“[Being married] is really challenging me to go even deeper.” — Priscilla Ahn
ISSUE: Summer 2011
STORY: Jimmy Lee
Priscilla Ahn finds her happy place — and new songwriting fodder — in her latest album When You Grow Up.
Laurel Canyon is where the likes of Jim Morrison, Carole King and Joni Mitchell once lived, giving birth to songs that would fuel the 1960s and ’70s counterculture, and creating music that would help define the singer-songwriter. This seminal Los Angeles neighborhood is now the place Priscilla Ahn calls home, and being surrounded by that illustrious musical history is a source of inspiration for this chanteuse with the beguilingly breathy delivery. But there’s something amidst Laurel’s leafy confines that’s mucking up this American idyll for Ahn: her husband.
With the “happy place” she’s discovered with actor Michael Weston comes a different, albeit not unpleasant, set of problems. “Before, I always felt a little lost … not knowing my place,” says Ahn, who grew up in rural Pennsylvania with her Korean mother. “When I established that with my husband a couple of years ago, it actually became harder to write songs.”
Now she has a larger pool of experiences to draw upon when penning her compositions, more than just the “sad emotions” and the times “when I was feeling alone” she often turned to in the past. Ahn, who wed last year, says, “[Being married] is really challenging me to go even deeper.”
She’s struck a reserve of riches with her new album, When You Grow Up, as she explores multiple facets of folk music over its 12 tunes. Throughout her sophomore effort (released again on the iconic Blue Note label), Ahn’s bliss is pervasive. There’s even hope after a crushing break-up on “I Don’t Have Time To Be In Love.” (Alas, for the guys who so easily fall under the charm of Ahn’s disarming on-stage persona, the breakup that song is based on is not hers — it’s that of co-writer Charlie Wadhams.)
Ahn describes herself as a “homebody,” perfectly content to spend a Saturday night in Laurel Canyon, cooking, watching a movie, or following her blogs. “Mostly [the blogs] are about flowers, fashion, cooking and crafts. Those are the four things I’m really into; they inspire me so much,” says Ahn.
Then there’s her husband, who she’ll hang out with at a local Korean spa. And for the man who prepared Korean seaweed soup on the occasion of her birthday, she’s inspired to write lyrics like these: “You were my one and only/The only one I ever learned to love.”
— Jimmy Lee
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