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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. Book coming soon!
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Stacking The Deck with Car Astor
Friday, March 06, 2020

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.

If you listen to just one Car Astor song, you’ll have a radically incomplete picture of the artist. Heck, if you listen to five, or even ten, Car Astor songs you’ll still only hear a portion of the NYC-based indie artist’s capabilities.

Refusing to be defined by any one genre, just when you think you know where Car Astor is going with her music, she makes a radical turn, continually proving herself to be one of the most unpredictable, and musically diverse, artists around. Think she’s an electro-pop artist? She’ll make a blistering rock song. Think she’s a rock artist? She’ll release an acoustic folk tune.


I caught up with Car Astor before her recent show at Mercury Lounge to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about being influenced by everyone from John Bonham to Avril Lavigne, performing on unique NYC bills, and not being afraid to stand up for oneself.



Led Zeppelin

My parents are massive music lovers. It’s playing in my house 24/7, which is so cool.

We have a couple of Led Zeppelin records hanging on this one wall in my house, and my dad would always, when I was growing up, show me videos of them playing.

It was a very immersive thing. We’d read books on them, and we’d talk about it.

I think one of the first gigs I played, this is when I was a drummer, I played a couple of Zeppelin songs.

As a drummer … Zeppelin, Bonham.

Yeah, that was a big thing, because when I started playing the drums my dad was like, “You have to understand who this is,” so I think that definitely was a big part of my life.

And at the same time, good luck emulating this!

Oh yeah. {laughs}

I was like 15, and he was like, “Play this.”

Did you start with the drums?

Yes.

Were there any other drummers you looked to at that point in time?

There’s this one guy, Darren King, who was in the band Mutemath, and he was my favorite drummer for a really long time.

I grew up listening to Paramore, too, so I feel like Zac Farro is a big influence.

It’s interesting, you went from being a drummer to a singer – you basically went the Dave Grohl route.

Yeah, I did.

So are you a female Dave Grohl?

I would like to be.

I always said maybe I should’ve stuck with the drums in a band for a minute, but bands are hard. I tried. It was complicated.



Jimi Hendrix

I pulled Hendrix, because you pulled Zeppelin, and I would love to know about some of the other classic artists you grew up on.

Oooh, I love Blondie. Apart from being musically inspiring … (I like) everything about Debbie Harry.

I’m very influenced by her.

(Also) Jeff Buckley, I don’t know if he’s considered classic, he’s my favorite artist of all-time, and Radiohead.

Blondie, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Zeppelin, that’s a really diverse array of artists, which makes sense because all the singles you’ve released have been very different. Do you pride yourself on not necessarily sticking with one particular sound?

I am so not into having an artist having to be in a box.

For me, I think the best thing is being honest, and if I’m feeling like I want to release a song that sounds like this, because that’s what coming out of me, I don’t feel like I should hide that.

I’m about to put out an almost folk-y acoustic record, which you wouldn’t expect, but it’s actually maybe the most “me” thing I’ve ever done, and whatever I put out after will probably be even more “me.” It’s interesting.



Law and Order

This is one I chose. I’ll admit I know nothing about Law and Order, the band or the TV show, but on the back of the card it says these guys are from New York City. You mentioned Blondie, another NYC band. What does it mean to you to be an artist in New York City, this mecca of music where pretty much every genre gets performed?

It’s just taught me so much the past couple of years.

I think there’s so many talented people here, and so many people working, and so much diversity. I play shows all the time where there’s me, and then a country artist, or a rap artist. There’s like every type of person you can find here in New York, and it’s so special, and I really like being influenced by a bunch of different things.

Do you especially enjoy being on a bill where you are completely different from all the other artists?

I don’t know. That’s an interesting question, because I think it is better to have a bill where there is some cohesion, because then people will enjoy that show as a whole more, but I think by default when you’re playing smaller venues in New York it can get really random, but it’s so much fun.

I grew up on Long Island, and when I was playing drums for some bands, I was in what I would say is more like an indie rock band, we’d be playing shows with hardcore people all the time, but I think it’s good.



Taylor Dane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Martika

I put these three together because they all involve strong women in music, and you’re on a bill tonight that’s all women. I’m going to go with another “what does it mean to you” question here – what does it mean to you to be a strong woman in music, and who do you draw influence from, and potentially guidance from in terms of artists you look to and say, “Hey, they did this, I can do this”?

I would say my top three would be Avril Lavigne when I was little, Hayley Williams, and Gwen Stefani.

Very classic for my age, I guess you could say.

You also mentioned earlier that you don’t like artists having to be in a box. No Doubt’s first single, “Trapped in a Box.”

Ooooh! Sick!

I think all of them … I mean Avril, when I was little, was definitely weird. I feel like she was just not like a total girly girl at all, and neither am I, so I looked at her and I was like oh, here’s someone who kind of feels like me – a little bit like one of the boys, playing rock music, with the baggy jeans – and I think that was very cool for me to see, so I really admired her for a while. The same with Hayley, I think she was like wacky, and like the best performer, and Gwen, they’re both different, but similar in their own right.

But being a woman … sorry, I’m rambling right now … I was talking with some other artists recently about (how) I feel like now we live in a period where things are pretty good, comparatively, to what they used to be, but I am in sessions every day with songwriters, and producers, and I genuinely feel, I’m realizing this recently, I’m just not respected as much as a guy when I’m talking about a producing decision, or a decision with a music video.

I see people that I’m working with, and when they’re working with guys, like a guy artist, or a guy writer, they’re like, “Yo, this is sick. This is so great,” and then I’m there, and they’re like, “I don’t know if this is good enough. We need other people in here.”

That’s also more people who suddenly have to get paid.

Yeah, and I don’t think there’s a difference in talent, I just think it’s a respect thing.

I’m not blaming anyone, because I think we all grow up in a certain environment that made everything the way it is, but it’s definitely tough. I’ve experienced a lot of being called a bitch by people, all the time, in the industry. Always I’m too picky, I have too many opinions.

But in the end it’s your music, and it’s your career.

Yeah, right? Not to complain, but it’s like wow, it’s my career, you would think that I should have an opinion.

It’s a very interesting thing, and I hope that it just continues to get better.

Looking at the cards, Big Brother and the Holding Company … when I think of Janis Joplin I think of someone who probably didn’t take a lot of shit in her day.

Yeah, not at all.

I’m guessing you’re someone who probably doesn’t take a lot of shit either.

No. I stand up for myself, which is good, but people don’t like that.


For more Car Astor, check out carastor.com, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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