Q&A With Nichole Nordeman
CCMmagazine.com: It doesn't seem possible that Woven and Spun is your third record already. Is your album release day as exciting as it was in the beginning of your career?
Nichole Nordeman: "Yeah, it really is. It's an exciting feeling when you realize that it's actually here. And you go through such a mental journey from 'oh my gosh, I don't think I'm going to be able to write for this record' to 'oh my gosh I wrote three songs, and that feels really good' to pretty soon half the record's done. Then it's like 'oh my gosh, we have all 10 songs. Wow!' And then the pre-release comes out, and you have it in your hot little hands. So by release day it feels really exciting to me. Although once the pre-release was out, it almost feels like it's been out. People are already reviewing it and talking about it, playing the single. So in a few ways, it's a bit anticlimactic, but I always am totally pumped."
CCMmagazine.com: Are you an artist that tends to read her own press after you're interviewed or when your album is reviewed?
Nordeman: "I used to lie and say that 'no, I was way above that.' But yes, absolutely, I read my own press. And sometimes that's a great thing, and sometimes I have to really keep it in check because I've always been a chronic people-pleaser. So I'm very attached like probably a lot of artistic people to what other people think, expect and the assessment of what I've done. So that's a great feeling sometimes. But if the feedback is not positive, it can be pretty upsetting to you. So I try to be fairly balanced in how much I read."
CCMmagazine.com: On the new album, you branched out about from a production standpoint with the addition of Charlie Peacock. Did he give you any helpful advice that may have affected the final outcome of the project?
Nordeman: "He didn't have any advice that he was really forthcoming about. Charlie is just such an artist himself that getting to know who he is figures in as much a part of the process as creating songs with him. It's not like you have a lunch meeting and he's like 'hi, how are you, and let's jump in.' I identify with him a lot personality-wise because contrary to popular belief, I tend to think of myself as an introvert. I don't make a lot of small talk unless it's necessary. So in terms of just connecting personally in the studio and just hanging out, we really hit it off because I think we're a lot alike. But probably the way he influenced my growth the most was just by really teaching me how to let go and trust. I don't think I was really in touch with how much of a control freak I am until I worked with Charlie because he was just constantly saying with that little Charlie smile 'Just trust me. It's going to be great, just let go a little bit.' Slowly releasing the grip of my fingers on the songs, I learned to let him do what he's gifted to do. So I'm glad he's a part of it."
CCMmagazine.com: When people talk about Woven and Spun, they often refer to it as "Nichole's happy record." Are you tired of hearing that statement already?
Nordeman: "No, I'm not. I think that's a funny thing to say. But it's definitely true because it's coming from a place where I'm at in my life personally and spiritually. There's a lot more joy, and it's lighter and more hopeful. And that's where I am, so that makes sense. But I did wrestle with it a little, and that hearkens back to the people-pleasing issues. I really struggled with 'are people going to be okay with that?' since I'd earned the reputation somewhat of the introspective thinking artist who asks the deep dark questions of life. I get that a lot, and that's not a label I'm unhappy about. I appreciate that people have taken that stuff seriously. But I did struggle through 'man, what happened to Nordeman. Did she swallow some shallow pills? Where did she go on the record? It's not deep enough. It can't be a Nichole Nordeman record, it's too happy.' I don't know if people are saying that, but I feel released from that anxiety. Because I knew it's the record I wanted to make. I feel it's the record God gave me to make. So it's quite possible that it might not connect with people who connected with my other stuff, and that has to be okay at the end of the day."
CCMmagazine.com: On the new disc, you cover some really ambitious material when you remake Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes." After all, it's PETER GABRIEL. Were you intimidated by this recording at all?
Nordeman: "Incredibly. I am just a huge Peter Gabriel fan, and like a lot of other people, that song is practically sacred with all the impact that it's had. Yeah, there were a couple of times midstream where I was inclined to go 'Nope, not gonna do it. If it can't be done really well, I would rather not do it than do a halfway job.' And that was once again part of Charlie's lesson in letting go and trusting that it's going to be great. In the end, I feel like the way he approached and shaped the song is so beautiful. And truly, I'm not a big fan of covering stuff. I did one on the last record and this one. But my philosophy has always been: either do it way better which is not an option when we're talking about Stevie Wonder or Peter Gabriel. Or do it way different. It just can't sound anything like the original in order to sort of pass my criteria. So we just went for really different. I'm happy with it."
CCMmagazine.com: You recently made the transition from living in Nashville to Dallas. Tell us what the best things are to do in your new city home.
Nordeman: "Well to be really shallow, the food is pretty amazing. There is no shortage of really incredible places to eat, and being a lover of food, that's a really great thing for me. Not to knock Nashville, but you have to kind of look for chain restaurants in Dallas. My husband and I live downtown in an apartment loft building. It's a very urban area, we don't feel like moving to the suburbs yet. But without kids, we thought 'we don't really want to buy a house. Let's just live in the city.' And this way, we can just walk to a dozen of our favorite hangs, have a cup of coffee, go shopping or see an art film. It's just so young 30-something people, so we love it."
CCMmagazine.com: On a totally unrelated note, what inspired the title of your new CD?
Nordeman: "It's actually a line from one of my songs called 'I Am.' And it's a reference to the Psalm where it talks about being woven and knit together in our mother's womb before we were born and how He knew us even then. It's sort of my slant on that verse only I just liked the way woven and spun sounded in that song. Boy that was a big wrestling match of what we were going to call the record because normally a title just jumps out at you in my experience. It's usually also a song title. So Wide Eyed was obvious. It so spoke about what the songs were saying and the big picture in a sense. And This Mystery I don't think we even had to vote. Nobody was questioning that. It just felt like the right title. For this one, it took months. Everyone from management to the label to booking had an opinion, and none of them were the same. It was really a challenge. Actually a friend of mine Jill and I were sitting with all the lyrics sheets one night, going line by line, trying to find something that really represented the record, and she was the one who found it and said 'how about Woven and Spun? And everyone in the room said 'Yeah!' and that was it!"
CCMmagazine.com: Being newly married, what is the most surprising thing you've discovered about being married?
Nordeman: "I don't [know] why this is surprising, it certainly shouldn't have been. But I was really surprised because I went into it thinking 'I am going to learn so much more about this person I'm marrying.' I thought especially the first year because they tell you the levels of knowing your spouse will change so much even in just six months. But truthfully, I just found out way more about myself than I needed to know. I mean really good stuff, but hard stuff that when you're single you just don't have the perspective on. Your spouse really becomes a mirror in a lot of ways. You find yourself watching how you respond in certain situations. I always considered myself to be a really patient person, a really gracious person, but it's been a lot of personal work just kind of 'I've got to work on that. I had no idea I was this selfish.' I don't say that from any kind of place of false humility. I genuinely made those discoveries. Wow, I really thought I was a good person of compromise, and that I was really fair and a good listener. And all of the sudden you realize in the place of conflict especially that you've got a long way to go."
By Christa Farris