36, singer-songwriter/guitarist/founder of Right On Records
New Buryport, MA
Fiercely emotional rocker Melissa Ferrick has been a celebrated singer-songwriter since bursting onto the music scene in 1991. She came out early in her career and helped pave the way for the current wave of successful out artists. Natalia Zuckerman is a highly acclaimed soulful folk artist, who has recently released her third album. As constantly touring solo musicians, this pair faces many challenges keeping their relationship grounded. Yet, they always come home to each other, to the place that is “us.”
Last year, we introduced our first ever Captivating Couple of the Year, Daniela Sea (The L Word) and B (aka Bitch). Still going strong, these out icons asked to start yet another tradition with GO for 2007. Passing the torch, they have interviewed this year’s featured couple: musicians Melissa Ferrick and Natalia Zukerman. Here, we present excerpts from these friends’ candid conversation.
B: Hey gays! Ok, so will you tell us how you met?
Natalia: A few years back I went to see friends of mine play at the Bottom Line in New York.
Melissa: She was late, first of all.
Natalia: Anyway, I walked in and I had never seen Melissa before. I didn’t even know she was on the bill. I was just trying to navigate the space and I asked these people to move over a little bit and there was a little hustle and bustle and Melissa from the stage turns to where I was sitting and goes, “Shut the fuck up!”
Melissa: The girl that I shut up, six years later, is my girlfriend.
Daniela: So officially that was how you met?
Natalia: We met officially at Folk Alliance.
Melissa: I went to see Rachael Sage and there was this girl sitting with a guitar on her lap. I know it’s really retarded—but it was totally love at first sight. I was just like, “Oh my God. Who is that?” And then she played and I was like “Oh my God, and she’s amazing.” Then I went up and introduced myself.
Natalia: No you didn’t. [laughs] Everybody else had left and Melissa came up to me. And I said, “Hey I’m Natalia,” and she didn’t say her name. Someone said “Do you know that’s Melissa Ferrick?” And I was like, “No, I didn’t know that—and what an asshole for not introducing herself.” Like, am I just supposed to know who she was?
Melissa: I don’t assume that people know who I am. But I get really nervous when I’m around people. Especially if I think they’re cute.
Natalia: The fact that she was so nervous put me at ease. I went the opposite way. I was like “What’s up, dude?”
Melissa: So I ended up getting her email address from a friend of ours and I emailed her, and then somehow I gave you my phone number.
B: And so then you had developed a kind of phone relationship?
Natalia: Yeah, we started talking about playing together. Then we realized that a couple of weeks had gone by where we were talking every single day for four hours a day.
Melissa: We did that for like four months before we had our first date.
B: No way! So you took it slow?
Melissa: Yeah, I mean as slow as you can take it as a lesbian, you know.
B: How is it, both of you being on the road so much? That’s something I’m really interested in.
Daniela: We have to deal with this all the time.
Natalia: It sucks and it’s wonderful. We get to really miss each other and every time we get back it’s like this honeymoon phase, but it’s having a long-distance relationship all the time, even though we live in the same house.
Melissa: It’s not going to change. I’m gonna continue to tour and I’m gonna continue to be gone, so the question is, “Who do I want to play cards with when I’m 80?” Am I willing to be this person’s best friend and partner and go to any lengths to really expose myself? We’re almost at two years now—and I think that that’s right when this kind of stuff starts to happen.
Daniela: What about your creative processes—have they changed since you met each other?
Natalia: We’re both very, very, very, very private about our processes. I can’t even write when she’s in the house. I have a hard time.
B: No kidding.
Natalia: I notice that it happens for both of us that as soon as the other one’s away, songs come out. I think that’s part of finding our rhythm at home together. She’d be writing or playing and I’d be painting or something like that. We had a little art factory going on last winter.
Daniela: But you don’t necessarily wanna be like, “Ok, what should I do with this next bridge?”
Melissa: Oh my god, no… But when we do get to work together it’s great. I know you guys did that Shortbus thing.
Daniela: We play together sometimes, too.
B: And Daniela, before she started doing The L Word, would come on tour with me, which was super fun.
Melissa: That’s when I first met you guys, at Columbus Pride or whatever it was.
Daniela: No. Before Columbus Pride we stayed at your house in P-Town when we were first falling in love.
B: Remember how you were talking about how we were always cooking beans?
Melissa: And rice. You guys were fucking heating up rice and putting it on your stomachs and shit.
B: No, that was the salt!
Melissa: Oh, salt, right.
B: That’s an ancient witchy trick that Daniela taught me. You heat up salt for menstrual cramps and you put it on your stomach.
Melissa: [sarcastically] Yeah, cause that works.
Natalia: God, Melissa. I’m the hippie.
Melissa: Yeah, Natalia is a total hippie, it’s so great.
B: Oh, I love you already.
Melissa has a new album called In The Eyes of Strangers. You can catch her at Southpaw in Brooklyn on February 16th. Natalia is planning to release a new record in the fall and she’ll be playing at Mo Pitkins on March 15th.