Antje Duvekot confronts trauma with a newfound wisdom and fierceness on her new record, My New Wild West, her best in her 20-plus year career produced by her friend, Mark Erelli. To put it plainly, Antje, who moved to America from Germany at age 13, had a really rough time as a teenager. She was transplanted to a totally new universe with a new language she barely understood with unsupportive and abusive parents. She soothed herself with music, her first love. She sang and played guitar very quietly, which has translated to the musician she has become. Her voice can be soft, childlike and playful, but it can also be strong and deep. The control is incredible. Not to mention, this woman’s observation of the world is profound. In each song, she creates worlds that come to life with her poignant lyricism. It’s arresting and always unexpected.
This interview was different for me in that Antje and I have known each other for over two decades. That’s happened before on Basic Folk, but it feels like our careers started on the exact same day and we’ve grown together in this messy business. The story is that we met at Club Passim (maybe it was a Gillian Welch tribute night, and thanks to Matt Smith) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, around 2002. It took one song and I was floored. She gave me her CD, I took it, and played it over and over on the WERS Coffeehouse (the morning folk show). Every Coffeehouse DJ knew how to spell her name and would expect to field calls every time we played her music. That just doesn’t happen anymore; it was right at the end of an era when radio could do that. From there, Antje’s career took shape. I’ll be forever grateful to her for that experience. It really felt like radio at its best: connecting a community with something really needed in an organic way. It’s good to get back together in our conversation. Please excuse me if I’m a little too casual in this one!
Photo Credit: Jeff Fasano