During lockdown, Beth Ditto this is About to do a full 180 degree axis work. She had devoted her entire life to music, and dropped out of college to pound the pavement as lead singer for the indie rock band Gossip. She has never held any other job, aside from her work in fast food – which is hardly a high point in her career. So when the live broadcast stopped indefinitely, she found herself struggling. “I was really, really about to [starting] Daycare,” Bustle says. “I was like, OK, I can do child development, and I can take these lessons online. I really enjoy children. I feel at my best with the kids. It’s something I can do.
Fortunately for Ditto fans – and perhaps unlucky for some local young children – she was chosen monarch, a Fox drama directed by Susan Sarandon about the country music dynasty, before admitting defeat. But it’s hard to overstate how desperate I felt when considering another career: In many ways, music is all you know. His parents were music lovers (my mom’s tastes were towards Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath, while my dad preferred Patsy Cline and The Bee Gees), and Ditto and his siblings followed suit. Although she lived in a small town in Arkansas where MTV was eventually banned because she wasn’t “divine enough” — but not before Ditto could print on Madonna and Cyndi Lauper — her family was bohemian. When her father led the voice in shows, she followed; Her older brother dropped out of school to play drums in a band when he was a teenager, and she accompanied him to concerts. “My brother, when he was fifteen or sixteen, used to play with people like Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, doing the casino circuit,” she recalls. “Isn’t that crazy?
Years later, Ditto brought the same rebellious spirit to their voice. Gossip formed the band with her childhood friend Nathan “Brace Paine” Howdeshell, and their debut albums garnered critical acclaim. “We grew up together,” she says. “We have our own musical language that combines so easily, you know, good or bad — that’s another thing entirely. Lately, Ditto has been making his way as a solo artist. She’s released a few albums, worked in her modeling career (she’s a staple at the Marc Jacobs stand) and dipped her toe into the TV (before monarchShe has landed a recurring role in the popular Kirsten Dunst series, Be a god in Central Florida). “I’ve always compared gossip to being in a relationship with someone for a really long time…and then one day you’re 38 and you’re like, ‘I need to know if I can do this.'” I have to see if I can do this myself. I want to know that I can be independent.
It turns out that she was more than able to carve out her own path – although in 2021 Ditto found herself writing songs with Howdeshell again. She asked him to help record another single, and soon that arrangement became something more. “I was like, ‘Does this have to be a gossip record? And he said to me, ‘If you want to.’ I did. She wanted to go back to the stage. Cursed nursery.
Below, Ditto talks about Gossip’s upcoming record, what she learned solo, and the merits of Reba McEntire.
Go on on your own and learn the ins and outs of the movie:
How did your creative process develop when you moved on your own in 2017?
The craziest part about doing something on your own – if you’re just a singer like me and the only thing you can do is write tunes and sing – you’re at the mercy of everything else. You have to be open and you have to be a good listener or you can’t [do it] …what was so cool was to prove to myself that I could do it.
What was it like to collaborate with Nathan again, to return to this familiar place at an unknown time?
It was very simple, like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s super easy. So this was really refreshing in a way. It was good to remind myself that these connections are really important and they don’t come up all the time.’
What was going on in your life when you started making this new album?
We wrote the record before Rowe went down, which is really interesting. A lot of records were written before all this really big and horrific things happened… Most of the time, this was the COVID record. We were [staying] In Hawaii, fortunately for us, and then in the meantime in Portland where I live – Portland’s reputation was fulfilling, and the way Donald Trump was talking about Portland was driving me crazy. I’d tell people, “Oh, I live in Portland, Oregon,” and they’d say, “Oh my God. And you’d say, ‘Yeah, the city isn’t on fire.'” what are you talking about? I was really proud that this city was on the streets and didn’t give up, you know, especially during the pandemic. There was a lot of danger and Portland couldn’t stand this nonsense. And I was very proud of it. So there’s part of that in the registry.
You did a great job acting. How was this experience for you? Did you learn to develop new creative muscles?
Above all, I don’t feel like an actor. I think it’s still real. Let’s be realistic guys. Let’s not get too excited. Creatively, it’s really interesting because most of the characters I’ve played are Southern women who are a bit eccentric or something. And that’s something I can definitely be, like, ‘Okay, I know this woman. I grew up with this woman. But I feel like more than anything, it’s really technical stuff that I have to learn.’
For example, I remember Anna Friel, who was there monarchShe was like, “Well, they said something about Mr. [shot]“…I was like, I swear to God, in my mother’s life, I have no idea what [you’re] Talking about…we were supposed to match in the first shot the whole time?!
About Crafts of Love and Reba McIntyre:
What is your favorite karaoke song?
The song “X Factor” by Lorne Hill is one, I love singing that. But “Fancy” is number one – “Fancy” by Reba McEntire.
Who is your current music idol?
I tried listening to a lot of punk just to get my head out of the mainstream space… so I’ll say The Splits.
Was there ever a time when you felt like you made it as a musician?
Oh yes. The ability to quit my job and pay the rent. Kill Rock Stars is the name we were then, [they] He gave us all $300 a month and that could increase what we were earning down the road. So I was able to quit my job and pay the rent. It was like, “I did it.”
Was there ever a time you thought about quitting music? If so, what helped you get through this ordeal?
Yes, of course. I feel like there was a time when I was under a lot of pressure to tour a lot. And it basically made me feel like I couldn’t be punished. I couldn’t be in touch with the things I love. I’m a real homebody and I love being in my own home. I wanna be home like, to me, I never thought I’d have a home, so when I was home and in my element, I was like, ‘Oh my God, my home. Like, “I can’t believe this.” It’s funny because the music is what got me home, but I was really like, “I can’t keep living out of the bag.”
I saw your crafting account, by__a__thread. What has DIY taught you?
I loved these things when I was a little girl. I loved it – embroidery, crochet, just learning to knit, needle punch, whatever. I love sewing for my nieces.
Some of my favorite times with my mom – I was really obsessed with the ’60s. And when you were a kid, you couldn’t just buy push-pull pedals. Like, I wanted to wear a baggy, oversized shirt and short pants. So my mom and I made a pattern and made my own pants. I like to be resourceful and say to myself, ‘Okay, I can’t find her. Alright, I’ll get there.’
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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