I am my very own planet
my own little version of the Earth
I can revolve and revolve and revolve and revolve
without even having to work…
Like one of her biggest creative influences (Bjork), Abby Payne seems to make her own little world with every song, every album, and every music video. Sometimes, as with her new concept album, The Gunfighter Meets His Match (which is forthcoming this year along with a short story of the same title, and is inspired by Louis L’Amour’s frontier stories), this is an explicitly aesthetic representation of content. But just as often, Payne’s creation of a world entails nothing more—and nothing less—than a total, authentic commitment to the peculiar and magical universe that is a great song. And her songs are great: reminiscent of Fiona Apple, they feature interesting and sometimes intricate orchestration, but never at the expense of the pure and visceral immediacy of unaffected lyrics, a smoky, warm voice, and a refreshing earnestness that harkens back to the era of the Great American Songbook.
Payne grew up in a musical family on a dairy farm in upstate New York. She studied jazz singing at SUNY Purchase College, where she also began performing her original music (her very first performance of an original song was at a “Women Out Loud” event), and working with a band comprised of rock and jazz musicians. Her background, education, and experiences have informed her musical perspective: rural and cosmopolitan, country and jazz, pop and rock, Patsy Cline meets Billy Holiday, Tori Amos meets Adele.
In addition to the upcoming The Gunfigher Meets His Match, Abby Payne has released two full-length albums (About a Cake and In a Pretty Box) and an EP (Sasquatch). Payne is also known for being the creator and star of several ambitious music videos. Payne is responsible for imagining and designing the concepts for these visually interesting mini-movies (which run the gamut from a playful tribute to Dirty Dancing in “Lost and Found,” to a moody nod to Andy Warhol “superstar” Edie Sedgwick in “The Prophet,” to the fun and campy, but cool “Vampire Song”), but has also benefitted greatly from her frequent collaborations with photographer Elizabeth Leitzell and Glitter Kitty productions, an audacious alternative dance troupe.
Abby Payne’s creative collaborations were also at the heart of her founding of The Round Table, a female art collective that has hosted events highlighting the work of women artists on the New York scene, and which is currently working on a musical adaptation of Payne’s The Gunfighter Meets His Match. You can add that to the impressive list of creative iterations that Payne is dedicated to exploring with her new album.
Payne plays regular live shows in venues around New York City, including Rockwood Music Hall, Caffe Vivaldi, and the Living Room, with her band, which features Wil Farr (Hurrah! A Bolt of Light!) on guitar and vocals (he also produced Payne’s last two albums), JP Schlegelmilch (NOOK, Old Time Musketry) on keys, Chris Anderson (Whiskey Heart) on bass and vocals, and Kenny Shaw (Dispatch, Hurrah! A Bolt of Light!) on drums.