Based in University Heights, Normandie Wilson is a self-taught pianist who worked as an accompanist in her small West Virginia town from middle school through high school.
“I grew up listening to 1960s music — Burt Bacharach, the Beach Boys, Motown — and watching birds with my grandma.”
Wilson spent the past five years living in L.A. and playing with Red Pony Clock. “I was coming down [to San Diego] for shows and recording and everything. I moved here for good after a European tour with my last CD, which I released with Sebastian Clark. Here in San Diego I’ve been putting my focus on recording some new indie-pop material.”
Her newest album, The Flower Box, was released last month. “I make DIY vintage 1960s pop music in the vein of Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick, and I also throw in a little bit of funk. I think if you placed Prince, Ben Folds, and the Carpenters in a blender, that might describe what I do. I also write a lot of instrumental pieces for unusual instruments, like the soundtracks done by Ennio Morricone.”
In addition to music, Wilson is a visual artist who is endeavoring to paint or draw every known living species of bird, a quest that can be followed at everysinglebird.com. She also works with the San Diego Audubon Society’s conservation committee.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
1) Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra, Runnin’ Wild. “It’s a nice recorded reinterpretation of some classic Glenn Miller songs without all the static and fuzz heard on the older recordings. The fidelity of the record means you can hear the songs a little more like how they sounded when hearing them live back in the 1940s.”
2) Mill Kids, A Zoo Full of Zebras. “This is Jordan Michelman’s record — he used to be in a Seattle band called Patience Please. He’s a brilliant songwriter, and the CD is lo-fi bedroom pop, very vulnerable, and I really enjoy that kind of stuff.”
3) The Beach Boys, Little Deuce Coupe/All Summer Long. “At first listen, a record all about cars may seem shallow, but underneath everything you can hear all the harmonies and complex chords. I think it’s fascinating to hear what they did with the songs back when they had to release a new record every three to six months.”
4) Prince, Controversy. “Prince is one of my favorite artists of all time, right up there with the Beach Boys, and his vocal work on this record is masterful.”
5) Birds & Batteries, Up to No Good. “I saw these guys at South by Southwest, and I was blown away. It’s very sexy electropop funk mixed with raw vocals and other things that you might think don’t fit with synthesizers, but they do. The production is flawless.”
BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?
“My dance-major mentor from Oberlin College, Elesa Rosasco, said to me, ‘Everything takes longer than you think.’ At first I felt really defeated that she said that. Then I got into the real world and saw this is often true. It helped me gain a lot of patience and to remain calm when things are taking longer than I want them to, whether it’s getting traction in my career or getting a bagel for breakfast.”
MOST VISITED WEBSITES?
1) thefrisky.com. “It’s a women’s blog that has very little advertising, with real advice from real women. It’s also light on the sex tips and shopping overload found in most women’s magazines.”
2) failbook.com. “Hilarious and not always suitable for work.”
3) failblog.org. “Unfortunately, or fortunately, the internet has made it easier to make fun of everything and everyone.”
MAC OR PC?
“Mac. I had a PC for four years in college, and after the first year and a half it was an absolute dinosaur. I switched to Macs because my college was an all-Mac school, meaning that every computer in the lab or public spaces was a Mac. I really don’t have many problems with my Mac, and I’m a sucker for the design.”
WHO SHOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?
“My only criteria would be that I’d want her to have a bump in her nose like I do, and I’d want her to be short. Maybe Kristen Bell? I Googled ‘short actresses,’ and that’s what came up.”
EVER BEEN A CRIME VICTIM?
“As a pedestrian in L.A., I was hit by a car. Some dude was trying to make a lane where there wasn’t one, and his side mirror struck me in the back of the shoulder. He drove off, but someone was able to flag him down. I got a small insurance settlement a while back, but it seems like my back hasn’t really been the same. So if there’s a good chiropractor or cranialsacral therapist out there, call me.”
WHERE DO YOU TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS?
“Balboa Park and the Tijuana River Estuary. I also try to take everyone to the Linkery in North Park and Eclipse Chocolat on El Cajon Boulevard.”
BEST THING YOU EVER WON?
“A couple of weeks ago I attended climate-change training and won a pretty sweet water bottle. With no strings attached. I use it all the time. I haven’t won too many things that don’t come with strings attached.”
FIRST BOOK YOU REMEMBER READING?
“The one I remember most vividly is The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois.”
ANY TOPICS OFF LIMITS AT YOUR FUNERAL?
“I wouldn’t forbid anyone from discussing anything. I guess when I go, I want to have some kind of crazy funeral that leaves everyone laughing, but we all grieve in different ways. If someone wants to grieve by saying I was a talentless hack with terrible fashion sense, well, go for it. I’m not gonna be there!”
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU COULD SUDDENLY READ MINDS?
“I’d probably go insane because I’m very sensitive. I think I’d start by finding a way to turn the mind-reading on and off. So many people carry around thoughts about their own inadequacy, their own unhappiness and fears…it’s a scary world out there.”
BRUSH WITH FAME?
“I met Alec Baldwin when I was working in L.A. He’s a lot better looking in person, and he was very kind. His daughter was with him, too, and he seemed like he was being a good dad to her.”
“Last week my roommates had Troll 2 on. I think it was voted worst movie of all time, but I love those campy horror B-movies from the 1980s. The plot involves vegetarian trolls who feast on humans, who get turned into vegetation. Awful and awesome.”
SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?
“I was one of the first three women in West Virginia to be able to pole vault as a sanctioned sport in track-and-field.”■