STURGEON BAY, WI – “40 musicians from across the country are getting together for the seventh annual songwriting project hosted by rockers pat mAcdonald and melaniejane at the Holiday Music Motel in Sturgeon Bay…. They’ll join much of mAcdonald’s ‘basic core of regulars,’ including acoustic musicians Mike Bleck and Elliot Goettelman, funk queen Kim Manning, alt-rocker Geri X, psychedelic bluesman Charles Boheme, one-woman choir Uno Lady, young indie musician Tarl Knight and others from a wide variety of musical genres.”
– Christopher Clough, Green Bay Press Gazette, October 29, 2015, full article
James Carlson, Examiner.com – “…Recently I had both the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Christa “Uno Lady” Ebert. The following is that interview in its entirety.
To begin, how about an introduction to Uno Lady?
My name is Christa Ebert and I perform as Uno Lady, a one-woman choir. I build songs using mainly my voice, a mixer, and a loop pedal. I started performing at various DIY venues in my hometown of Cleveland, OH in 2007.
Your music is rather unique, with very prominent vocals over a foundation of layered vocals, all of which is most comparable to experimental electro pop and atmospheric soundscapes. What inspired you to go this route as an artist?
New material is typically approached like a blank canvass. I create by building on top of sounds I find pleasing. I am the instrument, so unlike a singer/songwriter who uses a guitar, I am not limited to the parameters of chord progressions. At the same time, my music is shaped (and limited) by my capabilities. Most instruments are not within my current skill set so I make do with what I have.
I am not shooting for a particular sound. A beat or phrase pops in my head and I become mesmerized by it. My ears find places where my voice can fill-in the blanks. The songs usually reveal themselves as the layers and sounds expand. My hope is that my sound will grow with me as I learn new things and gain experience.
Amateur Hour, your latest release, which marks a decided personal and artistic evolution from your debut tape I Really Like Genetics But I’d Rather Have a Good Time, is only recently released. What did your songwriting and recording of these songs consist of?
I Really Like Genetics but I’d Rather Have a Good Time (2009) was me figuring out how to make it all work. Then there was the 7” Tacocat (2010) that features my first two looping creations- “Day Drinking” and “the Story of Everybody.”
I had performed and wrote sparsely in the years between those releases and Amateur Hour (2014) because I was awarded a scholarship to go back to school. The concept of Amateur Hour is about closing one chapter and moving forward. Half of it is material I was sitting on and wanted to finish, and the other half is new. Each side of the record has a different vibe. Side A is more playful and side B has an eerie feel.
I record everything myself in my home with a modest setup. The recording process was a determination whirlwind. I believe I spent 200+ hours recording in just over a month (in addition to working full-time). I was trying to get the record ready in time for tour, and I did with 1 day to spare! In the future, I want to be more true to my creativity and prioritize music more.
How has the Amateur Hour material been received so far?
Pretty great. I’ve had some nice articles and flattering compliments I wasn’t expecting. There were a few regional write-ups that put the record at the top of their favorite 2014 releases.
Do you have a favorite song, or songs, from the new album?
“Dear Wes Anderson, You Should Like This Song,” first known as “Temporary Waltz,” is about the best person you’ve never met, like an imaginary friend. Together you can fly and every moment is fantastic… but it isn’t real. It had such a whimsical yet melancholic feeling, I couldn’t help but be like, “This reminds me of a Wes Anderson film. I bet he’d like it.” and the name was born. I think some people assume the song is about him, but it isn’t. I’m not trying to be a creep, ha! The sound seemed compatible with his movies. Who knows, maybe his agent has Google alerts.
What have been some of your most memorable gig moments to date?
My recent release show at the Euclid Tavern in my hometown! People hollered so hard it startled me. I used to go to shows at the Euclid Tavern as a teenager. The place sat vacant for the most part until the Happy Dog, a local restaurant/music venue, decided to spruce up the place and reopen a second location there. My record release ended up being the first show there, so the place was packed with my favorite people. Nick Cross is a truly great musician; he and his brother perform as The Cross Brothers. Nick and Delaney Davidson, one of my favorite solo performers, played the song “Night Ride” with me on stage. The whole night was unreal.
In a one-man and one-woman band scene that is not just male dominated, there aren’t a lot of electronic artists, let alone vocal artists. In fact, you are the only one I can think of at present. Are you plugged into the one-man and one-woman band network, or do you consider yourself separate from that particular musical movement?
I’m on the weirdo outskirts of many musical genres. I consider other one-woman/ one-man bands comrades despite any musical differences. Being a one-person band is filling in the spaces using whatever you can. We are problem solvers, MacGyvers of the music world, creating sounds by any means necessary. We’re independent and determined individuals.
It is this underlying urge to create that drives us to make music, often in isolation. That’s where I feel we share common ground: Musical solitude. I have respect for other solo artists because making music on your own is tough!
Some of my favorite shows have been with other one-person bands. My recent record release tour was with Delaney Davidson, an extremely talented troubadour from New Zealand. At a one-man band festival in Denver back in 2009, I had the honor of opening for Reverend Beat Man, Reverend Deadeye, Two Tears (+ others). I wrote Alex Herbert, the organizer, a handwritten letter asking to be added to the bill. The festival wasn’t super packed with people but I did meet some of the most interesting performers, a few of whom I have stayed in contact with. I’m really glad it happened.
What’s next for Uno Lady? Any plans for shows, collaborations, songwriting, etc?
I have two recording ideas in the works. One of them is a Cleveland themed record, which will have a bunch of collaborations (and I’m pretty sure I am going to sample my friends pets for at least one song). I hope to go on a short tour May/June to NYC and surrounding areas, and up through the Midwest again in October.
Lastly, if there is anything I failed to cover, or anything you would like to express or discuss, please feel free to do so now. The floor is all yours.
Thank you, James, for your interest and taking the time to think of these considerate questions. I appreciate it.
I have a present for those who read this! I’d like to share that anyone can get the 2009 tape release ‘I Really Like Genetics but I’d Rather Have a Good Time’ for free and can download it here: http://unolady.com/download/
Nearly nine years ago I figured out how to turn ideas into compositions and started recording. Having strangers listen to and enjoy my music wasn’t really an expectation. It is flattering to say the least. I find it intriguing and rewarding that, in some way, my music can speak to others. Thanks for helping me spread the word!
By James Carlson, Examiner.com – “Cleveland indie singer/songwriter Christa Ebert, or Uno Lady, bills herself as a “one-woman choir,” and that is probably the most fitting description of what she is. That is to say, she is a one-woman choir insofar as her songs are born of the most human of instruments, the voice, in this case her voice, which she feeds through musical devices such as a microphone, small mixer and loop pedal. A minimalist endeavor, for sure, yet one that yields unexpected and impressive results: primary vocal tracks adorning layered vocals that act as the artistically interwoven threads with which the bodies of the songs are held firmly together.
On her latest album, Amateur Hour, in addition to her beautiful vocal deliveries and idiosyncratic soundscapes, Uno Lady incorporates lush, dreamy pop and psychedelic electro elements into her song structures here and there, and there are also compositions which feature the guitar playing and percussion of musician Nick Cross. And her efforts on Amateur Hour definitely show that she has evolved as an artist since her debut full-length album five years ago, I Really Like Genetics but I’d Rather Have a Good Time...”
Come to Brite Winter Festival February 21, 2015 in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood
By Rachel Hunt, CellarDoor – “One of the first times that I remember watching Uno Lady perform was at Now That’s Class in 2010. I fondly recall the Tacocat EP release show with Christa Ebert, Uno Lady as she is known to the audience, doing a quick costume change in the bathroom behind doors that would not latch, shuffling around the tight space to re-emerge as her alter-ego.
Taking her place on stage, Uno Lady appears as a priestess addressing clergy members, tucked behind a technology-laced altar, she sings a doctrine that Clevelanders can readily get behind. Watching her perform live is an entrancing experience. Her operatic register and looping melodies reach deep into the crowd’s bones, sending goose bumps pleasurably coursing through the skin (this is an actual phenomenon).
Uno Lady has been hard at work since I saw her last. She released Amateur Hour in October at The Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, one of the first performers to christen the rejuvenated venue. The album was immediately appealing to me, from the first time I heard “5 Minute Guided Meditation” broadcast over college radio airwaves. The guided meditation sounds similar to calming recitations by Laurie Anderson on Big Science; poignant in its delivery and laugh out loud funny in content.
Part of the draw of Uno Lady is her raw power and confidence. In a music scene disproportionately represented by men, Uno Lady has always acted as a sole experimental female musician since 2007, a time when even less women were making music in Cleveland (or so it seems to me.) She embodies a metaphorical beacon of light to other women in the community. Ebert retains her feminine posture and graceful delivery throughout the new record while still commanding attention with each hook and pun-filled refrain.
Here are a few questions we were able to ask her before her performance at Brite Winter Fest:
Uno Lady is experimental in nature and a bit unorthodox considering how most Top 40 music is made. How do you manage to keep your music accessible for listeners despite it being unconventional in its conception?
That is a good question to which I have a confusing answer for: a person listening was an unintended, yet welcome, consequence that has helped shape how I write. I am wholeheartedly flattered people listen and I’m learning the musical hoops to becoming more accessible: getting a website, figuring out how to be on iTunes, putting out records. When I first started recording, I did not consider I would be playing shows a year later. My goal was shortsighted and didn’t go beyond recording for fun.
What artists have inspired you to take the route you have in your music?
Roy Orbison, Laurie Anderson, DEVO, earlier Coco Rosie to name a few.
You recently received a Prestigious Workforce Fellowship in 2014 that funded the making of “Amateur Hour”. Did earning the fellowship change the way you approached the writing of the record or making music?
I am so grateful for the fellowship. It will change my life for the better for many years to come. It reaffirmed I should make music and that I should take the time to develop my skills. It allowed me to buy things I needed to complete recordings. Literally everything I was using was slightly broken. It also allowed me to get help and pay people with fair wages rather than lasagna. I have used home cooking as a form of currency in the past.
The fellowship also gave me access to tools I did not have prior. There were these Creative Capital seminars that have tips on marketing, etc. It helped me step up my game in areas I am modest about. I did spend 90% of the funds within Cuyahoga County, as promised. All three pieces of my fellowship application are online. I did that to be transparent with my plan and so people could see an example of a fellowship application in case they wanted to apply. I am in the process of finishing my final fellowship report. I’ll publish the results on my website when I am finished.
How do you come up with the names for your songs?
All sorts of ways! Sometimes they name themselves: they describe the weird feelings the sound provokes i.e. “Disney Movie on Acid,” or can repeat a lyric i.e. “Day Drinking”; sometimes they have a revolving door of names. What was now “Dear Wes Anderson, You Should Like This Song” was “Temporary Waltz”, and in some cases, I don’t care about the name, want to get it over with and focus on the lyrics.
You are not a classically trained vocalist, yet you have an amazing voice that you use as a tool to make music. Was it ever intimidating for you to perform live, knowing that you may have not had the same experience as your peers?
Thanks for the kind words! Performing is intimidating for sure. I get butterflies in my stomach every show. I’m on display, almost asking for criticism as I share my feelings put to song. It can make you feel really vulnerable, however, I know it is impossible to grow by loitering in my comfort zone. In order to gain new knowledge and develop as a human being, you have to challenge yourself. I can’t allow anxiety to dictate my capabilities.
Although I am not trained I have probably spent thousands of hours singing. I may not know how to sight-read or which note is C, but I do have strong muscle memory. I want to continue to grow musically so with the last bit of fellowship funds I secured some lessons.
How were you able to teach yourself what sounds you were able to make?
I have always been a little bit of a parrot and mimicked sounds.
Tell me a little bit about your recent tour with Delaney Davidson. Why wait as long as you did to tour? What took you to Wisconsin and Minnesota specifically?
I met Delaney at an international one-man-band festival in Denver, CO, on my first tour in 2009. This was, I believe, his ninth trip to the US. He contacted me to see if I wanted to join him for this part of his visit. He was all over the place prior to the Midwest.
We ended up in Wisconsin and Minnesota because the goal was to be around Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin on Halloween for a songwriting event called “Dark Songs.” Located at the Holiday Music Motel, the event invites select musicians to stay for a week, be randomly paired into songwriting groups, and record and perform what was created. It was amazing. I am so stoked I was invited. It was the first time in my life I spent a whole week focused only on music – not working, not going to school – working on my own missions rather than working for others. It was surreal.
Regarding the hiatus – Shortly after the 2009 tour, I received a full scholarship to finish school. I had to reshuffle my priorities for an amazing academic opportunity, and I missed making music daily. In 2012, I graduated top of my class with an undergraduate degree in Urban Studies and was able to finish my Masters degree of Public Administration in May 2013. I started working full-time only three days after graduating. I applied for the fellowship July of 2013, was named a 2014 fellow, and here we are today. Time flies! I may have not been touring but I sure as heck was busy! Also, planning and booking a tour is a lot of work and takes months to do. Like other things, it just kept getting put on the back burner because I was so busy.
What is the most difficult part of being an artist, in your opinion?
Finding time! Making art a priority when you are an adult who has bills to pay and has to work full-time in a world that undervalues creativity. It is easy for it to be placed on a back burner – but it is important to remind yourself (myself) that if you are an artistic person, you have to nurture that side of you. It’s a necessary form of meditation. And when you are true to that part of you, it can help you become a better person and do a better job in other aspects of your life. I have to remind myself that all the time.”
By Jeff Niesel, Cleveland Scene – “Straight Outta the Living Room: Uno Lady, who counts Roy Orbison, Laurie Anderson, Freddie Mercury, Mary Ford… as her influences, played her first show at Pat’s in the Flats in 2007 and has been a steady force on the local scene ever since. “I went from recording in my living room with no plans beyond that, to being asked to play shows, and slowly learned how to perform live,” she says.
Lotsa Loops: Since she manipulates her upper register voice by sampling it and mixing it with a number of loops, the live show has been a tricky proposition…. “There have been a good amount of developments as well as simplifications,” she says when asked about the live performance. “My genius friend Ian Charnas is helping me construct a new podium out of a vintage suitcase. In addition, to a bunch of new songs, I have a new loop pedal that has some fancy buttons. Other than that, I like to keep it simple: My voice, a loop pedal, and a mixer.”
Why You Should Hear Her: Her new album, Amateur Hour, commences with “Dear Wes Anderson (You should Hear This Song),” an atmospheric tune characterized by soft vocals that make it sound like a veritable choir is singing. It’s one of the more unique albums you’ll ever hear. “I wanted to take unfinished songs that were worth finishing, re-record and fine tune them, and couple those with a new material,” she says of the new album. “It is meant to be a sort of wrap up, an ending of a chapter. Another thing I am excited about — this is the first Uno Lady release featuring other artists. I was lucky enough to have the Cross Brothers [from the local indie rock group Little Bighorn] lend their musical talents on a few of the tracks.”
Greenbay Press Gazette – “The Tambourine Lounge at the Holiday Music Motel hosts a pair of unique house shows in the next week… Delaney Davidson and Uno Lady perform separately as a one-man and one-woman band at 7 p.m. Oct. 22.
Although a native of New Zealand, Davidson is truly more of a citizen of the world. In constant motion, Davidson’s touring schedule is relentlessly nonstop, including several June appearances in Sturgeon Bay for Steel Bridge Songfest. It’s a mystery where he finds the time to continue to produce a growing arsenal of albums, artwork and cinematic music videos.
Winner of the New Zealand Music Award (its version of a Grammy Award) for Best Country Album in 2013, Davidson’s latest release, “Swim Down Low,” features co-writing credits with Victoria Williams, Eric McFadden and James Hall from Steel Bridge Songfest’s collaborative songwriting “Construction Zone.” Known worldwide as a premier one-man band, Davidson is said to be more like a one-man machine in concert and in the studio.
Uno Lady, aka Christa Ebert of Cleveland, creates her shockingly great variety of grooves, colors and styles using nothing more than her voice, a looper, small mixer and microphone. She not only makes this multi-dimensional sound in a studio a multitude of individual tracks for layering (as heard on her recent release, “Amateur Hour”), she also creates that sound live. Uno Lady is a one-woman choir, with a high, clear voice that she accompanies with more of her own voice, prerecorded on tapes and played and looped as she performs.”
Green Bay Press Gazette – The annual “Dark Songs” songwriting and concert event hosted by the Holiday Music Motel will have 11 additions of “fresh blood” this year.
“Dark Songs” gathers songwriters and musicians together at the motel to collaboratively write songs with a theme appropriate for Halloween or other dark, morbid ideas, then record and perform them live…. this will be their first experience with collaboratively writing, recording and performing in one of the motel’s fully immersive, weeklong songwriting marathons.
Christa Ebert of Cleveland, aka Uno Lady, will be an eclectic addition with her looping talents and vocal abilities, while Julia McConahay of Madison will provide vocals and a wide range of violin stylings. …Bass player Patrick Kelly of Atlanta got involved on the recommendation of fellow Atlantan rocker James Hall, one of The Holiday’s most dedicated songwriting event attendees….
Other rookie participants are Sugar Ransom of Milwaukee, Susan Howe of Appleton and Barrett Tasky of Chicago, all of whom possess a wide range of talents that will add to the darkly themed “Dark Songs” stew. Tasky, who is proficient at a multitude of instruments, will also run one of the four operational studios.
This year’s “Dark Songs” concerts take place at Third Avenue Playhouse, 239 N. Third Ave., Sturgeon Bay. The Oct. 31 show starts at 10:30 p.m., immediately follows TAP’s 7:30 screening of “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and the second concert is at 7 p.m. Nov. 1. Tickets are $5 for each. For more information, go to www.holidaymusicmotel.com/darksongs.
By Anastasia Pantsios,COOL Cleveland – “Christa Ebert calls herself Uno Lady when she performs, a hint that she creates all her music by herself using only her voice as the raw material. With just a microphone and a mixer that loops her vocals, she produces clouds of lush, layered sound that refer to familiar pop themes and lyrics but utterly transform them. Jaunty melodies and catchy phrases pile up into towering edifices that are startling in their grandeur, considering their modest building blocks.
It’s hard to even tell if she has a highly trained voice or the girlish voice of an engagingly uncertain amateur; her delivery can be in turn knowing and wide-eyed, while she alternately buries a phrase by multiplying it or strips away everything to lay it bare in all its vulnerable nakedness.
Ebert released a tape almost exactly five years ago called I Really Like Genetics But I’d Rather Have a Good Time, followed by Tacocat in 2010.Back then she was in the early stages of exploring the striking and confident music she makes now. She hasn’t been too speedy about getting a new release out because she’s been business with work and school, like many of us. But when she landed a Creative Workforce Fellowship from the Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, it gave her the wherewithal to synthesize her evolving ideas into a new recording, a full-length album (available in vinyl and CD) called Amateur Hour.
She says, ‘If it wasn’t for the fellowship, this would have taken another 10 years to make. Instead I am already working on the planning stages for the next record.’
That is a reason to rejoice. Meanwhile, she’ll celebrate the release of Amateur Hour at the Euclid Tavern at a show also featuring New Zealand country singer/songwriter Delaney Davidson and Cleveland surf/garage rockers the Shale Satans. ”
By Laura DeMarco, The Plain Dealer – “Usually, the music lessons come before the records — and the shows.
Not in the case of Uno Lady, aka Christa Ebert, one of the most unique talents to emerge in the Cleveland music scene in the last five years.
Uno Lady is a vocalist – and then some. She’s a one-woman choir, with a beautiful high clear voice that she accompanies with more of her own voice, prerecorded on tapes and played and looped as she performs live….
The album even contains some conventional instrumentation, with guitars and drums from brothers Nick and Tony Cross, of Little Bighorn.
On Saturday, Ebert will celebrate the release of “Amateur Hour” with a show at the new Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, with Delaney Davidson and Shale Satans. Unlike her past releases, which are now available as free downloads on her site (unolady.com), it’s available on both vinyl, pressed at Cleveland’s own Gotta Groove Records, and CDs from Parma’s A to Z Audio.”