AE: Well I know from reading your Tweets that you’ve got a special relationship with your grandma — and I’m obsessed with mine so I get this. Do you talk to her about any of this? I think she’d have an interesting perspective.
JS: I mean, we talk a lot about kindness and just trying to be the best person you can be. We’re both very sincere and kind of emotional in a sense that we’re in touch with our feelings. So I think when we talk about things, it’s just trying to get past hard moments and look forward and know how much strength we have with each other and how much unconditional love we have for each other. To be honest, that’s a good way that I’ve found — obviously some people are going to cut you down no matter how nice you are — but I think the most important thing is to try and be the best person you can be. Wake up every morning and say you’re going to try to be fair and try to be honest and understand my own feelings — I know this is starting to sound cheesy and like Deepok (Chopra) or something. [Laughs]
AE: [Laughs] No, not at all.
JS: Kind of what I’ve realized, especially as someone who’s kind of a public figure, is try and not be a part of a mess. Just try to be part of something positive.
AE: I can definitely understand that feeling. Of course, I can also know how difficult that can be.
JS: Yeah. It’s really interesting because you’ve gotta understand yourself if you want to put yourself out there. I think sometimes it’s really scary because if I don’t understand what I’m feeling —
Or like in music making, even when it comes down to writing lyrics sometimes, I want to write a song about how I’m indifferent about this thing — but then I’m like, no, I want to write this song and be confident so that these people feel confident too. So that’s been a big struggle in writing this record because I want to say that I’m sad and I want to say that I’m confused but then when it comes down to it, I want to be the face of somebody who brings confidence and is sure of what’s happening but maybe isn’t sure of the outcome but knows what their feelings are. You know what I mean? It’s been interesting because I’ve been trying to write intelligent but confused lyrics and it’s hard [Laughs]. I do want to come across as though I’m strong. You know?
AE: Yeah and that’s actually really interesting to think about because I think part of being confident about something is also maybe going through different stages of confidence. So going blindly confident into something that would be one thing – but then questioning things and maybe being a little bit nervous but maybe knowing that afterwards, if you get a lot of people to help with it — I don’t know, maybe if you build it it will come.
AE: Wanting to get across your feelings about things but also wanting to be confident, I definitely think there’s a place for both of those.
JS: Yeah, and I definitely think “Make Him Pay” is a good example of that because the lyrics say, “You don’t know, you don’t know, you don’t know what I am. If I don’t kiss your ass you think I’m biting your hand.” Which is kind of like I’m somewhere in between. You don’t understand me but I’m going to come together with my people and we’re going to take over.
And “I Don’t Care,” the song we put out with Cyndi Keith, was kind of like myself talking to myself about all kinds of issues. One of them being the apathy I feel at the moment of like, pictures or something like that and both understanding but also criticizing that apathy at the same time. And I think that kind of abstract contextual ways to produce a song is really interesting to me. So we can talk about my duality without saying it literally.