Interviews Music

One Track Mind: Corrina Repp

The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter delves back into a song that soundtracked a memorable roadtrip

The premise of One Track Mind is pretty simple: I ask artists to pick one track that means a lot to them – either something they’ve discovered recently, something that’s been with them for years, or one that reminds them of a specific time in their life or career – and tell me what makes it so special to them. I get to talk to the artists I love, and they get to talk about the artists they love. Love all round!

Currently based in Los Angeles, Corrina Repp originally emerged in the Portland scene and has, across six albums and two decades, carefully and patiently developed her sound. Fragile, delicately crafted, and often stripped down to the very barest of bones, Corrina’s music explores universal themes through intimate and often personal narratives that gives it real emotional heft. I first became aware of Corrina via her 2006 album The Absent and The Distant and still go back to it on an almost weekly basis, especially the track Afloat, which is, without doubt, one of the saddest and most beautiful songs ever written. Her brilliant new album, Island, is out now, and if you’re a newcomer to her work it’s a great place to start.

For her One Track Mind selection, Corrina talks about the transportive experience of hearing a song from a titan of US jazz and pop music for the very first time.

Corrina Repp on Peggy Lee – The White Birch And The Sycamore

“It was July of 2020 the first time I heard Peggy Lee’s The White Birch And The Sycamore off of her 1958 album Sea Shells. With this song, I was transported to a place where time stood still. I was on a road trip up the pacific coast highway, where the epic redwoods meet the sea, and was stopped in my tracks as the misty ocean air blew around me holding me in an embrace of the essence of nature and feminine beauty.

“This trip was the first time I had left my neighborhood of Echo Park in 4 months, because of quarantine, so I felt particularly awake and aware of everything, and this song was the soundtrack to my freedom. It was gentle and slow, like a whisper of hope and the possibility of good things to come. I felt grateful for the adventure and did not take anything for granted. Driving up the small winding highway I played this song over and over again. I had never heard anything like it, especially for a woman in 1958, when the album was released.

“This song is just Peggy Lee singing in her deep, rich and resonant voice alongside a harp and a harpsichord. Nothing else. The lyrics on this album, as far as I’ve been able to find, are essays translated from Chinese Poetry, and are delivered with a delicate honoring of each phrase. “The crickets chirped til the shades grew long. And the little bird sang and evening song. Then the white birch said to the sycamore. There’s the key that fits to his own front door.” I don’t much care for the rest of Peggy Lee’s work, but this album is a rare offering, and for the time, incredibly brave.

Corrina Repp – Island is out now