chickfactor: do you have a day job?
anna: yeah, I have a variety of things that I do. I have a part-time job in soho, I work with this guy who’s a developmental psychologist who does a lot of work with kids. stuff for nickelodeon, teletubbies, sesame workshop, kids media. he did a big study for the board of ed on the effects of sept 11 on nyc schoolchildren. basically I do a bunch of crap for him.
cf: did it bum them out?
anna: they’re taking it pretty good. it seems to not be having much of an effect. so everyone’s really happy about that. I’m his assistant, which is good because I also go to graduate school for kid stuff, like education, so it’s somewhat relevant to things I’m interested in.
cf: what do you want to do when you finish graduate school?
anna: I have no idea!! [laughs]
cf: what about music stuff with kids?
anna: yeah, I definitely might want to. I’m going to do an independent study — I’m going to be teaching kindergarten or first grade in the fall in brooklyn heights. I’m going to be assistant teaching cause I don’t want to be a full teacher while I’m in school and playing music cause I’ll go insane. I’m going to do this independent study about kids and music. I might do something with getting them to write, separate from music, and somehow have them make their own music and put it together, I don’t know.
cf: my older brother has a home studio and my niece who’s 8 has been writing songs for years. she writes the lyrics and chooses the beats. she writes happy mothers day songs.
anna: that’s what I want to do… I just don’t know how to get someone else to write a song. I worked with third graders before and some of them would have really been into it and others would have been, it would have been a total joke. which could be funny too. kindergarten and first grade might take it more seriously.
cf: you could get them to take a song they like and rewrite the words.
anna: yeah. I feel like their writing would really lend itself to that. so other than that, I don’t know what I want to do. I probably want to leave new york, don’t know where I’m going to go.
anna: too stressful here, too nervous. whenever I leave here in a car and I’m driving east to come back here, the roads get tighter and tighter and the cars go faster and faster, and I feel like I’m going to throw up. I like the people here.
cf: what was it like growing up in texas?
anna: in houston. hot, humid. it was all right. I don’t like houston that much. there’s a lot of roaches and mosquitos.
cf: when did you live in l.a.?
anna: I moved back here four or five years ago, so I lived there before that for a couple years.
cf: were you trying to do the acting thing?
anna: well, I was doing some acting here before I went to l.a. and at the time I couldn’t stand new york… I was having a new york freakout. I couldn’t stand the cold, every time it was winter I’d be complaining incessantly. I thought moving to l.a. might solve my problems but it turned out it made them much worse. I had a very bad time in l.a.
cf: you were in this movie called incredibly true adventures of two girls in love and you were really good…
anna: oh, thank you! how did you end up seeing that?
cf: everyone saw it, right? I think lois and georgia were on the soundtrack. have you been in other stuff?
anna: I did some plays in new york. most of the stuff I did that was interesting was in new york. when I went to l.a., I just did a bunch of really stupid shit. if I really cared about acting, I would have stayed here because I knew more people that were doing more interesting things but I couldn’t stand new york anymore. the only other movie that you can rent that I have a part in is called star maps. I have a small part in that. I played a nanny. I did a few short films. I never aspired to be an actress. when I was in college, someone asked me to be in their student film.
cf: are you over acting now?
anna: writing songs is more fun. it’s immeasurably more fun. I have a good friend who’s a screenwriter named mike white and if they happen to be shooting a movie where I was and there was a little part I would do it for fun but I don’t want to audition. takes up too much time.
cf: how did you and cynthia meet?
anna: we first met at wesleyan when we went to school but we weren’t really friends then. we became friends working at two boots, which is the longest job I ever had. we both moved away at the same time. I had no desire to write songs then, but we wrote a lot of letters. we both moved back to ny at the same time, so I think that increased our friendship.
cf: tell us a funny story about her.
anna: cynthia’s obsessed with tea tree oil toothpicks. I’m not good at thinking up things like that. like what’s your favorite movie, I have no idea.
cf: what’s in your fridge?
anna: this is a good question for me cause I’m really into food. I’m obsessed with yogurt…
cf: the greek kind?
anna: no, stonyfield plain. I get some raspberries, I put them in a pot, put some stevia in them, it’s this herb from south america that’s really sweet. then I mix it up. today I made vanilla yogurt. I’m also obsessed with pepper jack soy cheese slices that you put on a ricecake. orange juice. I don’t have a lot of food in my fridge, I haven’t gone to the store since I got back from tour.
cf: where did you go?
anna: we went to louisville first. we made a circle. back to louisville. that’s where I was.
cf: was it smooth sailing?
anna: no, cynthia was insanely sick the entire time so that may be why I can’t think of any funny stories. it was actually really hard.
cf: it wasn’t that funny.
anna: it wasn’t. I have a funny picture of her lying in the back with a rag on her face. it was bad. turned out she had a kidney infection. there was no a/c in the van, it was like 100° in there, she would sit in the back and lie down. in greensboro one night she had a sleeping bag on her, she was freezing. she was like, ‘is it cold out there?’ I was like, ‘no!’ jeff [cashvan] was with us. he’s practically in the naysayer in spirit in my mind. it was fun to have him come with us. the next day we went to his sister’s house. cynthia got her antibiotics there and laid in bed. we had some crappy shows; like philly we played to one person, that was a new experience.
cf: so much for philly being the hot new place.
anna: richard told me that versus didn’t play there for four years because it was so bad. that made me feel better. I’m not going back there.
cf: did you want to be a singer when you were a little kid?
anna: no, no way. I wanted to be a ballerina. I danced. I went to ballet four times a year in the school year and five times a year in the summer at houston ballet school. I was super into it. my career went to shit because we moved to england when I was in 7th and 8th grade. my stepfather was an opera singer and we had to go there so he could have a contract with the welsh national opera. the ballet where I lived was not good. we lived outside bath in a town called saltford, and we lived in bristol. so my ballet career went to hell. and then I was in middle school and I started partying down and I lost the ballet discipline. then I went to houston and did modern through college and did a lot of performing.
cf: did you hit it off with the english kids?
anna: yeah, I did. I had some friends. I went from being a total goody twoshoes to being a very bad girl. those english girls were really bad and I think they made me much worse than I would have been. but I did, I liked it. I didn’t want to go there, but once I went there, I didn’t want to come back. and when I came back, people thought I had an accent and I felt like a freak.
cf: just like madonna. she’s been faking it since before she moved there. favorite new york bands? the strokes?
anna: I don’t know what they sound like. I really just go see my friends, you know? kendall, karla, cynthia, tara. I don’t check the papers. someone has to tell me about a show.
cf: are there a&r men swarming around williamsburg?
anna: williamsburg is insane. it’s very weird to come back there from the rest of america because everyone there is really fucking hot, really done up, and incredibly cool. it’s embarrassing. I live on bedford avenue, right there, right by the L, so it’s intense. I’m not that into it but I love my apartment. until my landlady kicks me out, I’m not going to live anywhere else in new york. most of my friends live there. I’m sorry I can’t tell you what bands I like.
cf: you and kendall played a carter family song recently at tonic. whose idea was that?
anna: kendall and jeff’s idea. we learned that for country bingo nite. me and kendall and phoebe played like 5 songs. I’m hoping that we might make an ep together and put that on there.
cf: do you like lots of old music? country?
anna: my boyfriend is obsessed with country music and he DJs country at enid’s. he did some DJing at that brooklyn free music fest. I’ve learned a lot from him. I didn’t know before that country music was so funny.
cf: whose lyrics do you like?
anna: I get excited about joni mitchell and bob dylan’s lyrics. cynthia went on tour with papa m, and that caused me to pay attention to papa m, and I like that a lot.
cf: do you collect anything?
anna: shoes. I have racks of shoes in my house, in the kitchen, on display.
cf: do you only wear new or do you rotate?
anna: I rotate. I used to have a problem, I’d be totally broke and I’d go buy a $200 pair of shoes, charge it on my credit card, which is one of the primary reasons I declared bankruptcy in my 20s when I lived in l.a. l.a. was rough. too many shoes can fuck you up. it’s embarrassing.
cf: here’s a gig etiquette question: you’re on tour and you’re opening for yo la tengo. they have a spread of deli snacks and good liquor, but they’re not around. do you partake?
anna: hell yeah. why wouldn’t I? I’m obsessed with cheese. I wouldn’t devour the whole thing so they’d have nothing when they came back.
cf: is it hard to get a decent meal on tour?
anna: yeah, you eat a lot of really bad food on tour. I had some problems with my stomach, but it’s also cause I was drinking a lot and smoking.
cf: you don’t do that at home?
anna: I don’t drink every night when I’m home but it’s hard to be in clubs every night and not drink in my opinion.
cf: is there a boy singer you want to sing with?
anna: well, I covered a song by terry allen. it would be fun to sing a song with him. I love his song that I play; I really feel like I wrote it.
cf: what was the first song you ever wrote?
anna: that was in l.a. and as I said, that was a hellish time for me. I wasn’t working and I was depressed basically. having some problems. I had this boyfriend at the time who had some problems too and we would sit around and — he played guitar — and he would play guitar and I would make up lyrics. does that count? that’s how I started writing songs. I wrote two songs that way and we broke up, and I wanted to play those songs. so I had to figure out how to play those songs that I made up. the song was “topanga” and it’s about dumping someone and getting a house in topanga and living with a horse and a goat and some chickens. I didn’t mean to be writing it about him but then it kind of seemed like that’s what was happening.
cf: so you wrote a song with him about him? “honey, I’m going to dump you…”
anna: “sorry to tell you this way…” he was like, “is that about me?” and I was like, “no, not really, but maybe.” I really like that song.
cf: what was your first concert?
anna: the first concert I remember seeing was prince. I saw him in high school.
cf: purple rain tour?
anna: yeah. I was obsessed with prince. I still am.
cf: favorite prince song?
anna: what comes into my head is “dorothy parker” or “pink cashmere” but I like so many.
cf: he’s on a no-cussing kick.
anna: is that what he’s doing?
cf: he can’t play “erotic city” and many other songs.
anna: is he really religious now?
anna: where do you get these questions?
cf: some of these are standard cf. fridge, collecting, etc.
anna: you ask everybody those questions?
cf: yeah. almost everybody.
anna: I like the fridge question. I want to make a web page that’s all about my favorite foods. most of the page would have been about veggie booty about 4 months ago, but then I got disillusioned with veggie booty and I don’t even care about it anymore. I wrote them a letter.
cf: you know what I like are those really salty potato fliers.
anna: my favorite thing. that’s what I moved on to. I love those.
cf: can you cook?
anna: I can cook some. I’m not a genius.
cf: what’s your specialty?
anna: I go through phases. my most recent phase was about brunch. we’d have people over and I’d make this cheesy spicy polenta dish and blueberry buckwheat pancakes and um, something else, boca sausage.
cf: have you had the boca pizza? it’s good.
anna: I started eating meat. shit, I’m freaking out. I like to cook vegetables. I like to sauté some spinach, asparagus, I like to make broccoli and red peppers and garlic and sesame oil and cayenne. that’s great.
cf: what’s the worst job you’ve had?
anna: world yacht. you know those boats that go around new york city? really bad job.
cf: disco boats?
anna: it was like cheesy supposedly fancy dinner boats. really mean people. I made pretty good money but everyone was an asshole. I would mess things up. I got in trouble — the manager was strict and you weren’t allowed to eat anything. say you’re really bored and there’s a tray of hors d’oeuvres that no one’s going to eat, you’re not allowed to have that. one time I ate a potato off a tray and someone saw me and wrote me up. I had to go to the office the next day, and this woman was like “so, I heard you ate a piece of shrimp on your shift.” and she handed me this piece of paper that said “anna padgett ate a piece of shrimp on her shift.” I was stunned. I was like, “actually it was a potato.” I had to sign a piece of paper saying I wasn’t going to eat any more on my shift.
cf: you had to write it on the blackboard 100 times. “I will not eat a potato.”
anna: it was really bad.
cf: what do you like to read?
anna: I go though phases. I went though a faulkner phase for a while. went though a japanese fiction phase. I read about buddhism.
cf: have you ever been arrested?
cf: have you ever been suspended?
anna: I got suspended in england. my parents went out of the country a lot. I would sneak off campus and drink gin and smoke cigarettes and go over to the boys school and I got caught and was put in solitary confinement. I wasn’t allowed to go to class. had to eat by myself.
cf: who you have a crush on?
anna: I used to have a crush on cary grant. I used to love cary grant. cf