Nashville based singer-songwriter Lera Lynn stopped by the Hi-Fi this weekend to play some music off her latest album, Resistor, as well as some older tunes. I talked to her before the show about her music and her evolution as an independent artist.
Jacob Click: You started your musical journey in Athens, Georgia before relocating to Nashville. How have these two cities inspired you as an artist?
Lera Lynn: There’s a kind of unidentifiable thing that Athens has in its music, and I can’t really put it into words. But it’s like this rough edges, rawness, kind of not polished thing. I noticed very early on when I started playing in Athens that it’s not cool to be slick, you know. And then I go to Nashville, and it’s a totally different situation where everyone is slick as fuck. They play everything perfectly. They can play a million notes a second. Their tone and pitch are perfect. So they couldn’t be more different music scenes. I think I take a lot more of my musical inspiration and stylistic influence from the Athens music scene. But I really respect the approach that people take in Nashville, where music is a serious career. It’s not a hobby, you know, people pay mortgages and support families through music. And you have to be good at music and business and be organized and be diligent and work really hard to survive in this industry. I like being around those people that are making it work.
JC: I read where you were once texting buddies with Mike Mills from REM?
LL: Yeah, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe would come to our shows. So it was always a little nerve wracking to look out and they’re right in front of you, like OH MY GOD. And yeah, I guess that’s how we became friends.
JC: You just got back from a tour of The UK and Europe a couple weeks ago, that must have been an amazing experience.
LL: It was great! We had so many great shows, so many different kinds of shows too. We had a show in like a beautiful historic theater then we’d go play in a sweaty indie rock club. And we played outside. It’s like that on every tour we do, but I feel like to greater degrees in Europe. We played on Jools Holland, which was amazing. We played on the show with Tame Impala, James Blake and Michael Kiwanuka. They were amazing. I got food poisoning the night before Jools Holland, so it was like a mad scramble to try and get my shit together to be on TV (laughs).
JC: What was it like to work on the show True Detective?
LL: It was thrilling. It was really cool to see what happens behind the scenes on a show of that level. You know, at any given moment there are 50 people on the set. And they all work together like one big machine. And they move set-ups, cameras, and get ready for the next scene so quickly and efficiently. It was very impressive. Also just to get to watch Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell perform first hand was pretty amazing. That’s not something many people get to see.
JC: You told Rolling Stone that with Resistor, you made metaphorical hash?
LL: Well I think with each record, you’re kind of distilling yourself down more and more until you get to whatever your true essence is. You know, I still have a long way to go in my own version of hash (laughs). But I think Resistor is a really strong step in that direction. At least it feels much more like my thing than the records I’ve made previously.
JC: I really enjoy the baritone guitar work throughout Resistor. What made you want to use a baritone, rather than an acoustic or an electric for many of the songs?
LL: The baritone has a much lower range than a standard guitar, and I love where it sits with my vocals. It doesn’t conflict, you know. I feel like it creates this big platform for where my vocal range is. And I just like the sound of it. It’s so dark, stark and haunting. So I think it contributes a lot to the mood and vibe of the record.
JC: You are known for doing unique covers from time to time–your version of TV on the Radio’s Wolf Like Me has nearly 1 million views on Youtube. Do you have any covers ready for this tour?
LL: We’ve got some in the pipeline that we’re working on, yeah. We were thinking maybe Lenny Kravitz (laughs). I mean does anyone cover Lenny Kravitz anymore? I don’t know, maybe. Come on, you know those songs whether you want to or not. That’s the thing about Lenny Kravitz (laughs).
JC: How do you feel about the show tonight?
LL: I’m glad to be back. This will be my third time playing in Indianapolis. I played at the Hi-Fi once before, and it was a great audience. The venue was super nice and accommodating. I’m excited. I don’t know if we’re going to sell it out, but we’ll just keep coming back and try to build the audience here one person at a time.