By Michael Heller
Singer/songwriter Inda Eaton found her way to the East End 10 years ago after spending the majority of her life living in southern California, Arizona and Wyoming. She is a child of parents who always wanted her to be a musician — which never seemed to be a question (“I just knew,” she says.)
MH: So, coming from Wyoming and the West, how did you end up here in Amagansett?
IE: My music manager at the time was in New York, so I would come to New York quite a bit for music, and it was through friends and connections that I would come out here to visit. I went to school in Boston — I went to BU to study journalism — so I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the east; but I really didn’t know about Amagansett or East Hampton. In fact the first time I came I was completely shocked—I didn’t even tune into my “Great Gatsby” history lesson of the Hamptons; I really didn’t come here with any stars in my eyes at all, I was just coming to visit, and I was really utterly surprised in the most pleasant of ways. Growing up in the West anyway I could never have stereotyped that a place so close to New York City—which is like Gotham City—would have so much beauty.
MH: The Hamptons are not the hotbed of the music industry like Los Angeles, New York or Nashville, yet after 10 years you’ve stayed here. What has kept you here, even though it may have been harder for your career?
IE: The reason I was able to dig my heels in was because I did some voice-overs and I did some music-computer interactives for the children’s museum when it was being built, so that was the first reason to be here: “This is a project I can do.” I wasn’t even thinking that this would be my final resting spot; I’m here for this project. And then some other opportunities opened up, one after the other, and I thought to myself, “Hmmm, I think I’ll get more involved in the production side.”
There are some really great people out here. You can’t throw a rock out here without running into somebody who writes or makes music. That’s been very stimulating and interesting to me. And not only their work, but the camaraderie of it, the music community. I travel a lot; I go back and forth between the West, I do a lot of education work. I do a lot of playing. But somehow when I come back here, I feel very nurtured. The music scene, the music community…I think the landscape lends itself to some major creativity that’s probably beyond what I can even articulate. I know it’s obvious when we talk about visual art, and how that can happen through color and light and landscape, but I think it’s often overlooked when we talk about music as well. I couldn’t articulate to you right now, at the kitchen table, how I think that’s changed my writing, but I know that it has.
And I think there’s an edge, I think on Long Island, the history of rock and roll on Long Island is huge, and there’s a tremendous contribution to rock and roll in edginess from Long Island. You would think that that wouldn’t be out here because it is so calm, and everything out here is so “chill,” but having said that I think our year-round community… we give that appearance in our flip-flops, but I don’t know of anybody out here who doesn’t have to figure out some way to exist; maybe that’s the edge. We’re in our flip-flops, but we’re all clinging on to our reserves to figure out how to stay in this beauty. This is not a place where you can go work at the plant, or have abundant work, really; you really make your own existence here, and it has to be a very creative existence. And I don’t know of anybody out here—in the arts or not—who doesn’t have to think twice or three times how to pull their act together to put food on the table…maybe that’s the edge. Amidst all this beauty, we’re trying to develop our own situation.
Interestingly enough, if you ever get invited to a benefit you should go, they’re great shows. They’re great shows because different musicians come together who maybe don’t play together often, and all of a sudden this party happens. But if you looked around and said, “How are these musicians pulling this off?” you really don’t want to ask them that; the reality is that it’s scary. You wouldn’t want to look at their ledger sheets; their ledger sheets don’t balance, really. You want to talk about the leap of faith? I know that’s in every artistic community, but it’s comical, because here we’re doing the benefits, and the truth is we could be having a benefit once a month for all of the brothers and sisters in music. And I think that’s the edge, I really do. That’s the edge.