Artist: Mali Obomsawin
Hometown: Farmington, Maine
Latest album: Sweet Tooth
Personal nicknames: Boms
What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?
Every time I play my country-punk song “White People” it seems to change the energy in the room a bit. A lot of uncomfortable laughter, a lot of lulu’ing from Native audiences, and a lot of anxious shuffling from a certain generation of white folk. One of my favorite memories of being on stage was playing this for the first time with my band Taco Butt (c*nt-punk duo with Isa Burke). The reactions were priceless, and I wasn’t quite sure how the lyrics would hit. It was like the first time trying out a new comedy routine… or like jumping off a big rock into the water. Your heart stops a little before you land.
Which elements of nature do you spend the most time with and how do those impact your work?
I spend a lot of time running in the woods or on trails by the rivers. This is where I can dissociate in a healthy way and you also come out of it with runner’s high. It’s how I was able to get through years of non-stop touring (I got pretty close to losing my mind but I think running kept me from the ledge) and I have actually thought of songs while running before! But mostly it’s just my meditation that regulates my ability to be present in all other parts of my life.
What has been the best advice you’ve received in your career so far?
Don’t rationalize anything that feels wrong. And don’t let the label own your masters.
What other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc. — inform your music?
Definitely literature. I’m always reading, pulling lyrics from books and poetry. This new album is somewhat of an exception because it’s either in Abenaki or it’s instrumental, but usually I read novels with a pen in my hand and underline poignant phrases or words with a good mouthfeel, haha. I use those for my songwriting. I also have some form of synesthesia and I think I used that a lot on this record. Knowing the images associated with some of the stories on Sweet Tooth, I tried to give the compositions “colors” and shapes that matched. For instance “Pedegwajois” is set in the middle of so-called Lake Champlain in a thunderstorm. So I tried to give the melody some blue, green, and yellow. When I hear the composition played out, I can see that scene.
Since food and music go so well together, what is your dream pairing of a meal and a musician?
I would like to eat pickles with Mildred Bailey.
Photo Credit: Abby and Jared Lank