For folk chanteuse Mirah (a.k.a. Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn), touring “just feels natural.” And it’s no wonder: The singer-songwriter is a veteran who’s been traveling and performing since the 1990s, bringing a signature mix of pop, folk and experimental sounds.
Now Mirah is on the road once again, traversing the country (and a bit of Canada) with her fifth solo album, “Changing Light,” which was released this spring. After a stop in her newfound home city (she’s recently Brooklyn-based), Mirah is on her way back west to California, Oregon, Washington and Vancouver.
amNewYork caught up with Mirah by phone a few days before her show at Le Poisson Rouge.
Do you like touring?
When I’m not doing it, there's a part of me that's like, "I need to be playing music." But then there's this part of me that's like, "I wish I could stay home." There's something comforting about moving forward through space and then playing music every night. I think the only thing I don't like about touring is not getting sleep and not having enough control over what I eat and when i eat it. Other than that, i could just keep doing it. I'm bringing a hot plate this time, so then if I feel trapped without the right foods I can make some for myself.
What was it like working on this album, in part, in Brooklyn?
It was a bit of a ramshackle process spanning a length of time and a number of different locations. I moved to Brooklyn, in part, in order to finish the record. I had a hunch that was the place I’d be able to complete my project, and I was right.
Why did you suspect Brooklyn would be the place to get work done?
I lived on the West Coast for 20 years and I got a lot done there. But there's something missing motivationally about the last couple of years on the West Coast, and it seemed like living in New York would spur me to step it up a bit because everyone I know in New York is always beginning work on and completing huge projects. I needed to be around that.
You don’t get distracted by all the fun things to do in the city?
Actually, I feel like I don't get to do the things that are great to do in New York often enough because I feel like I end up getting busy working on projects. I wish that I got distracted more, in a way, so I can take advantage of the place I decided to move to.
What kind of things would you do if you had the time?
There are a million show openings and various events that I miss all the time. If I could have a month where I would go on an exploratory bike ride every day and then went to a show or a museum every afternoon or evening that would be great.
How do you find biking in the city?
It's way better than it used to be, I think. But it's very fascinating how once people enter into the costume of their vehicle, they treat people very differently. It becomes very adversarial. Generally when we're walking down the street we're not trying to run each other over, but for some reason in the context of our different vehicle costumes there's some weird aggressive instinct that comes out in people. It's like they want to kill you if you're on a bicycle. It's weird. But one of the things I enjoy about biking, especially in New York, is the necessity to concentrate in a very particular way. On a bad day that’s stressful, but sometimes it just feels like a very intense focus and there's something that's great about that, especially for a person like me. I get distracted. Having a reason to focus is good.
What can fans expect on this tour?
We will be playing the whole new record. I feel very proud of it. It's maybe my favorite record I’ve played. And there will be some old songs. I went to see Kate Bush in London a few weeks ago and I’ve listened to her more recent albums, but when she started singing “Running Up That Hill” it made a feeling inside me and I enjoyed having that feeling. So I always keep some older songs in the set because I know that's a good feeling.