Hello friends! I am bursting with excitement today! And so should you, because the title of this post is entirely accurate – Meagan Grandall of Lemolo has very graciously agreed to answer a few questions from ZaRecords. I don’t believe Lemolo needs any further introduction to the faithful readers of this blog, but I will say this, for newcomers: I consider their music some of the best I’ve ever heard, and it is a tremendous honor for me to be able to talk so candidly with Meagan. Here goes!
ZaRecords: From a composition perspective, where does Meagan end and Lemolo begin? Or, if you prefer, the other way around. Is there an edge anymore?
Lemolo: It’s funny you should ask this, because sometimes I wonder this myself. I formed the band in 2009 and for the first 6 months we played under the name “Meagan Grandall”. I didn’t think that sounded very cool and that was when I came up with the name Lemolo. All along I have written the songs by myself and they are always very personal songs about my life. So in that sense I feel like Lemolo is me and I am Lemolo. But on the other hand I love performing with other people, because I think other instruments and energies can contribute a lot to my music. For example, on my new record the drum beats that my drummer Emily wrote with me are bringing the songs to another level. So I think there is a blurred edge that at times can be hard to pinpoint.
ZaRecords: How’s the chemistry with Emily? Did you two “click” right away?
Lemolo: Emily is awesome. On our first meeting we had coffee and talked for 3 hours! And then during our first jam session I felt that she “got me” right away and was playing the kinds of drum beats I was looking for. I played her all of my new songs and had her jam along to them, and it felt right from that moment on.
ZaRecords: I “discovered” your music on KEXP – like a lot of great music from the last few years. I have the vague but persistent feeling that there’s a “movement” of sorts developing in the Seattle area, something which reminds me of the coherent pop currents of yesteryear (hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?). Would you say there’s a storm brewing in Seattle, or is this stylistic coherence due to my bias as a very distant observer?
Lemolo: I think Seattle definitely has a wonderful music community. I have found that it has been essential in helping me start and maintain a career in music. I think there are so many talented musicians living and creating their art in Seattle, and everyone seems to be very accepted for being their authentic selves and creating their original music. I feel lucky to be based out of Seattle.
ZaRecords: “The Kaleidoscope” is one of those once in a decade albums which instantly enamored anyone I played it for. No exceptions. It’s hard for me and my readers to gauge the success it had from more “objective” perspectives. What’s your view, two years later? Were you expecting more? Less?
Lemolo: Thank you so very much. Just hearing you say that is success in my eyes. It was my first record to ever record and release. Before that I had never even worked in a professional recording studio. So needless to say I had no expectations and just made sure to do my best at every step of the way. So when I received such positive feedback from listeners around the world, it felt amazing. I am still an independent artist and feel that there is a long way for me to go before I have financial stability (I still live in my mother’s basement!), but I am grateful for all of the opportunities I have had so far and am looking forward to what comes next with my new record.
ZaRecords: What’s this I hear about a European tour?
Lemolo: It is true! I received a grant from the embassy of the Czech Republic to travel there and perform my music at Degeneration Next Festival in Brno, Czech Republic on September 23, 2014. I decided to plan a three week tour around that performance, and will be performing all around Central Europe. Performing internationally has been a dream of mine since the beginning, so it feels wonderful that it is finally coming true. I will be announcing more shows soon so you can vista my online show calendar for updates.
ZaRecords: Your music is so intricate and delicate it’s almost palpable. I was wondering what your relationship with your instruments is – do you see them as tools to craft these sonic filigrees, or partners, sources of inspiration? Please tell me the story of your guitar (it’s the only one of its kind I’ve seen) and other such tales, if you like.
Lemolo: Thank you! I’m glad to hear you like my guitar as much as I do. I found it hanging up in a vintage guitar store and felt an instant connection with it. At that point I had never even played an electric guitar, but I knew she had to be mine. I spent all of the money I had in my bank account to buy it and have been in love with it ever since. It is a Teisco and was made in 1962 in Japan.
I think you’re spot on when you say I use my instruments as tools to write my songs. When I get a new instrument or new effects pedal, it directly inspires my songwriting. Often I arrange my songs while I am writing them, so my instruments and effects play a major role in how my songs come together.
ZaRecords: I wonder what your non-musical inspirations are, if any. Books, paintings, films? Video games?
Lemolo: I think my biggest inspiration outside of music is nature. I feel the most at peace with myself when I am outside, and especially when I am on the water. I grew up doing a lot of sailing and boating, and doing that is somewhat similar to a religious experience for me. When I spend time outside I come home feeling the most creative and eager to write music. I also love watching movies, and really admire the work of filmmaker Brit Marling. She has a very inspirational story and she is one of my idols.
ZaRecords: Do you have a go-to album for when you want to center yourself? What’s your musical oasis?
Lemolo: I love your expression “musical oasis”. Mine is Radiohead. I have favorite songs from each Radiohead album, a handful of them are “Everything in it’s Right Place”, “Pyramid Song”, “Sail to the Moon”, “Videotape” and “Bullet Proof I Wish I Was”. I love so many other artists too, but I feel a very deep connection with these songs in particular.
ZaRecords: How has the studio work on the upcoming record differed from “The Kaleidoscope”? How far along are you in the process?
Lemolo: I am nearing the end of recording my new album, which is very exciting. I think it is probably 85% finished at this point. With my new songs I am trying to take them to another level with the drum beats and layers. On The Kaleidoscope I purposefully kept the songs very minimal and mellow, but the news songs are feeling a little more upbeat and lush. It has been fun to experiment with new sounds and textures. I can’t wait to share it with you!
ZaRecords: Tell me a story from one of your concerts, from tour, one of those tales to tell the grandkids.
Lemolo: My best tour memory was from the very first time I went on tour. I planned a video session with some videographers in San Diego, California who filmed a project called the Boat Sessions. They invited us onto their sailboat with our instruments, and filmed us as we performed an acoustic version of Whale Song while sailing around Mission Bay. It was glorious and such an adventure!
ZaRecords: I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to answer these questions!
Lemolo: I hope these answers are okay for you, and that we can meet up on my upcoming tour. Thank you so much!