STRIPPING BACK THE LAYERS
Lindi Ortega has had a year of quantum change in her personal and professional life. Ahead of her current Australian tour she talked with Chris Familton about those important events and the reasons behind them.
To the casual observer, one might see Lindi Ortega’s recently released EP, Til The Goin’ Gets Gone, as yet another strong entry in her growing discography. Dig below the surface of the songs and their sparse and intimate presentation and it’s clear that there is some heavy contemplation and turmoil at play. As it turns out, the EP is the signpost at an important crossroads moment for Ortega.
“It got to the point where I went to go and pay my rent one time and there was no money in my bank account,” Ortega bravely reveals. “I was at a moment where I was feeling pretty burnt out. I was working really hard and I wasn’t making any money. I’m in my late 30s and as an adult you want to be able to take care of your life and yourself and when you can’t even pay your rent it’s a bit disenchanting and you start to feel like a bit of a failure. I started to question what I was doing and that I’d worked so hard and sacrificed so much… and for what?”
It may sound like a familiar experience, the ups and downs of life and the creep of self-doubt, but for Ortega it led to her balancing on the precipice of giving up the only career she has known. “I really was at that moment where I thought I would give up music. I didn’t know what other job I could get after just doing music for the last 20 years,” she admits.
The good news for her audience is that Ortega realised the non-financial worth of her creativity and made some big changes by figuring out how to re-set and re-direct her career.
“It turned out that I just needed to retool how I was doing my business and I had to go back and read some of the messages from fans about certain songs that connected with people and got them through things. I realised I couldn’t abandon that. That is the crux of why I do music, it’s not really about my own personal success,” she says, selflessly. “I do need to make money to survive but the fact that my music can help someone through a moment in their life – I don’t think there is anything more rewarding than that. I needed to be reminded of that.”
“I left my label, management and agent, I got engaged and left Nashville and moved to Calgary. I had a lot of changes in my life but I feel that even though they were so difficult to do, they’ve all benefited me in such a positive way and I feel so inspired towards the future and excited about new ventures I’m involved with,” Ortega enthuses, before revealing… “I’m in the midst of creating a new album to release next year and I couldn’t be more excited about it and putting it out myself. I like the idea of owning my recordings and music and the challenge of putting it out independently and being my own businesswoman.”
Leaving Nashville, the home of country music, was a big decision but it was exactly the physical move Ortega needed to help re-align the sense of purpose in her art. “I felt I needed to get out of the epicentre of music because I needed some other inspiration. I don’t begrudge Nashville in any way, I had the time of my life when I lived there. I just needed to not be so surrounded by the industry, I needed to escape that whole machine and find outside inspiration. I don’t feel like I need to be living in Nashville to do the thing I do.”