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'The song is the boss': Kelly Hogan's interview outtakes

With her new album out today, the former queen of Cabbagetown shares a few of her favorite things - like hardware stores, legendary studios, Vic Chesnutt's songwriting, and the Varsity

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With Kelly Hogan's new album I Like to Keep Myself in Pain out today, Steve LaBate shares outtakes from his recent interview with the former Atlantan for CL. They talk about her ghostly experience recording in L.A.'s legendary East-West studios, why she chooses to leave songwriting to the pros, and the main difference between southern Wisconsin and the dirty South. (Hint: It ain't the weather.)

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I hear you're living in Wisconsin now.

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Yes. I love it. It's like the northern South. Or the southern North. I lived in Chicago for 11 years, and four years ago this month, I was like, "You know, I need to be closer to a creek, to be able to stand in a creek whenever I need to." I'm actually driving right now, taking my dogs to the dog park.

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When you left Atlanta for Chicago back in the late '90s, you said you tried to quit playing music for a while. What kinds of things did you try in the meantime?

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When I moved to Chicago, I was just going to get a job at a hardware store. I'd been painting houses in Atlanta for a long time with my former Jody Grind and Rock*A*Teens bandmates Bill Taft and Chris Lopez, so I did a little of that when I was in Chicago. But I accidentally got a job at Bloodshot Records, doing publicity. It was just a total coincidence where they needed somebody, and my boyfriend at the time was best friends with one of the Bloodshot people. I needed a job and they needed a publicist. So I didn't do very well trying to distance myself from music. I did paint a lot of houses, though, and I wanted to get a job at this hardware store called the Crafty Beaver. I wanted to work there because I wanted a T-shirt. I thought it was cool. And I love hardware stores.

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It's been 11 years now since you made a solo record. Why did you take such a long break? Also, tell us a little about what you've been up to in the meantime. I know you've done a lot of singing on other people;s records.

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I've been busy! Really busy. I made my last record (2001's Because It Feel Good) in Athens with David Barbe, which was a killer time, of course. But my record came out just a few weeks after 9/11. It was a weird time. Everybody was just kind of sitting and staring, which I understand. It was just a tough time to tour. ... For 11 years, though, I was doing music from all sides, being all different kinds of bands, anything. I just wanted to always try and be a better musician every single day.

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Having done a lot of sidework over the last decade, how did it feel to take the reins again for I Like to Keep Myself in Pain?



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