recording anymore? Perhaps "Useless Desire"? I guess that's a recommandation as well.
Emily: Yeah, it sounds like it. We are always looking to find incredible songs and Patty Griffin is one of those people that we always go back to and try and dig up things and see what else she's coming out with, and yeah, yeah. As she gets more and more popular and everybody knows about her, it's kinda hard to remake stuff that a lot of people know her for. The two that we took from her before were on an album that didn't get released and so we kinda felt like, you know, it was something that could be perceived as not already having been done. But, it's hard to say.
Host: Okay. Who was your biggest musical influence growing up?
Emily: Biggest musical influence...probably Emmylou Harris.
Host: Okay. Were those the Chicks kids on the holiday greeting card, and who's idea was that? I loved it.
Emily: (laughs) Yes. It was all our kids in addition to Simon our manager, his two boys. So it was our kids plus his. And I think I thought of it. I think I thought of putting the kids just naked on the front, like just you know facing the other way, just totally buns showing. Trying to get all those kids wrangled... we finally had to just do it, computer, put them together with the computer. And we were just coming up with what the saying was gonna be on the inside was another thing. I said, you know, "Happy Holidays! Bottoms up! It's the Holidays!" or something like that and that didn't stick, and so we did a bunch of different stuff. But yes, the whole play on the Entertainment Weekly thing was...I think it was my idea.
Host: You can take credit for it at least.
Emily: Yeah, sure.
Host: Do you prefer performing inside or outside and why?
Emily: Probably inside. Just because a lot of times your instruments will do weird things if it's too cold or to hot or it's this or that, you know. I think the vibe is great outside but there's a lot of technical things that can go wrong.
Host: Okay. How many hours a day did you spend practicing the banjo when you first started?
Emily: I have no idea. I have no idea. It depends. I mean, as a kid you know, you kinda, or at least I did, I'd get real into it for awhile and then I'd wanna go do something else for awhile and... so you know, I always had lessons once a week and I probably practiced probably about an hour a day or something like that.
Host: Okay. Jane from Norway wants to know if you guys are coming back to play Norway in the near future?
Emily: Well, everytime we tour we try and go overseas and make that a part of the tour, so, if Norway is, if y'all have enough people who want us there, we'll definitely go!
Host: Okay. I think we have time for a handful more questions. So, we know you're home is in Texas but if you could, what other place would you like to live?
Emily: Oh, probably some island in the Great Barrier Reef. Off of Australia.
Host: Okay. Will "Mississippi" be on the next album?
Emily: You know what. We recorded that on our time off. Just kinda for fun and I don't think so. We're gonna try and write most of our stuff this time around. Never say never but there is a recording out there floating around. Well, it's not floating around. We have it but, I just don't think, I just, I dunno if it's gonna make the cut.
Host: Okay. Next fan asks I've seen Charlie play a couple times. What's your favorite song of his?
Emily: Loving County is probably one of my favorites songs. Just 'cause it's so well written. Was there another part to that question? I can't remember.
Host: No no, that was just it. What's your favorite fast food?
Emily: You know what. I've tried to stay off the fast food recently but I've gotta say if my walls would come down and I gave in to a temptation, it would have to be Sonic.
Host: Okay Are you a runner?
Emily: A runner?
Host: Yeah. What do you do for exercise? Your fans wanna know.
Emily: Well, when I'm not pregnant, I don't really run when I'm pregnant. But I do run when I'm not pregnant. I like running. It's a mixture, I get bored easily so, yoga, pilates. When I'm pregnant, like recently I've been doing a lot of pilates and the elliptical trainer. It's real low-impact, so. Like a stair-stepper but it goes around in a circle.
Host: Do you ever get out on the river and float? There are some incredible rivers in your area.
Emily: Yeah, our ranch is actually between a very large stream and the river and so, you know, we've been fishin' lately but we haven't really...I actually taught Gus... Charlie and I taught Gus how to swim in the river versus the pool. So we were out there quite a bit this summer. Don't really float...I don't have a lot of time to float (laughs). I'm taking care of things!
Host: Okay so last question and it's okay if the answer's no but a lot of fans are curious if Gus will get on on the phone and say hi.
Emily: You know what. He is taking a nap at the moment.
Host: Taking a nap. Okay.
Emily: He's taking a late, much needed nap. He wouldn't go down this afternoon so he's asleep in the other room but I appreciate them asking.
Host: Yeah. Well, thank you very much. Is there anything just in closing that you'd like to say to the multitudes of fans that are joining us on this chat?
Emily: Well, I just wanna say thanks for tuning in and you know, sticking with us. And we're definitely... we're working on the next album and we can't wait to put it out and see everybody again! It feels like it's been a little while and it has but, we're just recharging and getting reinspired and we'll see you soon!
Host: Great, and last chance to leak a little baby name information to the group if you're interested.
Emily: You know what. I was gonna go back to that and say we'll name them Britney and Justin!
Host: Yeah, that works!
Emily: (laughs)
Host: So you know the sexes, it's a boy and a girl?
Emily: A boy and a girl. Yes.
Host: A boy and a girl. Great. Well good luck with everything, thank you very much for joining us. Thanks to all the fans as well, and we'll look to do it again in the future. Thanks guys

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