I'm very happy to introduce to you Lera Lynn, a singer-songwriter from Athens, Georgia whose music fits perfectly between Ella Fitzgerald's Blue Skies and Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah. This past week I had the pleasure of interviewing her, and you'll find it below:
Dave Newell: Most of my readers enjoy good fiction. What books did you read when you were growing up that you’d credit as an influence on your songwriting? Bonus points if you can get The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Curious George into this answer.
Lera Lynn: Sadly, I didn't start reading books for
pleasure until I was almost an adult. Books were never really part of my
life as a child, as my parents worked non-stop and didn't have the time
or energy to read, nor did they place much importance on reading. As a
young adult/teenager, I started reading and writing poetry and would
have to credit Coleman Barks' translations of Rumi as having a strong
influence on me. Most of my lyrical influence I would credit to
songwriters such as Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Jeff
Buckley, as well as some old-timey country greats.
DN: One of your pages describes you as an “Alt-Country-Noir Chanteuse.” Last week if someone had called my mother a “chanteuse” I would have been offended. Now I know “chanteuse” is my new favorite word for “singer.” Tell me though how your music arrived at such a niche label.
LL: Well this is what I am, a singer in nightclubs, primarily, though I'd like to believe that I'm moving more towards the theater setting ;) This is a self-given title. It's tough to explain my genre using the word, 'county,' as this has so many negative connotations these days. Atl-country even sounds a bit...reaching, desperate to me. Adding 'noir' somehow exudes more sophistication, which I'd like to believe is characteristic of my music...
DN: I’m constantly writing about the 40’s and 50’s. It’s a time period that captures my imagination. Do you have a specific era that you draw from for your music?
LL: I certainly draw a lot of inspiration from the 40's and 50's, especially in aesthetic, from the way that I dress, to the way that I carry myself. I'm also very inspired by country and soul music written from the 40's through the 60's and the sonic aesthetic it had. That being said, I draw plenty of musical inspiration from current music too. I like the idea of throwback, but only drawing from certain aspects of it while maintaining your own unique style.
LL: I remember having a chorus teacher who hated me. I think I was young and very confident in my abilities as a singer, having learned so much at such a young age from my singing mother. Maybe I challenged her or something, I was too young to remember. But I do remember how she disallowed me to go on a singing field trip on my birthday, because I wore a black skirt instead of black pants, for the chorus uniform. Who cares!? I was standing in the back, even. She just wanted to take advantage of her opportunity to screw me over I guess ;)
DN: That story is definitely a new one on me. Strange thing is - same thing happened to me! I too wore a skirt to school once and they refused to take me on a field trip. Bigots. (Keep in mind I write fiction). Back to the serious stuff: You obviously have a process to put together your albums. What excites you most about putting the music together? Is it the songwriting?
LL: Songwriting excites me most in general. It's so hard sometimes and at others, so easy. I love having written! Being in the studio really inspires me to write. I also love building the track and putting on the headphones for the first time and trying to remove myself from the music enough to listen with unbiased ears. It's tough to do, but once in a while, you can listen without scrutinizing it apart, as if seeing through someone else's eyes. That's a fun and incredibly satisfying feeling.
DN: You are fresh off your second appearance on Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. Do you and Garrison have any plans on recording an album together? I for one would buy it.
LL: Garrison and I do not have any plans to record an album together. That's a fun idea though!
DN: What can you tell us about upcoming albums and projects you’re working on?
LL: I am so excited to begin working on the next release. I've done a lot of recording for it this year, but have decided to start over from scratch, taking a different approach and refining the material some...
DN: What have you been intending to read but haven’t yet?
LL: The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett is my next read. I just finished Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Phew! Crazy book!
DN: Do you have a least favorite word? One of my writers groups has agreed that “moist” should be used sparingly if at all.
LL: 'Sloughing' is a word I could do without hearing.
DN: Your Twitter feed is a lot of fun to follow. A few weeks ago a tweet said you were trapped in a bathroom at Kent Stage. Are you still trapped and doing the interview from there?
I'm trapped in the bathroom at Kent Stage. Someone please help!! instagr.am/p/RV5wvkqDhh/— Lera Lynn (@LeraLynn)
LL: Haha! That place is haunted! Ask anyone who works or has played there. I had to side-kick my way out of the bathroom...DN: That seems a bit extreme to me. The picture linked in your tweet clearly shows that you just have to turn the handle to the left. I'm sure it's as easy as that! In any case, I hope you readers have enjoyed getting to meet Lera Lynn by way of blog interview and that you'll take a look at her website and Facebook page. I trust you'll enjoy her music as much as I have!