Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs / Musician

Radical artist Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs has been an Osei-Duro homie for years now, cutting our hair, wearing our stuff on tour, in promo shots, all over the place. As we geared up to publish this interview we were thrilled to learn that she had just appeared in in our clothes on the new Twin Peaks! Dream come true!

What do you do? How did you get started?

I’m a musician, composer, choral director, and visual artist. I play in a band called Bouquet with Max Foreman, lead an amateur protest Community Chorus, and create choral-based performances based on historical and mythological figures, like Song of Eurydice (Orpheus and Eurydice), GORGON, and What Remains Will Never Burn (Joan of Arc).

In the mid 2000s I started writing songs on guitar and touring, and in 2012 I was able to go “freelance for life!”  

Carolyn in Osei-Duro. Photo: Annie Gimas

What do you love most about your work?

I love the putting all the parts together - in the writing process, the moment when the lyric finds the melody, and in performance when all the elements - staging/sound/lighting/movement - create a unique entity.

Where do you find inspiration?

My friends are huge motivators. Listening to music makes me want to make songs. Reading makes me want to write.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Most days I wake up and drink a big glass of water. I do a short meditation, ideally some stretches, breakfast, I try to do at least 5 calls a day to my member of congress, and then hit the studio.  At the studio I’m often working on a handful of projects at any given time, and I have band practice there a few times a week. I bring my dog, Matthew and take a few walk-breaks throughout the day. I usually get home around 9, eat, and get a little QT with my sweetheart, Ry, or meet up with a friend.

Describe your perfect day off.

I'd wake up with a song idea, and play around with no endgame in mind; do a woo - thing like tarot reading or psychic stuff; read on the grass at the Huntington Gardens; and then a brutal massage and robe it the rest of the day while reading on the couch till a Thai food delivery din with Ry and/or core bestie(s).

Carolyn in Osei-Duro. Photo: Courtenay Johnson

What advice do you have to offer someone who is just starting out?

This is cliche, but for real: If you love what you’re doing, keep at it, keep DOing IT - like, if you want to be a writer, WRITE; singer, SING, etc. (I know that sounds obvious but for a hard time I was thinking about making music more than I was actually playing), don’t be precious about your output, and avoid competitive vibes with your peers.

What are the top 3 places we should check out in your city?

Women’s Center for Creative Work, mecca vazie andrew’s The MOVEMENT movement class, Pieterspace

Is there any music you’re loving right now?

Hildegard Von Bingen, Mary Lou Williams, Gal Costa, David Lang, Jeff Parker, and Kate Bush’s more recent discography.

Recommend something to us!

Stretching before bed!

Also: Call Your Girlfriend, The Cooler, and Down for Whatever podcasts.

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