I am a writer, drummer, and Northwestern University advisor, lecturer, and faculty-member-in-residence. I write a monthly column for Paste Food, interviewing musicians about eating on the road and at home, and my food memoir, Red Velvet Underground, is forthcoming on Agate in October 2015. I was a founding member of the Boston band the Blake Babies, with Juliana Hatfield, and have since played with Antenna, The Mysteries of Life, Gentleman Caller, and Some Girls, among other bands. At Northwestern University I advise students in Radio/TV/Film and I teach a seminar in Communication Studies titled, "Food, Communication, and Culture." As a faculty-member-in-residence, I mull apple cider every Sunday night for 200 undergraduates.
Part memoir, part cookbook, Red Velvet Underground tells the story of how Smith’s indie-rock past evolved into her domestic present—and how food played a significant role in both.
Freda Love was a 19-year-old college dropout who’d escaped Indiana for Boston when she became the drummer for The Blake Babies in 1989. Twenty-five years later, she’s the suburban mother of two teenaged sons, teaching at a prestigious university, and thinking about restarting her last band, the Mysteries of Life. Her oldest is getting ready to head to college, and she realizes one of the best things she can do for him is teach him to cook.
Red Velvet Underground tells the story of how Smith's indie-rock past evolved into her domestic present. Loosely framed around cooking lessons she gives her older son, her story moves back and forward in time as she recollects how she got started in music, and how her career in rock eventually dovetailed with her passion for cooking and, later, the growth of her family. The book intersperses forty-five recipes with personal stories about her music career, cooking, eating, and family.
Throughout, she reflects on how food and music have intersected throughout her life, from the time The Smiths’ ?Meat is Murder” inspired her to become vegetarian, to vigorously beating dough at her college bakery job to The Velvet Underground, to seeing her musician son through his one-month experiment with veganism.
As she compares her son's experiences to her own, Smith plumbs the deeper meanings behind the role of cooking in her life, her experiences starting and playing in different bands (in one of which?Antenna?she met her future husband, Jake Smith), going on the road, and pursuing work in and out of music as she raises her sons.
Smith tells her story with characteristically Midwestern warmth and grace. Red Velvet Underground is a charming exploration of the ways food and music have informed identity through every stage of one woman’s life.