An interview with Butterfly Boucher.
By Melody Alderman
P.S.: Are you getting prepared for the upcoming tour?
BUTTERFLY: I am, I've just got three or four more days left. I've had the band come over here to Nashville and rehearse for a couple of days. Now I'm going to paint a little banner thing for the stage and buy new suitcases and things like that.
P.S.: Are you getting excited? It should be a great tour and a great opportunity going out on the road with Sarah (McLachlan).
BUTTERFLY: I am, actually I'm getting anxious because we've been talking about it for so long now I'm just like, 'Come on!' So I'm just finally getting ready to get onto a tour bus and get into a routine. I really enjoy being on the road.
P.S.: Can you tell me about the night you played at Piano's Nightclub in New York and Sarah McLachlan and Steven Page (Barenaked Ladies) showed up?
BUTTERFLY: That's right; It was forever ago now. I think it was one of the first gigs I had played with the lineup that I had at that time. It was a five piece band. We were kind of under the gun a bit. There was a lot of pressure to be absolutely amazing and blow everybody away, which was kind of unfair on the band because we were just doing a little club gig in New York, just trying to do some warm up stuff. I kind of heard that Sarah might come but I wasn't sure. We have the same management so my manager said, "Well I think she wants to come." Then sure enough, after the show Sarah came up and said she was blown away and very inspired, which is the ultimate thing you want to hear from somebody you admire is that you inspire them or you could give back that inspiration. That was very flattering. Then we all went out for dinner and there were about twenty of us or something. It was a very rowdy dinner. I didn't really get to talk to her much but it was very nice to know they had made the effort to come out and see me. Obviously it's been very productive too because I went out with Barenaked Ladies and now Sarah too. It's been absolutely lovely to have that support. They really stuck at it. It's one thing for them to go, "We'd really like Butterfly on the tour." But there's so many people who have to be convinced. They have to keep saying, "No, I really do." I'm very appreciative of their support. It's great.
P.S.: Something I think's very cool is that there were a couple of write ups about you in Teen People and Elle Girl. The teen market has been so saturated with Britney Spears types, that it's very exciting to see an artist such as yourself be given attention. Someone who actually writes and is involved in the process of the music rather than just being the outcome of a business plan. How does it feel for you to get recognition in that market?
BUTTERFLY: It's great. I'm just who I am and I'm not like Britney or Christina. I'm a little bit modest really. I'm not going to be taking my clothes off so it's really lovely to know that who I am is still acceptable, even up against competition like that. When there is such a strong image out there of T&A, you do get sucked into it. I've even had, to a small extent, some people who didn't think I was feminine enough or thought I needed to show more skin. It's like, 'What?' For me that's the weirdest thing because I grew up and it was all about the music. I like to look nice and I like having people think I look beautiful as any girl does, but the standard and the bar is put so high. I can't compete with that. So it's nice that I have done photos and I have been myself and I'm not trying to be sexy and these are the photos that are getting into those magazines and ultimately, the music is being talked about. So it is great and I hope that's encouraging to other girls out there.
P.S.: I was reading about your childhood and it sounds very unique. I was just wondering, of all these experiences, do you have a favorite memory or story that stands out? I ask because I read that you swam with crocodiles and lived on a bus and such. I don't know if it's true, but...
BUTTERFLY: (Laughs) There's plenty of things. I grew up in Australia and traveled all around Australia. Just the scenery in Australia is enough to remember your childhood as this amazing film. As I remember, there was this giant forest... I think it was called Giant Trees or something and these trees were huge and they were so tall. When I write songs and I think of a forest I imagine that. There's also another place in West Australia called The Pinnacles which has these like stalactites in the desert. It's amazing. They go from like 1inch to these ones that you can climb... like 10 Feet high or whatever. Just these amazing images and I don't even remember where they are because I was so small but that element of my childhood I loved. I was really just surrounded by amazing scenery which is quite a pallet to work from in terms of writing lyrics. There's plenty of stories from my childhood that I wouldn't know where to start. I do remember at one point we didn't have a motor home, later we were given a motor home, but we were driving around in a Toyota station wagon and we would make up songs all the time as a family. We would sing in harmony and stuff like that. That's a happy memory. Also, we used to play this game. We had these candies... I don't know what you'd call them over here but they're these hard jellies covered in sugar and we would each get one. This is how scabby my family was. We didn't have a lot of money so they made up a game to make the candy last longer. We would get one piece each and the last one to finish it won. I don't even think we won anything. It was just the honor of being the last one to finish it.
P.S.: Has your family been able to see the initial wave of your success?
BUTTERFLY: They are obviously very happy and very proud of me but they're busy doing their stuff as well. Most of them live in Australia or England so they don't actually see a lot of it. The only taste they get is going onto the internet reading reviews and stuff like that. Recently I taped a bunch of the TV stuff that I'd done over here and sent it to them to keep them in touch with what I was doing. From what they read, they're happy for me. They're glad to see something actually come from all of the work we've done as a family and all the work I've done. For all of the projects that have failed (laughs), to get here is very nice. Nice isn't enough of a word, but the best reward for me is that the music is out there and people are hearing it. I've been recording for years and years for different people, for myself, for other bands that I've been in and the most rewarding thing is actually releasing an album and getting it out there. Knowing you can make another one now and just that feeling that you've got something to show for all of those years of going, 'I'm a musician and I don't make much money and can I sleep at your house?' When you've got something to show for it, it's like the certificate you get at the end of school or whatever.
P.S.: I spoke with Sarah (McLachlan) a couple of months ago and at the time she was doing insane amounts of promotion for her new record. I asked her if it was difficult being a new mom and having to give so much time to promotion and she said, "I did not work on that record for four years to have it sit on a shelf. I want people to hear it and I'll put in the time to help that happen."
BUTTERFLY: It's true. It really is the most rewarding thing when people are buying it and they're hearing it and they'll put posts on the chat room saying, "I'm really inspired and it's the best album I've heard in a long time and I'm really fussy." It's just like, 'yes, good.' You get to hear genuine comments back and not just from the people around you.
P.S.: What is it like to record an album and be 95% responsible for what's going on?
BUTTERFLY: I love it. When it starts to happen and I get into the studio... and this has happened since I was really young. I grew up watching my dad in the studio and then he taught me how to use all of the buttons and stuff. I just came alive. It was like finally I found out how to talk. I didn't talk a lot as a kid. I wasn't a very open person. For me, that's where I came alive and that's where I got angry and I could beat the drums. That's how I released everything. That's also how I got the adults attention which as a kid is huge when an adult gives you some time. So it's really what I've always done and I just live to do that, to get into the studio, play bits and pieces and finally get all of the sounds out of my head and onto a tape. It's just what I love, that bit is my favorite bit.
P.S.: Do you see yourself always wanting to have both hands on every aspect of your music or are there other artists you could see yourself collaborating with?
BUTTERFLY: I really do feel it's important to collaborate. I shared the production with two other producers as well. We all worked together on the whole album at the same time. So we co-produced it which was really important. It took me many years to realize that I do need other people involved because it just gets really lonely. Then you just kind of lay yourself down. It's important to have somebody else giving back to your ideas to go, "No, that's too much or it's boring." I'm also really tough. I strive to be creative and push myself to not be a cliché and constantly from the tiniest little things, I push myself to be new. That's what I try to do. So it's really hard to trust somebody with my music, to put my name on it, it takes a long time to find those people. I think I will eventually stumble across collaborators. Until then, I'm quite happy to keep making music and stretch myself. Definitely in the production sense, as a producer, they can have a lot of influence and really steer me in the direction I intended to go. It's nice, to be honest, to go into a situation and go, 'On this album I really want to try to get back to the old Butterfly with more guitar and a bit rough around the edges.' Because I'll get into the studio and I'll get carried away on a piano thing and then I'll want to put strings on it and they're like, "Hang on. You said you wanted to do a guitar thing." 'Oh yeah, that's right. That's right.' I do need that sometimes. Who knows? This is my debut album and I hope to make a lot more. That's the whole thing. I want to knock it down and get a career started so I can keep on writing and putting out albums. My music may change drastically over fifteen years. I kind of hope it does. Who knows who else will play a part in that? I'm not sure.
P.S.: What do you think would be the ultimate event that could happen to you professionally where you would feel like, 'Okay, I've definitely 'made it.'
BUTTERFLY: You know, it would be weird because as a child the ultimate thing would be winning a Grammy. I think that's for any musician... Well, maybe not. That's a bit general but for me it was anyway. It was seeing them on the television and going, 'I want to do that.' I would like to get there. The funny thing is, the more you delve into it... like I remember the first time I walked up onto a TV studio soundstage. I thought, 'Oh, this is it? This is it? It's just a studio and it's dirty and the walls are dirty.' Then you do the show and you go back to the green room afterwards and they play it back and you're like, 'Wow!' It looks completely different. So the more you get behind the scenes and you do kind of go up in the music industry, you find out all of these things about it. It's just normal. It's not as glitzy as you thought it was. So I don't know. If I ever win a Grammy, I'm sure I would get there and go, (nonchalantly) 'Oh... Okay. This is the Grammys. Right.' (laughs) It always takes so much longer than you think. Everything you set out to do takes longer so by the time you get there I guess you're kind of over it. But I know as a child it was 1) Get on the radio and 2) Get a Grammy.
P.S.: Have you been able to hear yourself on the radio yet?
BUTTERFLY: I have, I have a couple of times now and it's still childishly fun. I'm like, 'Oh, it's me.' Even if I hear my name mentioned on the radio I'm like, 'Oh! How do they know my name? They don't even know me.' It's very strange to hear strangers say your name on the radio.
P.S.: Did you get to see your video on VH1's Top Twenty countdown?
BUTTERFLY: I think they did it as a new flavor. It wasn't actually on the top twenty but I don't have a television so I didn't get to watch it. Hopefully I'll get a video or something. MTV did a really good thing called Advanced Warning. I thought they did a really good job because sometimes they can chop up interviews and you look like an idiot and they didn't get all of the bits where you giggle or something, but I thought they edited it really nicely. I was happy with that one.
How will I get there?
Who will I have to be?
I'm so eager
and I'm so scared
There's so much to see"
Song * They Say You Grow
Album * Scary Fragile
all my hopes of true love
Don't try to tell me
there's no such thing as "the one"
I understand clearly
It doesn't happen
like it happens in the movies
I'm aware, I don't care
I'm a dreamer"
Song * To Feel Love
Album * Scary Fragile
Find a place no one's found
Pick it up and put it down
In the end it doesn't matter
In the end they all go home
I thought about it for a minute
Music's in the kiss we hold"
Song * A Walk Outside
Album * Flutterby