Spencer strikes gold with "Matches and Valentines"

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OMC: Did you study music at school or are you self-taught?

HS: I am self-taught. I am still in school now. After dropping in and out for so many years, I'm in it again, studying film. The reason I first wanted to go to film school was because I felt my music best fit in a movie soundtrack. I thought I could just put my own songs in my own movies, but discovered they were separate arts completely for me, so that dream of a song in a movie still hangs .

OMC: Sigmund Snopek played flute on your song "Daydreams," and I heard your family has a history playing with him. Is this true?

HS: Yes. Sigmund was a friend of my dad's. I was not there during his recording on my record, but Bill Curtis, the engineer, described it to me like awe. I guess he played it once through, Bill didn't know what to say because he was so blown away, so he said, "What do you want to do?" And Sigmund said, "Let's do it again," and they kept that second track.

OMC: Didn't you perform on one of Snopek's albums, too?

HS: Yes, me and Llysa (my sister) sang the chorus of a poem my dad had written called "Symphony of Man" on Sig's "Trinity Seas Seize Sees." Working with him that day was funny, because we were way too slow for his genius approaches.

OMC: How did you start gigging out?

HS: I worked waitressing with Sheila Spargur at the old Sheila's Cafe in the Plaza Hotel, and she was so creative and interesting and funny and kind as well as a poet. She hosted the old open mic at Hotel Wisconsin, the name of the room now escapes me (Café Melange - ed.). But she got me to go there, then proceeded to get me a show with Amy Rohan, when she -- I think -- was still in High School, at the old coffee shop Actwerks on Hampshire. Actually, those were the 2nd and 3rd shows. The first one was at UWM. I went by myself, I remember now. I didn't want anyone to know I was going, except my sister, who dropped me off and picked me up.

OMC: Are you happy with your new record?

HS: Yes, I'm happy with the record, (but it didn't happen overnight.) I once went to Nashville about three years ago to record with a really nice man who I didn't know. We recorded four songs in three weeks. They brought in studio musicians from the city, and they were just so polished, too clean, too perfect. Not raw, really. I never released those songs. They are songs I'd like to redo if I have another album, which I am nowhere near. That's why it was so important for me to use Milwaukee musicians only. People I knew, people I knew better after this experience.

OMC: Why did you name the record "Matches and Velentines?"

HS: Good question. I knew I didn't want the title of the CD to come from the title of a song. For sure. So when I was playing one night, my friend Chelsea was there listening, and she suggested it with a great deal of character. She's the sweetest. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. I collect matchboxes and antique valentines. And I just like the image of those words "matches and valentines." It could mean many things and it could mean nothing at all. I guess it means that batch of songs.

OMC: In a couple of your songs, especially "Daydreams," your voice sounds a little like Tori Amos'. Is Tory an influence? What about Paula Cole or Kate Bush, who clearly influenced Tori?

HS: I of course love Tori Amos, but don't know much, if any Kate Bush or Paula Cole. But I have to reiterate, it was Edie Brickell and Joni Mitchell I emulated at 18, and I honestly don't think I picked up any heavy influences since.

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