While we usually profile artists living and working on the Island in this column, we’ve taken a detour this week to talk to a woman who, though she may not live here, or have been born here, carries the Island with her everywhere she goes. Lexie Roth calls herself a “washashore transplant.” Her family started coming to the Island because her father, Arlen Roth, was playing guitar with Kate Taylor in the 70's. The family fell in love with the Island and returned every summer to a rented house Aquinnah until they finally were able to buy a home of their own there.
When she wasn’t on the Island, Roth was in South Salem, NY and from there she went on to Hampshire College and the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in Chelsea, NYC.
Roth has been surrounded by music her whole life. Her father is legendary as both a guitarist and a guitar teacher. He has worked with Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Levon Helm, and Ry Cooder to name a few.
Roth’s mother and older sister were killed in a car accident in 1998 and the surviving father and daughter became even closer and have worked together musically for years.
Currently, Roth lives in Brooklyn, NY surrounded by many other Island transplants. She has just finished recording a new self-titled album made up of 11 original tracks all written by Roth. It features a full cast of Island musicians: Sam Mason on Drums, Nina Violet on bass and backup vocals, Matthew Cullen as engineer and on accompanying guitar and noise. Her father also plays some lead guitar.
“It has some country influence, folk, rock, psychedelic, and whatever else you think. Honestly I'd like to create a genre called "Combo-salad" because I feel like it’s so hard to put myself in a category.”
Roth has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign that ends on April 12th. She hopes to raise enough money to print both CDs and vinyl. As with all Kickstarter campaigns, Roth has to raise the full $5,000 she needs or she gets nothing. At press time, she had over $3000 in pledges.
We were able to catch up with Roth in Brooklyn to learn more about how the Island has influenced her as a person and a musician - and find out when she’s coming home.
When did you know you wanted to be a singer/songwriter/performer?
I grew up in an extremely musical and artistic household and ever since I came out of the womb I've been singing, performing, writing in some way shape or form. It's second nature to me; I've always known this is what I want to do.
What do you do there other than sing/record?
I am a server at a wonderful restaurant called The Dutch owned by famous chef Andrew Carmellini, and do some private cooking gigs on the side.
Do you sing/perform in Brooklyn?
Yes. I have an upcoming record release show on April 14th at Rockwood Music Hall in the lower east side of NYC.
Who is on heavy rotation for you right now?
Right now, Townes Van Zandt, Beach House, Austra, Patsy Cline, Mazzy Starr, always Stevie Wonder.
What about growing up on the Island influenced the musician you are today?
Having Martha's Vineyard in my life has shaped everything about me. It's my place to write and be one with my thoughts, have clarity. Also I have been inspired by playing with fellow friends/musicians/songwriters and residents of this magical island who are incredibly talented. To name a few, Willy Mason, Jemima James, Nina Violet, Sam Mason, Marciana Jones, Colin Ruel, and Meredith Sheldon. The Island is incredibly supportive of each other’s music and that's what makes it such a natural place to create.
What do you miss most about the Island when you're not here?
EVERYTHING. I miss the air, the stars, the water. Recognizing every car/truck as they go by. Cookouts. Fresh fish. Hearing nothing but the roar of the waves when I go to sleep and mourning doves in the morning. Eating oysters at . North Road's trees that canopy the road. Getting milk and yogurt. My friends that are there. Spring peepers. Blackberries and wineberries.
Where is your favorite place to go swimming?
Who's got the best fried clams?
Where on the Island do you go to get you out of a bad mood?
Anywhere my friends are. A sunset on Flat Point Farm, or for a long walk on Philbin.
Where do you get inspiration for your songs?
From all over. Travel, different places I've lived. People that have touched my life in some way shape or form. Certain experiences and loss I've been through can really only be expressed through song, writing music is my therapy.
What else is exciting in your life right now?
I'm on the upcoming Les Paul Tribute Album coming out in the next few months singing Vaya Con Dios, the beautiful Mary Ford and Les Paul song from the 50's alongside Keith Richards, Jose Feliciano, Slash, Steve Miller, my father Arlen Roth and many other greats. And my new release is right around the corner on April 14th! I'll make sure to make a trip to the island with a bunch to put in Aboveground Records (my favorite record store). Also go out and get Maria My love the new Jasmine McGlade movie featuring Karen Black with my song Call You My Hon on the soundtrack!
Roth’s Album, Lexie Roth will be released on April 14th. To visit her Kickstarter page, click here.