Former New Orleans musician Myshkin, a geographically restless artist who’s more jazz-poet-chanteuse than conventional singer-songwriter, is back in Louisiana for a spring visit.
Based in Oregon since 2002, Myshkin lived in the Ninth Ward with her ex-husband and former musical partner, Mike West, before going west to Portland.
“Something told me to go,” she said almost apologetically this week. “Whatever voices in my head. But it’s a beautiful city. I’ve got a good community there.”
Myshkin left Portland in 2007, buying 47 acres in southern Oregon with a potter friend. Her plan for the land, a long-held dream, was to create a self-sustaining arts community there.
“The eventual idea is to provide a place for residencies and collaborative work to happen, besides the folk who are living on the land,” Myshkin said.
A recording studio, art studio and pottery studio have been built at the site. They also have fruit trees and a substantial garden.
Myshkin built her studio from natural materials, including cob, a remarkably sturdy mix of clay, sand, straw and water. She named it The Nest. She named her band, a fluid group that’s had dozens of members through the years, the Ruby Warblers.
“I’m proud of it,” she said of the earthen-walled studio. “It’s such beautiful material to work with. You end up with a sculptural building. Quite often I’m sitting at my desk working and I look up and I’m really happy to be in that little building.”
Stepping away from music while she built The Nest, Myshkin was glad to finally return to music.
“I came back with much more patience and a lot of gratitude,” she said.
Myshkin stitched together her seventh album, That Diamond Lust, in The Nest. She recorded most of her vocals and guitar there but the majority of the other instruments were tracked in Portland and New Orleans.
“It was a very layered affair,” she said. “And then I did the long, indelicate editing process in the studio.”
Despite living in Oregon for more than decade, Myshkin kept her New Orleans connections.
“I feel really lucky to be here more often lately,” she said.
She’s also formed a new band with two New Orleans friends, singer and ukulele player Debbie Davis and cellist Helen Gillet. It’s called the Gloryoskis!
Concurrent with the recent New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Gloryoskis! performed at alternative festival Chaz Fest and at Siberia, a Bywater music venue.
“I was considering living half a year down here,” Myshkin said. “That’s recently changed, but I’ve decided that New Orleans is my musical home. I’m allowed to come here and work with all these wonderful musicians. It feels really good to be gigging and recording down here.”
While she’s in the city, Myshkin is recording material for her next solo album.
“Planting seeds for that, getting friends together, all in a room playing at once, which is something we haven’t done in a long time.”