LENGTH: 871 words
HEADLINE: Aimee Mann Wises Up, Finds Success
BYLINE: Steve Baltin
Aimee Mann Wises Up, Finds Success
Golden Globe nominee Aimee Mann finds life after labels
A look at the list of nominees for Best Original Song From a Motion Picture at this year's Golden Globes reads like a who's who of pop superstars. Among the contenders are Madonna, Phil Collins and Randy Newman. Even newcomer Joy Enriquez made the field with a song co-written by Babyface. And then there's Aimee Mann, and her "Save Me." There is some kind of karmic irony about the music industry's ultimate outsider keeping company with this group of showbiz insiders. Or maybe it's just that with the soundtrack to Magnolia, Mann's luck is finally changing.
Because of record label hardships that are now legendary in the industry, Mann, the former 'Til Tuesday frontwoman, has released only two solo albums in over ten years. Though both records received rave reviews, it seemed as if corporate mergers would keep Mann from ever getting out new material. Enter Paul Thomas Anderson, the writer/director of Boogie Nights, as well as a friend and fan of Mann.
In the liner notes to the soundtrack of his latest epic, Magnolia, which features a stellar ensemble cast that includes Tom Cruise, Anderson credits Mann's songs with inspiring the script. Whichever came first, the movie or the music, there is no arguing that the symmetry between the two is an impressive marriage. Mann contributed nine of the soundtrack's thirteen songs. Even with the long wait since her last album, 1995's I'm With Stupid, the Magnolia soundtrack should be more than enough to hold over her fans until Mann's official new CD, Bachelor No. 2, comes out in March, and she is set to tour the U.S. with fellow singer-songwriter and husband, Michael Penn. Mann is taking no chances with the album's release, putting it out on her own imprint, SuperEgo Records; no label executives are going to stand in her way this time.
How are you enjoying the completely independent thing?
So far, so good. I've been fairly busy with Magnolia and the subsequent press and hoopla surrounding that, so I haven't really had a lot of time to think about my own record. I've mastered it and we finished the artwork and all that, so I haven't continued to work on it. As far as a plan or an ultimate goal of world domination, I haven't really worked out the details. I think my plan is to just get the thing out, get ready for the tour, have fun and see what happens.
Have you been surprised by all of the hoopla surrounding the Magnolia soundtrack?
I haven't been surprised, but I didn't really think about it so I didn't know what to expect. I think it's interesting to observe how movies do it differently and how much power a studio has.
You were quoted recently as saying that you're one of those people who can't handle success. Does all this attention make you nervous?
No, because it's a different kind of attention. What would make me nervous is being nominated for an MTV award and going to those giant MTV parties where everyone is beyond cool and crazy and edgy. I just totally feel like I don't belong with those people. Not that I feel like I belong at the Golden Globes, but, because it's so clear that I don't belong, I feel more at home. I suppose it's pretty ridiculous. I don't want to dig a big hole for myself. There's so much modern pop music that I don't even like that I don't want to feel like I'm a part of it. Not to be a big snob, but it just doesn't seem to have much to do with me. Like, if I went to one of those MTV parties, who would I hang out with? Sting? Sting's a nice guy. I'd hang out with him I guess. Jewel? [laughs]
Well you did some dates on the Lilith Fair. Who did you hang out with?
I spent some time with Sheryl Crow and Sarah [McLachlan]. They were super nice. But, you know, it was only four [dates]; you don't really get to know anybody.
Does the attention you are getting now offer some sort of vindication?
Yes, totally. Except I'm so glad to be out of that system that I don't need any sort of "I told you so." I'm just glad the nightmare is over. I don't really think about it. You have to be sort of angry still to care about it and say, "Oh, I bet they're eating their words now." I don't even want them to eat their words. As long as I don't have to do it, I'm fine. They can do anything they want to.
If the opportunity presented itself to go back on a label, would you?
Probably, yeah. If I really thought that it was workable. I certainly would not sign the same kind of contract. I never was interested in doing it all myself; I just thought that the level of interference that I was getting was so out of hand that I would rather be on my own than put up with it anymore.
(January 19, 2000)