October 24, 2010

Amy Bezunartea turns serving into art with 'Restaurants and Bars'

The lovely and talented Amy Bezunartea will be releasing her debut album Nov. 2 on Brooklyn-based Kiam Records (a label founded by the equally lovely and talented Jennifer O'Connor). "Music? I thought this was a blog about waitressing!" you might be saying. And you're right. But Amy's album, called Restaurants and Bars, is quite pertinent to the plight of the female food service worker. Amy spent years waiting tables (in fact, she still does), and she's managed to do what I've tried to with the zines and blogs, and what I hope all former service industry people eventually can: to turn her FFSW experiences - good and bad - into a source of creative inspiration.

Amy was kind enough to answer some questions about her service industry experience and her music for us. Make sure to support her by buying Restaurants and Bars - check out the player after the Q+A to stream the title track if you'd like a sneak peek (Kiam also has a couple free downloads from it on their blog).

SMBHBD: Tell us about your history working in food service. Which came first, the music or the desire to write about the subject matter?
Amy Bezunartea: I already played music when I started working in the service industry.  I think writing about work just sort of happened naturally.  Working in restaurants was all I did for so long and it was all my friends did and all we talked about- who worked where, how much money they made.... So it just sort of seeped into my songwriting.

Do you still work in the service industry now that your music is at the forefront? 
I still work as a waitress.  I have tried many times to get out of it, but restaurant work always saves me.  I'm able to work less than I did when I was younger and supplement my income with other odd jobs and music, but 2 or 3 nights a week I am still running around waiting on people.

It seems like people who work in bars and restaurants many times are also
writers, artists and musicians. Do you think there's something inherent that draws creative people to this industry?
I do.  It's not a conventional world or way of life.  It allows a lot of flexibility and freedoms that a regular job does not. There's also a lot of fast money to be made in restaurants, so people can move, travel, make records, take the winter off, buy fancy clothes, etc....

What sort of specific topics about the industry does Restaurants and Bars address?
Well,  it's a rough job and you can really get stuck in that world.  It's hard to break out of and into something else and you're not really working your way up any sort of ladder.You just get older and more beat up.

What positive effects do you think working in food service has on a 
creative person?
The nature and the pace of the work leads to all kinds of odd and hilarious situations.  Waiting on people is so fascinating.  It's a great opportunity to observe types of people and how they act.  It's also a job that you can move from city to city and do.  You can travel, do more of it, or less of it.  It's a good tool in that way.

What is your worst experience from working in food service?
Worst?  I currently work at a German beer hall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn 
and I've never really experienced anything like it before. I've worked I've worked there for almost a year and I've seen enough vomit to last me a lifetime! People vomiting into their beer mugs, on the table, on each other, people walking out on their checks, fighting, crying, falling asleep, making out. It sort of wipes out all my other waitress horror stories at the moment.

What will you do once the album is released on Nov. 2? Any plans for a 
I am doing a Fall mini-tour with Winston Troy.  She's this great one-woman band with looped guitar tracks and effects.  We're playing 5 East Coast shows. [See the dates here].

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