In Depth with Laura Cortese5 min read

(Originally posted November 17, 2012)

Laura Cortese is a Boston based musician working to get her new record “In The Lowlands” released next year. The record features original songs as well as some traditional ones. The new album has a lot of very special guest musicians who Laura has befriended over the years through being on the road and teaching at various music camps.

Below is the video for Laura’s current Kickstarter Campaign, check it out and if you like what you see/hear head on over and support her here

Check out our in depth interview with Laura about how she got started, where she’s been, and where she is going with her musical journey….

The Whole (S)tory (TWS): What was the moment in your life when you knew you had to start playing music?

Laura Cortese (LC): Hmm. it was more of a slow grow I suppose. I always wanted to be involved in things. My mom has this anecdote…When I was three or four years old we were watch the Nutcracker on public TV and I said ‘Mama break open the TV” and she said..”Laura, If I break open the TV we won’t be able to watch the TV anymore because it will be broken,” to which I replied, “Mama, break open the TV I want to dance with those people!!”

My mom also has a cassette tape of me making up songs and singing them into the recorder from age 5 or so and up. Some of the songs are actually pretty amazing…some are just kid singing but somedays I think about stealing some of my old school melodies. They are little pop, rhythmic phrases.

When I was about nine I got to pick an instrument in school. My grandmother played the violin so that seemed like a pretty cool instrument to me. Within a few years though, the school orchestra was getting me down. Staring at music stands, not really interacting. It wasn’t until I went to fiddle camp at age 12 that i first experienced community around music. That was revolutionary for me. I didn’t really look back. Mind you I was pretty poor on the fiddle at that point but I was inspired to be more involved. It wasn’t until I was 15 that I started to contemplate making music my life.

TWS: Which instrument did you start out on? Was there a specific moment when you knew you had to play that instrument? Is it your favorite to play today?

LC: I suppose everyone’s first instrument is really their voice. Every three year old I’ve met makes up little songs. I guess some of us just keep on doing it even when we realize people are listening. After voice it was fiddle. I had a six month experiment with the electric bass which was pretty amazing as a thirteen year old but competitive swimming got in the way of that. I still have a lot of fun on the bass but I really express myself the best between the fiddle and my voice.

TWS: How has being a full time musician today changed since you decided to pursue music full time?

LC: I don’t really have anything to compare it to. From the time I was fifteen or so I thought of music as my main interest. I used to get pretty frustrated when it didn’t count towards my GPA in high school. I studied music in college and hit the road near the end of college. I haven’t ever had another job. I remember my mom telling me in high school that I was trying to do ‘too much’. I would argue back and say that school was the only thing that was too much. You know my mom was right! I still have a tendency to take on too many commitments. Now booking gigs, promoting records, interacting with fans…these can be the things that I have to limit in order to have time to create new music and to be a good friend, wife, daughter etc.

TWS: If you couldn’t be a musician but could be anything else in the world, what would it be? Why?

LC: I have a hard time finding an answer for this but recently I have enjoyed writing blogs. So perhaps a writer. I love contemplating big ideas. I love putting ideas into the world and getting feed back on them. hmmm! Something to contemplate.

TWS: What is your favorite part of playing music?

LV: traveling, connecting my mind and body in an act of expression, completing the circuit with the audience and other musicians so all our arm hairs stand on end.

TWS: What is the craziest thing someone has come up to you and said at a show?

LC: Ha ha. One woman came up to me at a house concert and said, ‘When you started singing it felt like my skin was being ripped off. It was incredible.”

TWS: Where is the place, anywhere in the world, that inspires you the most creatively?

LC: fiddle camp, Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park, Three Mile Island on Lake Winnepesaukee

TWS: What is the best advice you have been given about being a professional musician? What is the worst?

LC: Hmm. To take time to make your art. To not let the business side take over so much that the songs can’t flow. Once you have your CD promotion is the best place to spend your time and your money. People must hear your music and like it before anything else can follow.

The worst advice…I can’t think of any. perhaps I blocked it out.

TWS: If you could perform with anyone throughout musical history, dead or alive, who would it be?

LC: Otis Redding…that man could sing, he could ache and he could perform. Talk about completing the circuit…

TWS: What are the current projects you are involved in and where can the readers find out more about them?

LC: I am finishing up a new record right now. We actually just launched a Kickstarter for it. You can check out clips of the new music there. Of course there is always my website!


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