Interesting in 2011: Laura Glazer

Laura Glazer - Interesting 2011.jpg

"I can only really be myself..."

All this week we're highlighting some of the interesting people we've gotten to know over the past year.

Laura Glazer's voice has a breathy, tiny, childlike sweetness about it, but it's not the kind of voice you're used to hearing on the radio. Still, since 2003, she's been introducing the Capital Region to all kinds of fun and interesting music on her radio program Hello Pretty City.

A little over a year ago HPC moved from its morning slot on WRPI to Sunday nights at 8 on WEXT. With that move, Glazer pretty much doubled her audience, and in the last year we've noticed her hosting live shows, appearing with WEXT at shows like Larkfest and curating the music line-up for events like the Local Harvest Festival.

But we were first introduced to Laura through her wonderful photography. For the last few years she's been photographing Phillip Patterson's efforts to transcribe the entire King James Bible by hand -- a project that was featured in the The Wall Street Journal earlier this week.

In addition her fun pins and drawings, Albany wallpaper and other art projects help make the Capital Region a more fun place to live.

Laura came to the Capital Region about ten years ago after having lived in Virginia, New York City, Minneapolis, Texas and a number of other places, but she's made a home in Albany. As she preps for the first Hello Pretty City of 2012, we talked with her about music, art, Albany, pinball and the party at Sponge Bob's house.

You started the show on WRPI back in 2003. But it's not been a career, it's been volunteer. Why did you want to do a radio show?

I was in AmeriCorps before I came to Albany, and we traveled with the same group of people for ten months. We traveled and lived together as a group, so while we were at work at Habitat for Humanity or painting homeless shelters, we listened to the radio a lot. It almost doesn't matter what you listen to, it just makes the day pass. I think that's when the thought of having a show first came to me.

But prior to that, as a little kid I experienced my first love for a rock star. I mean, Bruce Springsteen only needed to meet me and then we could be friends (laughs). I remember standing in the kitchen wearing my nightgown -- I must have been six or seven and just really trying to convince my mom that she should let me try to win those tickets to his concert on the radio. And after that I did win my first tickets -- I won tickets to Edwin Drood at the Kennedy Center and I just loved going! I was like, "I won tickets ON THE RADIO!!!!"

Also I was an only child and -- you know -- it's there. It's a source of comfort. It's a friend that you don't have to know or love all the time -- but it's just there. And you can turn it up or down, you can listen with other people and be like, "Oh, you heard that too?" I guess it's all of that combined. I wanted to be a part of that.

I probably wouldn't want to do this as a living. I don't even know if I enjoy it. It's just --my gut says "Hey, do this."

Do you have a philosophy for how you pick what's on the show?

Sort of. It probably sounds a little superficial if I say it out loud. I'll play anything that is about pinball. If anybody would write a song about playing pinball -- automatically on the radio --without a doubt it's there. Whatever happens I've always said that. If they ever write a song about pinball it's there!

Ummm... why?

Pinball is so entertaining. And it's hard to find. I just like it. When I lived in Minneapolis, I tried to start a pinball club. I put little flyers around town. We had one meeting. It was weird.

So other than pinball songs, what do you like?

I'm picky. I shouldn't say picky. I listen for quirky. I like things that sound a little off of a little unique or quirky or old-timey. Locally, We are Jeneric -- The Parlor -- I really like their sound. They're doing such cool stuff and I really like who they are. And I'm calling 2011 the year of Olivia Quillio. What she sings and how she sings it and how she plays music -- she just got me right away at that Garage to Glory. She has that spirit. I'm starting to get into Matthew Carefully's Brunswick soundtrack. And Charlie Watts Riots, I like their rock 'n roll pop sound. I like Megan Duffy, who plays with Olivia. Oh, and The Red Lions.

I feel like there is a surge happening right now with some local musicians -- there is something happening. There is a strength brewing in our local music scene -- at least it feels that way to me, I can't prove it -- where we are getting that quirky sound I like. Maybe musicians are feeling that they can carve their own kind of sound instead of having to sound like somebody else to get noticed.

So I basically sit at my computer and pick out songs just by listening to them and if they're jangly or quirky, I want to listen to them again and play them on the radio. And if someone is singing about something that is sincere -- if they sound sincere, even if it's not about pinball -- then I'll probably feel like I want to hear it again. If it sounds a little old-timey or if you could jump rope double-dutch to it or play pinball to it it will probably get on there.

I try not to play things twice, but there's certain songs. There's a Swedish woman who remixed a song by Arcade Fire, her name is Mr. Little Jeans and I just looooooved the way it felt to listen to that song driving around Albany and on the interstates around here this summer. And I was like, "I want to listen to this song with my friends and I want them to feel how I feel." But I try not to repeat songs very often. I want to explore the album and find other gems. I feel like I'm always searching for the gem in any situation. I'll go to the bookstore and I'll look for that book that I don't even know I want but that is definitely there.

Your voice is kind of a calling card -- or it seems like it is.

I can't hear it. I think a friend from 8th grade wrote something on Facebook recently, after listening to the show, about how she doesn't remember me sounding like this. I think that people get used to it. People say that after a while they don't notice it. I remember a couple of years ago -- when I first came to live here -- people would cock their head and be like ... are you for real? It's not so much what they say, it's what they do with their face. I was thinking it might go away with a certain amount of therapy [Editors note: Noooooo!!!!]

I remember a few years ago when I was in AmeriCorps, we would travel around the West and the first stop was at a little town in Central Texas called Star. They had this little diner where, on Friday nights, they would have karaoke. At the time I had a mohawk -- I had just been living in the city for a while so I was a little angular -- and one of the folks with us had dreads. We were a little like vagabonds -- not like central Texas at all. And this woman came over to me and said, "My daughter wants to see your spaceship." And I was like "What?" And she said, "She just wants you to come over and talk to her because she has never heard anyone who sounds like you." She really thought that I came in a spaceship. I think that was the first time I was really clued into the fact that my voice was different. I was about 22.

Recently I was visiting some friends from here that moved to LA, and their kids are friends with Sponge Bob's kids -- the voice of Sponge Bob. I went to a party with them and a kid came up to me and said, "Which cartoon are you the voice of?"

I think it would be fun to do voiceovers, but I can only do me. That's the thing with the radio show and the voice -- I can only really be me.

In addition to more Hello Pretty City, what's next for you?

Artwise, I'm hoping to do more photography and make more pins. I love working with paper, I love handmade things. I'd like to make more Albany pins something people can take away when they visit the Capital Region. I really like the people here and it's really important for me that people who visit have a good experience. I kind of felt people could come visit here but they couldn't take anything tangible away. So I want to give them a little bit of Albany to take home.

I have really good handwriting. I'd love to do some more hand lettering. I am a little obsessed with envelopes. My favorite thing to write on is the back of an envelope or the front of an envelope and address it ... but you have to let me put the stamp on -- I'm really picky about where the stamp goes. It's not calligraphy, it's just my handwriting. Like I said, I'm really only good at being me.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Also interesting in 2011:
+ Sarah Gordon from FarmieMarket
+ Mike Guidice & Jen Pursley Guidice from Hounds on the Hudson and Albany chickens
+ Christian Noe from Nighthawk's Kitchen
+ Samson Contompasis from Marketplace Gallery
+ Britin and Nick Foster from All Good Bakers
+Troy mayor Harry Tutunjian

Earlier on AOA:
+ Interesting in 2010
+ Interesting in 2009

Comments

And let's not forget Laura's delightful performance as Daisy in Firlefanz's Puppets performance of Ionesco's "Rhinoceros" at Albany Center Gallery earlier this month...

When we first moved to the Capital Region Hello Pretty City was a source of comfort to us. We hadn't met anyone here yet, we didn't have any friends, and we most certainly didn't know how to find other musicians...when we heard Hello Pretty City we thought to ourselves "if this radio program exists, there must be musicians here." Laura helped us to realize we just had to find them. Thank you Laura.

Jen and Eric: I can't imagine the Capital Region without you two!

Greg: That puppet show ruled!

Laura, Caroline and I listen to your show every Sunday night! It's a weekly ritual for us. Keep up the amazing work!

I miss seeing your smiling face and hearing that lovely voice as I don't have those weeklies any more over in your neck of the woods...but we all have to have our day jobs, right?

I need more photography friends. We should get back in touch.

And...I love the show, obvs.

Man, this reminds me of the good old days of WRPI. I had my office radio tuned in all day long...from Africa in Motion to Hello Pretty City...many good memories. I'm so happy to know where I can find Hello Pretty City again!

Africa in Motion!!! That was a great show!

Thank you for all the kind comments. I feel very lucky to know so many lovely listeners.

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