How country is Faith Boblett? She discusses cursed blog posts, ancient YouTube videos, and her undying love for Shania Twain
Flip Rushmore and Faith Boblett are both local artists on the Minneapolis-St. Paul music scene. Serving as Flip's reporter on assignment, Alex called Faith to ask hard-hitting questions about her work as a dental hygienist. She answered those, but it turns out there are few direct parallels between dental hygiene and songwriting, so we'll skip ahead to more topical fare.
Alex: It’s been awhile now, but you *had* been keeping up a blog. Pre-COVID. Your last post was almost a document from just before the Dark Ages. You wrote that you’d had a “really stressful 2019” and you were like, “2020, please be kind to me.” Uhh ... Did you make it out OK?
Faith: God. I remember writing that. It was 2019 New Year’s Eve at my parents house. Just chilling with him. It was kind of a sassy “fuck off 2019” and “2020’s gonna be my year.” All in all, I made it out OK. I got done with (dental hygienist) school and I was able to transition into a dental hygiene role at the office I was working in.
Not to say that it didn’t have its horrible moments. Of course it did. But I’m really a privileged human being, and I’m grateful that my loved ones stayed safe and I was able to stay safe while working in the dental profession, because that’s a little more high-risk of a job. I got to play a couple shows outdoors. All in all, I’m grateful for the good things that have happened. And I’m happy that the bad things are in the past.
Alex: There were a lot of bands and artists who were riding some strong momentum coming into last year. People with entire tours lined up. Album cycles. All that. On a local level, I’d place you in that basket. You were riding on a high professionally—at least from the outside looking in—and you had a new album lined up (Take Care, which came out in October). Did you delay that at all? How did COVID affect some of your business decisions?
Faith: Let me preface this by saying that the music business side of things is my least favorite part of being a creative type. The industry has changed so much, even since I started playing more than 10 years ago. Streaming services and how artists make money. I could go on about that forever.
I struggled with business decisions *outside* of the pandemic [laughs] so it was kind of like, “I don’t know what to do.” But in regards to (Take Care), I had written most of that in 2018 when I was releasing my second album, so I was really ready to just let it go and just put it into the universe. To tell you the truth, with music business decisions over the course of my quote-unquote career, it’s been moreso like, I throw caution to the wind … there’s definitely *some* calculation, but at the same time, I’ll be like, “November is when I want to put this record out. So I’ll do a single in September and October and let’s hope things go well.”
Take Care was about a breakup from 3 and a half years ago now. I’m over that. I didn’t want to hold on to these angry songs that I’m not even mad about anymore.
Alex: I think the pandemic underscored how incredibly complicated the business side has gotten … it just feels exhausting trying to figure out … not only what you should be doing, but weighing that option against five other options. A lot of the simplicity seems to have evaporated, and maybe it’s better to not care and do what you want. Honestly, some of the artists who do that end up getting big anyway because people tap into that energy.
Faith: You hit the nail on the head with that. Do I want my music to be successful and reach people? Yeah, of course. That is always a goal. But the thing that I’ve said for the past few years is, if I can sit down in my bedroom with a guitar and write a song and be proud of it, that’s why I do it. I just love writing music. If somebody hears it, awesome. And if it means something to someone, even better. Maybe it makes somebody run a little faster or getting a little mad at their ex or whatever. Fun. That’s great! I love it. But I’m not out here calculating, like you said. It’s not the Zach Galifianakis .gif with the numbers all around him. "What do I need to do to make it?" At that point, you’ve lost. What’s the point? Are you doing it to be famous or cool, or are you doing it because you love it? That’s how I see it. Maybe that’s weird.
Alex: I’m sure everyone would love to pay the bills with music. And it’s part of the equation for everyone … you know, “I don’t love the business side, but if I can somehow figure out an angle financially”—especially for a solo artist, where you have fewer mouths to feed, or whatever—I can see the motivation there. But, you’re right, if the only reason you’re making music is to make money … first of all: terrible decision. But then beyond that, if you *need* to make money on music to survive, the number of people you know personally who can do that, you can count those people on, like, two hands, maybe.
But, I don’t want to belabor this [dies internally at how long he’s been monologuing] … Let’s dissect genre for a minute. You put out a Shania cover last month. You’ve done some country tribute shows before. And I can definitely hear some country elements in your music. A little bit on the Enough album. A slight country western tinge to some of it. And then the opening track of Take Care has a hint of it. “I Don’t Want to Get Arrested” has that outlaw Carrie Underwood feel to it. The main question I have is: How country is Faith Boblett?
Faith: [laughs] That’s so funny because when I first started writing music when I was 13, people would say, “You have such a great voice for country.” And I would literally be like, “Fuck you. Never say that to me again.” I was like, no way. I was in Northern Minnesota. That was what was on the radio. I was very against it. “No, no, no. I’m not country.” But I think I’m leaning in a little more these days. Shania Twain was probably my first CD as a kid. It definitely influenced and taught me in some ways how to sing. I never had vocal lessons. I’d just sing along to the radio, like most people do. Shania was pretty influential, though I didn’t quite realize it until the last couple years. Sheryl Crow is a huge influence and idol of mine. How country am I? Somebody should tell me, cuz I guess I don’t really know. [laughs]. A little bit?
Alex: With the cover coming out, I was wondering if you might be in for a total shift in direction moving forward … What kind of music *are* you writing right now?
Faith: I haven’t been writing as much as I want to be. I’ve had a lot of changes. Moving. New job. All the excuses. But the last few songs I’ve written are a little more towards the style of Enough. A little sadder. A little slower. But definitely more politically charged than previous records. Those were kinda breakup records, and we’ve been living in an insane version of reality for the last 12 months especially, but you could extend that back to 2016 and beyond. So things are a little more politically charged in terms of lyrical content. Right now, it’s only me and my guitar, so as far as style, we’ll see what happens when I bring it to the band.
Alex: If you’re writing politically charged music, do you take the approach of being very subtle and symbolic, or is it more like, “This is exactly what I’m saying. Listen to me.”
Faith: I think a little bit of both. I always try to write songs that can mean something to everybody. If somebody hears a breakup song or a song about their mom, they can say, “that reminds me of this…”—so maybe more subtle. But when I was moving, I found a songbook from when I was around 14 or 15. And it called, like “Dear Mr. President” and it has a line about, “your pants are on fire.” This whole thing. And I’m like, jeez, who did I think I was? So (this time) a little more subtle. Not subliminal. You’ll know it’s in there, but maybe not in your face. I save my t-shirts for that at the show.
Alex: I’m doing some mental math. This woulda been W. Bush era?
Alex: And no one thought there’d ever be another man that would inspire more songs than him?
Alex: The thing about political music is that a lot of people don’t want to touch it. They don’t want to turn people off, or they just don’t know what to say. They might feel really strongly, but some people translate that to lyrics, and some people don’t. Most of Flip Rushmore’s new music this year is pretty influenced by politics. Some of it’s subtle. Some of it’s not. But I always find it interesting to talk to people who include politics in music. Because, yeah, it’s been done. It’s cliche. But there aren’t *a lot* of artists who actually make those songs happen. It sounds like you’ve been at least working on those types of songs for the better part of your life.
Faith: I guess. It’s so funny. I found that. And I remembered it. But I hadn’t thought about it twice in years. But something you said about writing like that … an artist feeling like they don’t know what to say. “I’m not gonna touch it.” I’ve got a new song where it’s like, “I have no words. This is insane. What the fuck is going on?” Basically. Even if you can’t touch it because it’s so fucked up and crazy, that’s something in itself, in my opinion.
Alex: There was something kinda funny I noticed—now that the topic of old songs has come up—I went to your YouTube channel…
Faith: Oh, god.
Alex: ...and you’ve got singer-songwriter videos from 12 years ago.
Faith: Are they visible right now??
Alex: To me!
Faith: Oh, Jesus. [laughs]
Alex: Naturally, I watched them. And they were really good. They were! My first thought was, no artists still have videos from 12 years ago on their page. Usually, you’re too mortified.
Faith: I am right now [laughs]
Alex: Everybody gets embarrassed about things they put out 2 years ago, let alone 12. But you’ve almost got these little yearbooks going across your YouTube channel page. A song from 12 years ago. Eleven years. Ten years. Etc.
Faith: Well, there’s definitely videos that I took down. For sure. To be honest. They were too mortifying. But I didn’t know that I had some that were that old (visible). I have a lot that are uploaded, but they’re hidden … I’m gonna need to take a look at that. That’s intense. [laughs]
Alex: You should leave them up! People can easily connect to it, put themselves in your shoes. It gives the appearance that … you have not deleted any videos…
Alex: ...so maybe that’s a strategy. “This is everything I’ve ever done. This is me at my rawest.”
Faith: I agree with you, because there’s something about this day and age that’s so curated about all of us. We put the best version of ourselves on social media. And it’s so fake. It’s such bullshit. So if there’s a little bit of realness from 12 years ago when I had no filter and I would talk for 3 minutes before I started playing a song, I guess that’s OK!
Alex: Are you the type of person that will tweet things and then delete them 2 minutes later?
Faith: Normally not, but sometimes. I really do treat Twitter as my diary. If you’re following me, you’re just reading it, so sorry about it. Or if I realize I have a typo, I’ll delete it. But rarely will I take something down.
Alex: The typo deletion is kosher. I’m talking about, you put something up for 5 minutes, no one likes it, and you’re like uhhhhhhhhh “delete.”
Faith: Oh, god. If I deleted every tweet that had no likes, I would not have many tweets. [laughs]
Alex: Alright, so 2021. What’s on your radar, career-wise? Do you have any type of schedule in your head?
Faith: Everybody’s been booking like crazy, and it seems like it happened in 3 days. It feels like I was off the internet for 48 hours and all of a sudden everyone’s playing every show. I’m a little scared that there’s nothing left for the lowly dental hygienist singer-songwriter. But I have *a* show booked in Cross Lake, an outdoors thing up north. Trying to work out another show at the Alley at Loring Park, where we did a couple last fall. And then hoping to pick up maybe a couple support gigs. Outdoor stuff. But not any huge plans. Hoping to maybe get back into the studio this fall and recording another EP or potentially an album. We’ll see how much music comes out. It’s pretty loose at this point, but if that changes, and I book new stuff, I’m very annoying on social media, so people will hear about it.
Alex: We talked about your last pre-COVID document on New Year’s 2020. It didn’t end up going so well. But is there anything you’d like to curse us with this year that will age poorly?
Faith: So, here’s thing, real quick, before I say something that ages poorly or doesn’t age poorly. Right before COVID, I turned 29, and I was like, “You know what, you guys, I’m ready for 30. As far as I’m concerned, I’m skipping 29.” And then I did. I’m now 30.
Maybe this will age poorly or maybe it won’t: I’m just really hoping I don’t skip 30. I want to play shows and see people and have everybody be safe. I guess that can’t age poorly; that’s just the truth.
Alex: You can probably get away with throwing yourself a really late 30th birthday party.
Faith: Yeah! Maybe a half-birthday in September somewhere outside with a bunch of bands.
Alex: People will say, “Wasn’t your birthday 6 months ago?”
Faith: I’ll literally tell them to shut the fuck up. “Nope. I’m 30 starting now. I’m a Virgo now.”