Interviewing electro-pop artist Terri Nunn, I totally get why she’s cohosting a radio show (Unbound with Terri Nunn on 88.5 FM KCSN). Besides that glorious voice, Nunn has opinions that feel lived-in, a no-holds-barred curiosity, and a livewire sense of humor. When I asked her about changes in the music scene since Berlin—the band she cofounded—launched in the late seventies, she laughed before responding, “It’s imploding!” Despite the music industry’s free-download breakdown, Nunn is surviving just fine. “I’m lucky,” she said, “because I love the live show, and that’s still flourishing.” Lately, Nunn is performing in support of Berlin’s seventh studio album, Animal. Before she started asking me questions, here’s how she responded to more of mine.
What motivated one of VH1.com’s “100 Greatest Women in Rock” to earn a Master’s in Human Nutrition?
I had great parents, but they didn’t understand nutrition at all. They grew up in the martini generation, in the isn’t-it-great-to-have-TV-dinners generation. And I just followed through with that when I moved out on my own. Before I met John [Crawford] and started Berlin, I was a TV actress in my teens, and I remember watching my shows and looking at my skin, and even with the best lighting and my makeup and hair done for me, they couldn’t hide the fact that my skin was pasty and gray. It was horrible! I just started reading, and I found books on nutrition. Nutrition made sense to me. It’s something you can do for yourself, and within a week or two, you notice changes, across the board. Side effects in the medical world are usually bad, while with nutrition and eating right, the side effects are great—I would try things to make my skin better, and I’d notice, wow, my hair’s really manageable now; and oh, wow, I’ve got energy; and oh, wow, I’m losing weight. So, since I was interested in nutrition and I was doing all this reading anyway, I decided to go for the degree.
What brought you back to being vegan after adding fish to your diet?
I started as a vegetarian at 19, and then in my 20s I became a vegan. I added fish back in my 40s, and then I read The China Study two years ago, and that was a life-changing book for me. With cancer in my family—with both my parents taken by it—knowing that I’m a candidate and wondering what I could do about it, and then reading that [book], it was like, well, there it is. Fish is an animal protein, and I’m not messing with that anymore.
Any go-to foods?
I’m a salad girl. I love salad. And I live on hummus and cut-up veggies on the road.
Where do you get your energy for touring and performing?
It comes from love, it comes from following my passion, and it comes from the food that I eat. It comes from exercise too, from movement. I notice that I get tired from just sitting around. Bodies need to move; they need to stretch; they need to dance. Both the food that I eat and movement are imperative for my energy levels.
You cowrite songs, you cohost a radio show, and you perform with bands. Do you thrive on collaboration?
I do, I love it. It’s pretty wondrous to get to work with talented people and be blown away by what they do. That’s the orgasm right there! Once you’ve made a career and you’re doing something that’s making you money and you’re able to provide for your family, then what is it about? For me, it’s the collaboration and it’s the live show. Both of those are high points of my life.