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"Neil Young is also a perfectionist. He has a musical vision, and he doesn’t compromise." - Astrid Young

Posted: January 24, 2024
Neil Young would never let me do more than two takes in the studio because he values the energy of the moment, that’s something that I feel like is a double-edged sword because that’s not how I operate.
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Photo cover by: Ed Sculthorpe

As stars are the fundamental building blocks of the galaxy, the star chart at the time of Astrid's birth, both literally and figuratively, reveals that Astrid's destiny was written in the "stars". And as her name suggests, her path has been divinely beautiful and magical.  Young's novel, Being Young: Scott, Neil and Me explores her extraordinary life from her unique perspective.  

Astrid Young is the younger sister of Neil Young, the epic and iconic rock star.  She's the daughter of the distinguished and celebrated Scott Young; journalist, sportswriter, and novelist. A Canadian singer-songwriter and musician by trade, Astrid's career has taken her around the world, both on her own and singing backup for her brother Neil Young.  You're an extraordinary and multi-talented artist Astrid Young!  

Sophia: Astrid, you have an album release coming in the Spring of 2024.  And you've earned a brilliant production collaboration with the epic and legendary Eddie Kramer! 

Eddie has collaborated with epic and legendary artists now in the rock and Roll Hall of Fame!  Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, the Kinks, Kiss, John Mellencamp, and Carlos Santana!   

Sophia:  Please tell me about the creative process with Eddie Kramer and what you’ve learned from working with him. 

Astrid: Eddie is a force of nature, as you can imagine. I am constantly amazed at the enthusiasm he has for music, he just lights up when he hears a great song, like a kid hearing something for the first time! It’s very validating for me, as you know, most musicians and artists, you’re so inside your own head. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether what you’re doing is any good. But he just LOVES my work, it’s incredibly gratifying. I must be doing something right. The fact that he is who he is, and he trusts me so implicitly… I can’t even tell you how good that feels. 

Sophia: How do you feel that Eddie has influenced this album production?  

Astrid: Well, you know Eddie is old-school. And he’s got incredible ears, he hears things you wouldn’t believe. So, there’s no getting anything past him, ha-ha. He’s a perfectionist, but everything he does, and all his decisions are in service to the song. If something isn’t working, he does not hesitate to say something, which is amazing. Like, the string date we did, for example. The arrangement wasn’t working in one part, and he just stopped the session and had the arranger come in and fix it, right there. He’s a taskmaster, and I know I speak for everyone who worked on this record, we all appreciate that because it gives us the freedom to be who we are as artists and players.  

Sophia:  Neil Young is a towering figure in modern music and has a vast catalogue of iconic music.  He's a celebrated rock star and has had a tremendous influence on musicians the world over!  Can you please share one highlight in which Neil has impacted your music? 

Astrid: It would be hard to pick one. But again, you know, Neil is also a perfectionist. He has a musical vision, and he doesn’t compromise. He would never let me do more than two takes in the studio because he values the energy of the moment, that’s something that I feel like is a double-edged sword because that’s not how I operate. I’ll do a hundred takes to get something right, but that’s just me. We are a lot alike in many ways, but the way we approach recording is a bit different…. it’s kind of hard to say I learned this or that from him, because it’s all inside me, you know. Maybe the most important thing is that you should never compromise your art (or anything) based on someone else’s idea of what you ought to be doing. And if it doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do it, it’s not worth it.  

Sophia:  Who are some famous musical artists and/or bands that you have been inspired by and collaborated with?  

Astrid: Inspired, well that’s a mixed bag. I was classically trained; Russian composers are still my favorite. Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, probably because they are all so heavy and bombastic. Which segues into Black Sabbath, of course, and Judas Priest. My earliest guitar heroes were Ritchie Blackmore and jimmy Page, but after I saw Van Halen for the first time (opening for Black Sabbath in 1979) I had a moment of like, I quit! Ha-ha … it was just ironic that I became a singer because I never was fond of any female rock singers. Ann Wilson was the exception, I suppose.  

Other bands I love – Kate Bush, I really hope I get to work with her one day. Tears for Fears, Love & Rockets… so cool that David J plays on my record, that’s a rock and roll dream, come true! We also wrote a song and did a duet together… it’s awesome! And there’s a cool story behind it too. Total kismet! I also work with Victor DeLorenzo, the original drummer from the Violent Femmes. He and I co-produced my last record and he’s also a big part of this one. I was such a big Femmes fan in the early 80s, it’s such a trip getting to play with him. Victor is my musical soul mate!  

Sophia: You were in the epic LA Glam Metal band, Sacred Child, in the 1980s!  Do you have any "stand out" memories that you'd like to share from that rock 'n' roll chapter of your rock career?    

Astrid: Well, only that it was sheer luck and timing. I had been in LA about 4 weeks and auditioned for them, they were signed to a label (Target/Time coast) had just fired their male singer (David Reece) and I was in the studio re-recording Reece’s tracks right after that. it was a brutal situation, I was green, and the songs were—none of them were in a good key for me, so it was rough. I still can’t stand listening to that record, but it did exceedingly well. We charted in 10 countries! In 1987/88, you could not pick up a rock magazine that we weren’t in. I had the biggest hair in LA. That’s about it. It was a trip, but it was not altogether fun. But being in a hair band on the sunset strip in the 80s? That was cool, in retrospect, at least. We shared stages with Warrant, Poison, etc., so there’s that. I learned a lot about metal though… the genre is very rigid, so are the fans. If you step outside the boundaries, you’re opening yourself up to criticism. So, for me, someone who loves the blues, rock, punk, post-punk, disco, funk, all that—it was very weird. In my mind, music is music. If it moves you, you go with it. Metal is, I think, still kind of stuck in a rut that way. 

Sophia: Astrid, I heard that your brother, Neil, will be featured on your upcoming vinyl release. Can you share a little teaser?  

Astrid: Yeah, Neil played a harmonica solo on one of the tracks—it’s called Venison Tonight! It’s a fun song that’s kind of about all the &*%$ life throws at you and you just must get on with it. It started with a haiku … 

Deer in the headlights 

He never saw it coming. 

Venison tonight 

…so, it’s kind of like a murder ballad. Anyway, it’s awesome. And it’s the first time Neil’s played on MY stuff, i’ve played on plenty of his, so it was time to pay up! 

Sophia: What do you want to tell your fans about your upcoming album release?  

Astrid: Well, it was supposed to be a double-vinyl, but we’ve decided to split it into 2 records for various reasons. The release is a bit delayed because we now need to redo the artwork and to be honest, we have not even decided what we want to call it yet. Currently, we’ve narrowed it down to either SPACESHIP or HOW THE BEAUTIFUL GET AWAY WITH MURDER. They are both names of songs on the album. What do you think?   

Sophia: Artificial Intelligence is a hot, controversial topic!  Do you want to share any thoughts on AI and how you see it coexist in music as a creative process, and/or in the business of music production.  

Astrid: It will not end well. I am sure film and television studios are salivating at the prospect of not having to pay for soundtracks and sync licenses, but it’s just another thing to take away from music and art. The industry, such as it is, is in a death gasp right now. AI is just one more thing to hasten the inevitable. But really, I think people will know the difference. AI can’t fake emotion. It will never replace real bands, songs, artists. 

Sophia: Do you want to give a shout out to any of your endorsers and/or music production team?  

Astrid: I’d love to thank my good friend and tech, Ed Sculthorpe of Birch way Sound. He’s the best. I am also so jazzed I got to work with my long-time friend Tim Welch on this record, he’s an amazing guitar player and he does not get enough cred for his awesomeness. Also, my cousin Matt Davies played a lot of dobro on the record. It’s so great to have your family involved in things you care about.  

We didn’t talk about guitars much … 12-string is my thing, but I also play bass. My bass is a custom Lakland 5-string fretless with an unlined ebony neck.  

My main axe is a 12-string Larivee L-03-12R rosewood, tuned down a full step, and strung 13-56, octaves only on the bottom 2 strings, the rest are doubled up. The sound is super-fat, and I love it! My main amp is a GK 400-RBIII combo with 2 x 12s and I play both the Larivee and the Lakland through it—without changing any settings. Ed (my tech) hates the amp, but there’s nothing else that sounds like it. And it’s much more versatile (and portable) than an SVT ha-ha! 

Sophia: Thanks Astrid!  It's been an absolute blast!  You rock!




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