Prolific indie icon Ani DiFranco releases her twenty-second album, Righteous Love, this Friday (January 29). It was an album completed under unusual circumstances, in North Carolina during COVID DiFranco tells me on this week’s People Have The Power podcast.
” I had been talking with Brad Cook who lives in Durham, NC. [He] is sort of one of the Bon Iver sphere, crew, extended family that I met when I was out there in Wisconsin at the Iver fest last weekend, last year,” she says, “And Brad and I talked about working together so I was talking with him, saying, ‘How am I going to do this?’ And he said, ‘Come to North Carolina for six days. If you get on a plane, I’ll put the band together and we’ll make a record.’ So that’s what I did. I put on my little mask and went to Brad’s house. And he put the band together of his compadres who are hiding out in there in the woods around Durham. And they all crept out of the woods in their masks. And we recorded for actually five days, made the record.”
On the absolutely compelling and wide-ranging interview, DiFranco takes me through the making of the new album, her incredible catalog, her favorite New Orleans food and much more, including her choice of protest songs from the likes of Brittany Howard , Anais Mitchell and Lizzo,
“What is wrong with Lizzo? Nothing, absolutely nothing. She’s so epic, in every way,” DiFranco says of why she chose “Tempo,” by Lizzo. “Lizzo and Missy Elliot, forget about it. We can all die happy. The song is just – that energy pushing back against patriarchy, pushing back – slamming down body shaming, whatever, somebody’s idea of pretty or whatever. It’s so above all that. So sassy, slays all of that. It’s really, really liberating, as her voice is every time she opens her mouth.”
DiFranco also credits her 13-year-old daughter with tipping her off to Billie Eilish well before Eilish became a Grammy-winning superstar. “I have a 13-year-old daughter and she has been listening to Billie Eilish before any of you all. I was hip to Billie Eilish before she hit the radar and she has been listening to her ever since,” DiFranco says.
She also talks about why the likes of Eilish give her hope for feminism in the coming years. “I love the way she carries herself. I think she is incredibly self-possessed for as young as she is. She is riding this crazy roller coaster but she is doing it so gracefully,” DiFranco says. “For a freaking teenager it’s astounding. And she’s just obviously such a smart, self-possessed young gal. I just really respect her. There are many, many, many. I think the 21st century is gonna be aight (alright). We’re gonna be aight because I think that the experiences of women are seen and acknowledged by men on a scope that is unprecedented.”
For more of DiFranco tune into the nearly hour-long conversation on People Have The Power.