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Tristan Prettyman

Enjoying the success of her second album, the 25-year-old singer/songwriter gives MF the lowdown on growing up as a California beach babe.

MF: How did you get into playing music?

TP: Well, sort of by accident. I've always loved music. When I was about 14 or 15, my brother's friend gave me an Ani DiFranco mix tape and it really struck me as something I hadn't heard before. It inspired me — her writing's really poetic. It's very different from anything mainstream that I had heard growing up. We had an extra guitar in the guest room of our house, and I had a thought one day that it might be cool to try to learn to play. So over the course of five years I started teaching myself and eventually began to write songs.

MF: This is your second album. How is Hello a reflection of you?

TP: People always told me that the 20s are a part of your life when you discover who you are and what you're about. I think in the last two years that has definitely happened. When the first record came out, I was still just a girl visiting her friends in college, working at a pizza shop, and going to junior college when I didn't really want to be there. My parents were actually the ones that said I should play music and hold off on school because music seemed to hold my focus better. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I just figured I'd go with it and see what happens. Once I put the record out, I was on tour for two and half years and when I finally got home, I took a break for about a year. I moved out of my parents' house and got out of my first serious relationship. I just really grew up.

MF: So is your music autobiographical? Would someone who knew you and heard the record recognize your story?

TP: It's autobiographical, but every song holds seven different meanings. A lot of people assume that this record is about my ex, but it's not at all. For me, this record is exactly who I am. It's a mirror reflection. Every song represents a different one of my personalities.

MF: How was the tour this time around?

TP: A lot of the shows sold out even before my record came out. It had been almost two years since I've toured, so I didn't know what to expect. And you wonder if you do a headlining tour, will anyone show up? But the shows were packed and people were really excited and reacting really well to the new stuff.

MF: So when you are on tour, do you do anything to keep in shape?

TP: It's funny because when I'm home I have a trainer. I usually train twice a week and I'm at the gym five days a week or I'll go on walks. I live in a coastal community in San Diego, so I'm always active when I'm home, but when I'm on the road, there's never any time. Working out for me on tour is wearing heels on stage and moving around as much as I can and eating as healthy as possible.

MF: You're touted as this surfer girl gone musical. How long have you been surfing?

TP: I've been surfing since my dad taught me when I was 12. My whole family goes on surf outings together. I surf all the time.

MF: Did you ever model for the Roxy label?

TP: Yeah, Roxy came to my high school when I was 15 and held a contest to pick two girls to be models. I ended up being one of the girls, but it was very short lived. Then I went to Europe and ate a lot of croissants and I wasn't a swimsuit model anymore (Laughs). I found that I was more of a creative type.

MF: What do you look for in a man?

TP: I used to date guys who didn't surf and I'd bring them home and my dad would just look at them funny. So they have to surf and be mellow. I'm usually all over the place so they have to be able to go out to a nice dinner one night and go to an event, but also be able to go camping the next night.

MF: Did you get started on Myspace or did you do it the old fashioned way?

TP: I did it the old fashioned way. I didn't ever play a lot of coffee shops, but where I grew up there is a bunch of little clusters of beach communities with cafes and restaurants, I played at a lot of those and at the local club. I started opening for bands who were coming through town and needed an opener, playing battle of the bands and that sort of thing, I was invited to go out on tour with G Love and Special Sauce and Howie Day and from then on, I just never stopped touring.

MF: How would you describe your sound?

TP: It sounds like me! My brother always says, "You are the same on-stage as you are off-stage. Your personality stays the same, always, no matter what." I also get Edie Brickell a lot and sometimes Rickie Lee Jones, which is a big compliment.

MF: So what are you listening to these days for inspiration?

TP: We've been listening to Journey - Live in Houston 1981. It's pretty amazing. I travel with my brother and my two band members, so they pretty much rule the stereo in my van. We listen to Tom Petty, Neil Young, and Wilco. Wilco is always amazing and pretty timeless.

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