This week's TT Test is taken by Grant Lee Phillips whose musicianship as writer,vocalist and multi-instrumentalist is inspiring. He first came to notice with the band 'Grant Lee Buffalo' and has continued to make great music as a solo artist, with highly acclaimed records, writing music for independent movies as well as appearing regularly on the TV show 'Gilmore Girls' as the town troubadour. I'm delighted that he has found time to answer the TT Test! What is your wake up song at the moment ? I’ve been waking up with The Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee” in my head for the last few weeks. I’ve always loved the song but I have no idea why it’s enjoying a comeback in my mind. It’s so melancholic, perfect for the rainy weather. Which work of art or single event has most influenced you in your chosen profession ? It’s hard to place the blame on one culprit but I have to imagine it was the Beatle’s film “Help” and that particular song that lured me in, made me want to be a musician and began my love of heavy overcoats. If you could travel back in time, which period would you most like to visit and why ? I’ve always been drawn to that period between 1860’s - 1890’s. It was the golden age of sideburns, Laudanum and revolution. It was a bit like the sixties, but in sepia. I love eating out and discovering new restaurants, can you please recommend one to me ? Breakfast, right behind dessert, is the most important meal of the day. The Pacific Dining Car [link] in downtown Los Angeles has one of the best. It’s a step back in time, ordering Eggs Hussarde in a 1920s railway car. An endless flow of black coffee makes for one of those easy mornings that last all day. What is the best advice you ever been given relating to your professional/creative life ? Aside from being tipped off about the Eggs Hussard ? I’ve been the beneficiary of great council many times. Among the many artists, writers, musicians and professionals in my life, the words of my wife have meant the most however. She sees far down the road, when I can hardly find the wheel. BONUS QUESTIONS : You have such a unique & wonderful singing style, is there a singer that particularly influenced you as you were discovering your voice ? My grandmother was an incredible singer. She had a voice like Mahalia Jackson. She sang in a little country church but she also loved the blues. I’ve heard she sang in clubs when she was young. She was never really a performer in the time I knew her but she poured herself into her voice. She greatly encouraged me to play the guitar and sing and that made a huge impact on me. I also have a slightly silly question or maybe just an observation, I don't know if you are aware of the Canadian writer & actress Anne Marie MacDonald but you have a very striking resemblance to her ! I just googled Anne Marie MacDonald. I can see the resemblance and I’m flattered. I hope she is.
Photo Kenneth Scott