5 Questions: Amalea Tshilds

Photo credit: Whitney Bradshaw

Amalea Tshilds, a songwriter and singer from Chicago, will release her second full-length record on February 21 at Constellation. She is a founding member of the alt-country group Girls of the Golden West and has also released a solo record, Painted Tiles, with an all-star cast of collaborating Chicago musicians.  In her latest record, Love on the Ground, her unique voice and dreamlike orchestrations explore complex roots in folk and choir.  Accompanied by Joseph Adamik, Elise Bergman, Gillian Lisee, and Sam Wagster, Love on the Ground presents nine mystical love songs for impossible times.  Recorded by Dorian Gehring and with guest appearances from Marydee Reynolds, Holly Stevens, Caroline Campbell, Ben Clarke, Jim Becker, and Doug McCombs.

You can keep track of her work on her Instagram page or her Spotify feed.

Amalea Tshilds performing at the Hungry Brain in Chicago with Elise Bergman and Gillian Lisee | Photo credit: Beto Defreitas

1. What’s been keeping you up at night?
Lots of things keep me up at night. If the rest of the household is actually asleep I often pick up a guitar and write by singing into a voice record. I like the quiet mood of the wee hours. 

2. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen or heard lately?
I really enjoyed Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore’s set at the Hideout this past October. Beautiful vocals, instrumentation, and writing. Hearing musicians play in small groups (duets or trios) is top on my listening to live performance—Like the wee hours of the night, the experience is very intimate. 

3. What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now? 
I have been writing a new set of songs. Writing a new song, when it is going well, has a similar excitement to dating a new person (if I am recalling that feeling properly?) It refuels me and then I get obsessive with it (like play it, for hours, over and over until seems right enough to present it to someone.) 

I like repetition and meditative guitar lines, I like working on harmonies, and I’m inclined to “crooked” spots that blend back into the verse (like a beat skipped or a run-on sentence that missed some punctuation.)— new stuff is always an exciting thing even when some of the same tendencies are repeated. 
Right now, I thrilled to present “love on the ground” – my new record and get ready for the show at Constellation on February 21.

Album art by Constance Tshilds

4. If you could add anyone, alive or dead to your team, who would it be?
A question with so much pressure. Right now I am so thrilled to be working with Joe Adamik, Elise Bergman, Gillian Lisee, and Sam Wagster. They are all amazing musicians and people and I feel very lucky that they are into the songs. It’s difficult to imagine this kind of thing— I would love to hang with Yoko Ono, Dolly Parton, Gillian Welch…

I think Gillian Welch and David Rawlings have a super cool musical relationship. I would love a partner like how I imagine Gillian Welch and David Rawlings live their lives—supporting each other’s tour and record and doing it themselves. I am not sure what they would say about that but from my point of view, it seems very supportive and collaborative and close to ideal in my head.  So I’d love to work with both of them, at the same time. 

5. When the movie of your life is made, what will it be called?
Siren song