An interview / show preview by Kim Mellen that appeared in the January 22-28, 1999 issue of the Austin Chronicle…
Edith Frost, Lullaby for the Working Class, Knife in the Water
Emo’s, Saturday 23
Rooted somewhere in the Midwest, there’s a vast family tree growing from the mulch of Nineties indie rock. Its branches are surnamed experimental, post-rock, shoegazer, and otherwise pruned-down sparse-rock too young to be named, composed of the members of Tortoise, Gastr del Sol, Palace, and a gazillion others. Recently alit on its gnarled, inbred branches is Chicago songbird Edith Frost, who can’t believe how her former nest of Austin, which she left early this decade, has grown. Her openness and excitement about this and every topic belies the often turbid waters of her musical gene pool.
"It blows my mind every time I go back because the landmarks are different." She gets nostalgic, angry even, over the passing of downtown’s neon Terminix bug, and Club Foot, then catches herself, lest she sound too old-fogeyish. "But there’s some things that never change — like Toy Joy. You can’t go home again, really. Austin’s gotten so huge."
Frost and posse galloped through Emo’s last year for an intimate Mother’s Day gig (with proud Mama Frost in the audience), her subtly sweet, never-saccharine vocals blowing over the stark, wintry soundscapes, convincing you she means every word of her high-lonesome songs. In fact, with 1997′s Calling Over Time, backed by the Drag City supergroup of David Grubbs, Jim O’Rourke, and others, and last October’s release of the warmer, noisier Telescopic, that Frosty voice is becoming more and more in demand among her cross-pollinating contemporaries, evidenced by an ever-growing list of collaborations including Songs:Ohia, the Willard Grant Conspiracy, Archer Prewitt (Coctails, the Sea and Cake), the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, and the Boxhead Ensemble.
"I really love helping people out that way; it’s so much fun and so rewarding," gushes Frost when asked about her burgeoning résumé. "People find out about you who wouldn’t have otherwise. I don’t really have to do anything but show up and sing, and I get all these props for it, not money-wise — at all — but the feeling, ‘Yes. I’m so psyched I got to be a part of that.’"