Singer-songwriter Rebecca Loebe has a unique perspective on show business. She started out writing her own songs, releasing her first album in 2004 while studying recording engineering at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Convinced by one of her professors that she should pursue her musical career instead, she toured the country while living in her car for a good part of the last decade. She released her second album, Mystery Prize, in 2010.
Her new album is called Circus Heart. It’s a delightful slice of folk-pop with just a touch of twang. In our interview, Loebe described it as “a loud, fun, boisterous experiment.” All of the instruments were played by Loebe, her recording engineer Mark Addison and the album’s producer, Matt Sever.
Loebe comes to New Jersey to play a show at the Notes From Home concert series in Montclair tonight at 7 p.m.
The album was recorded at the beginning of 2012 and work on it was completed around mid-year.
Loebe also filmed a video for the title track with the help of friend Chris Tsambis. “He has a really active imagination. He can see things that I can’t. As soon as he heard that song, he knew what he wanted to do. He’s got a very ‘meta’ approach to his videos. There’s a scene-within-a-scene feel to it,” said Loebe.
“I was very impressed by his vision,” added Loebe.
(You can see the video for the title track here. Give it a listen!)
In early 2011, Loebe was suddenly thrust into the spotlight when she was approached about auditioning for the first season of NBC’s singing contest, The Voice in early 2011.
“I got an e-mail from one of the casting directors. They needed singers. Based on the description of the show, it didn’t sound interesting but there was no point in saying no,” recalled Loebe.
Loebe survived a series of callback auditions and won a spot in the blind auditions. She sang Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.” “I was in L.A. preparing for two weeks. You have to meet with lawyers and wardrobe people, the song selection people and do all this weird behind-the-scenes prep, all for a 90-second performance. When I performed on the show, it was the scariest thing I had ever done in my life to that point,” said Loebe, who had previously jumped out of a plane on her 19th birthday.
She was eventually chosen for Adam Levine’s team. She appeared on just two shows before being eliminated, but saw it as a positive experience. “All my interactions with him were really pleasant. It was his first season too, so he was equally uncomfortable with the reality TV portion of things,” said Loebe.
Loebe made an appearance on the iTunes chart as a result of her appearance on The Voice. Her original music also sold well for a time.
Even though she didn’t win, Loebe is philosophical about her experience. “It’s something that happened that was an interesting diversion. It helps open some doors. It helps some people think I’m an important person. It doesn’t feel any more significant than any other performance I’ve given in my life, but it was seen by millions of people, so it carries more weight,” said Loebe.
Loebe concluded “those two performances I did were so terrifying that I haven’t been scared of any performances since then. I’ve been joyful to be performing in front of a real audience who aren’t there to judge or criticize or sell ad space.”
Her experience on The Voice led her to cover Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” on the new album. Loebe recalled that “the song just popped into my head one day. I was playing it in a tongue-in-cheek style. There was more attention being paid to me and my music, my image and my artistry. You get feedback form Facebook and Twitter talking about you like you’re an object and not a person. I’d never encountered that level of exposure. I can‘t imagine what it would be like to be in the spotlight all day long. Just the glimpse of it was staggering. It was important for me to take that phrase back and say I don’t give a damn what people think.”