Singer/songwriter/activist Ani DiFranco is pondering a U.S. tour of swing states around the time of the presidential election, she said during an interview yesterday (March 20) at South By Southwest i

Singer/songwriter/activist Ani DiFranco is pondering a U.S. tour of swing states around the time of the presidential election, she said during an interview yesterday (March 20) at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. "I want to really be focused this coming fall on the election," she said, adding that her candidate of choice was democrat Dennis Kucinich. "The possibilities are endless, so we're exploring them."

In addition, DiFranco is already working on a new studio album, the follow-up to the just-released "Educated Guess." "I asked Joe Henry to co-produce [the album], which is a first for me." No release date has been announced for the set.

DiFranco and her Righteous Babe label are also venturing into new areas of business with the opening of a music venue in her Buffalo, N.Y., hometown. "It used to be a church that we're renovating; we actually saved it from demolition. It will be a whole hub of artistic craziness," she enthused.

"Live music is a primary human exchange," DiFranco continued, noting that she has occasionally run into problems trying to work with independent promoters when booked in a Clear Channel-controlled venue. The venue may also feature a recording facility and the capability for bands to film their own shows when they play there.

One of the most visible success stories in the world of independent music, DiFranco has sold around 4 million copies of her albums via Righteous Babe since 1990, according to the label. Righteous Babe has grown to feature such acts as Drums & Tuba, Arto Lindsay and Utah Phillips. "I feel so much more accompanied now with this family I've been gathering around me," she said.

And while DiFranco's initial burst of notoriety was fueled by fans sharing live tapes of her concerts, the artist admitted there is a blurry line between that kind of activity and illegal downloading. "It's kind of sad, the whole notion that music should be free," she said. "Music is free: go play it, go make it!"

The hard-touring artist is gearing up for a spring U.S. tour, which kicks off April 3 in Grass Valley, Calif. "I don't know that I can keep up this exact pace, but I notice when I'm off the road even for a month that I just get soft. I don't like it."