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Almost A Dirty Dozen with AVI WISNIA – November 2021

| 7 November 2021 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Philadelphia songwriter Avi Wisnia is pleased to announce Catching Leaves, his first full-length album in more than a decade, out November 5th. Produced by acclaimed bassist/conductor Ken Pendergast (Melody Gardot, Macy Gray), the collection follows the passing of Wisnia’s brother, who first introduced him to the joy of music, and grandfather, a singer and Holocaust survivor who helped him rediscover its communal power. Wisnia writes with a gentle touch, reflecting on love and loss as he crafts a tender ode to living in the moment, to surrendering to forces beyond our control and finding peace in growth, change, and acceptance. The arrangements are similarly honest and intimate, mixing hints of jazz, roots, and the Great American Songbook together into an organic swirl that’s at once beautiful and bittersweet.” We get Avi to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

This is my first studio album in 10 years so I’m really excited for these new songs to be out there. If you listen carefully – hidden among the string and horn arrangements – you’ll catch the sound of a typewriter, the hum of a kazoo, and the very distinct sound of a Fisher-Price xylophone (which also made a cameo appearance on my previous album).

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

As far back as I can remember, I was always making music. I was improvising and making up melodies as soon as I was tall enough to reach the piano keys. There was never a question music was going to be my life.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Ben Folds and the first two Ben Folds Five albums were hugely influential in the type of songwriter and piano player I wanted to be.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Chet Baker, Ben Folds, and Tom Jobim.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Jacob Collier. He has such incredible musicality and an ear for crazy complex chords. I would love to hear one of my songs in 57-part harmony.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Avi Wisnia sounds like a dinner party with John Legend, Sara Bareilles, Ben Folds, and Norah Jones. I used to be told I looked like Fred Savage or Jason Biggs. Now, I get Jeremy Strong from Succession, and I’m not complaining.

7. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

The year before he died, Heath Ledger came to one of my shows in New York. My friend got bold and invited him to the after-party. Everybody at the bar was making such a big deal about him. We ended up talking for a bit, but I was trying so hard to think of something to say, I barely spoke. By the end of the night, we found out this guy was actually not Heath Ledger, just some obliviously hot Australian tourist that looked a lot like Heath Ledger.

8. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

I love traveling, and one of the best perks of being a musician is getting to visit new cities and meet new people and explore. If I wasn’t able to make music any more, I would still like someone to pay me to travel – is there a job where I go around the world rating hotel pools?

9. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I love talking about food, and here are my personal Top 5 Worst Foods: 1) pickles, 2) mushrooms, 3) olives, 4) ketchup, 5) most cheeses in certain scenarios. I never get tired of questions, ask me anything.

10. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I tend to shy away from making videos and being on camera in that way. I’ve been working on getting beyond that and making more video content. Stay tuned for more of that!

11. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would love to have been a part of the classic Getz/Gilberto bossa nova album. Those songs, the way they are played, the way they are written, totally changed my approach to music and I think that album contains some of the most exquisite sounds ever created by human beings.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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