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Gretchen Schmaltz

Q&A with the singer/songwriter

Houston Press: Where can people find you online?

Gretchen Schmaltz: My personal Web site is myspace.com/GretchenSchmaltz.

HP: Where's your hometown?

Schmaltz: Roberts Cove, Louisiana. It's a German farming town, very tiny.

HP: Who do you think you sound like musically?

Schmaltz: I think every artist hates this question, because every artist doesn't want to sound likeanyone else. (Pause) I have been told by people that have seen me play that I might remind them of maybe Patty Griffin. I get that sometimes, but I would hope that I would have kind of a more distinct sound, or in some way write a little bit different because I have different things to say than she might when she writes.

HP: Who do you wish you sounded like?

Schmaltz: Nobody else, really. I think my voice does what it needs to do for what I need to say when I write. I know my voice; I know what to do with it in my songs to communicate what I want.

HP: What album has had a big impact on you?

Schmaltz: The Arcade Fire's Funeral has had a large impact.

HP: Is there a song you wish you had written?

Schmaltz: That's [a] pretty tough one. There's a song called "Bowl of Oranges." That song really speaks a lot to me.

HP: Is there a song you wish no one had written?

Schmaltz: (Laughs heartily) Oh, man, there are so many bad songs. One particularly bad song that I managed to hear on the radio one day...I think it's by some band called the Pussycat Dolls or something. It was something about a girlfriend.

HP: Don't you wish your girlfriend was a freak like me? That's "Don't Cha."

Schmaltz: That might be it. (Laughs) I can't stand that song.

(Interviewer mumbles, "That's one of my most favorite songs ever.")

HP: Going on, what's the best thing about your gig?

Schmaltz: It's fulfilling in several different ways. For one, you get to kind of constantly manage your emotions and that helps you to achieve some balance. You get to document them. It's like you're constantly making a scrapbook of your emotions, and that's kinda cool.

HP: What's the worst thing about your gig?

Schmaltz: All the nonmusic things that you have to do; [that's] the most stressful part of being a musician.

HP: How many people have you picked up using the line, "Hi, I'm a musician?"

Schmaltz: None, actually. I've met people through playing, I guess, but it was never that kind of situation. (Laughs)

HP: What would you do if you didn't have to worry about money?

Schmaltz: I'd just play music, actually. I wouldn't have three jobs. I wouldn't...wow, I could pay my bills. I could pay my student loans. I would never have to worry about them again. That would be quite amazing. Man, it's something you don't think about because that's not ever a possibility.

HP: If there was a movie about your life, who would play you?

Schmaltz: Probably Natalie Portman. I've seen her play a few roles where she kinda has this naiveté about her where she kinda learns things as she goes along.

HP: Any costars?

Schmaltz: Maybe a Luke Wilson friend.

HP: Give us a factoid about yourself, like you have six toes or you are afraid of worms.

Schmaltz: Wow, these questions are very random. (Laughs) Hmm, this one is really tough; it doesn't seem like this would be a tough question. Ah, hey, this might work -- I can't touch water faucets. I turn them on with my elbows, because they're germy and it bothers me.

HP: Football or foosball?

Schmaltz: Foosball.

HP: Bert or Ernie?

Schmaltz: Bert. He's the tall melon-shaped-head one, right? I think Bert because he's kind of on the way to growing a Mohawk, if his head would allow for one, but it's not quite there.

HP: Who would you rather marry, Pee-Wee Herman or Ronald Reagan?

Schmaltz: Ahh...

HP: It's a federal law, you have to marry one of the two.

Schmaltz: (Laughs) Wow... hmm...You know, I might flee the country. I think, actually, I would have a boat waiting, even if it was one of those blow-up life rafts; I'd leave.

HP: What music have you listened to in the last 72 hours?

Schmaltz: I've listened to Patty Griffin's Living with Ghosts, the Polyphonic [Spree]'s Together We're Heavy, which is a great name for that album because there are 24 people in that band.

HP: Okay, now you're walking down a dark alley. Who would you rather meet, a werewolf, a vampire or a zombie? It's a law, you have to meet one of the three.

Schmaltz: Ahh...

HP: It's a federal law you have to meet one of them.

Schmaltz: What kind of country is this? (Laughs) A zombie, I think. I like zombie films, and I've never met a zombie.

HP: I think zombie, too. He's the only one I could outrun.

Schmaltz: Yes, that would definitely be a point of consideration. I can't imagine that they would be a charming acquaintance, but I think I could get a few good photos before I sprinted away.

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