Five questions with Lucrezio

Acoustic duo Lucrezio is the project of wife-and-husband musicians Jennifer Lucrezio and Jordan Bumgarner. The two met with Jennifer decided to turn her solo piano-pop act into a full band and began auditioning players. Turned out, they connected not only musically but romantically, and the rest of that story can be found in their albums, videos and live show. Catch the latter at Altamont Brewing on Thursday, Jan. 30. 8 p.m., free show.

Xpress: A press release for your upcoming show describes your mission as to “pursue music as more than an art form, but as a way to convey truth.” How do you feel that music taps into truth, and do you think that truth changes depends on who’s listening?

Jennifer Lucrezio: One of the beautiful elements of music is that it can speak beyond barriers, and has been graced with the capacity to break through language, emotions and differences. With that in mind, it only makes sense to us that music be given the depth it is due, moving beyond butterfly romance, social agendas and political personas. Our culture already provides plenty of opportunity to blurt out opinions and stand on platforms, but we wonder if through that has only been formed a victimized perspective of self: this mentality of “whatever feels good for me is acceptable for all,” without regard to the fact that life is so much deeper than what you have to say about it. That’s where truth comes in. A core that stands amidst swirling opinions, and that is what we hope comes to the surface in our music: A consistency of engaging raw emotion, without stopping to appease cultural nuances, both in our lyrics and in our personalities. Each song we write comes from a personal place, although we love hearing how people apply our music to their own stories. So, when you ask if truth change, I think it’s fair to say that experiences change, but truth cannot. There would be no point in calling it true if it just switched based on who’s telling the story. Human nature, integrity of character, purpose… these are all conditions that have a foundation. That’s the truth we’re digging into, and for anyone willing, we always love a good conversation.

You had a solo pop-piano project before you connected with Jordan. How did your marriage and musical collaboration change or evolve your music?
Lucrezio has very much coincided with Jordan and my journey together, which certainly adds to our love story. As a matter of fact, we started hanging together once Jordan auditioned to be in my hoped-for band. The solo project was never intended to last very long, as I very much craved collaborating with musicians who could capture a similar emotion and vision. Must be that when you combine those things, a good-looking guy who can play guitar with one who holds your same values, the relationship part becomes almost inevitable. Jordan came from a background of metal music and pulled in his former metal band’s drummer. The guys certainly added some rock to the mix. I had just graduated college with a music degree in classical vocal training, so we proved to be an interesting collaboration from the start. Our album, Storybook, brought our varying experiences full circle. We laid into some heavy guitar riffs and driving drums, but also ended the album with a solo piano and vocal piece. Seems we couldn’t make up our minds!

With regards to our marriage, Storybook is almost a neat telling of our journey. Two different people coming together, trying to figure out how to blend likes and dislikes, past experiences and present dreams.  After five years of attempting to strike a balance — in our music that is — our drummer stepped down and we decided that we would remain a duo. As an acoustic project, the sound is more intimate, the lyrics more pronounced, and our personalities more prominent. Rocking out was certainly fun, but the closer Jordan and I have grown, the more we have learned to press into and celebrate each other’s strengths and uniqueness, which is what becoming a duo has allowed us to do. Needless to say, we are eager to head back into the studio!

Two of the videos you have posted on your website, “Dreamer” and “Storybook,” are multimedia projects. Do you often work with multiple art forms? If so, in what other ways, and how does that enhance your music?

Yes, we certainly have a soft spot for all facets of art.  Although “Dreamer” and “Storybook” are, at this point, all that you will find, as resources are often poured into groceries, gas money and motels. Although we did put extensive effort into the image for our Storybook album cover, and I do love to take photographs as a way to give people the opportunity to see different parts of the country as we have seen it so far. There are literally hundreds of photographs in various tour albums from 2013 up on our Facebook page, and although not a musical output, we think nature has something to say about truth too. That’s why I love capturing and sharing what I see. Along with that, music has this beautiful way of, in a metaphoric sense, bringing us to another place. At times, when music is playing in the background, something about a particular song will prompt me to just stop what I’m doing and listen. At other times, a song begins to play and Jordan is internally nudged to stand up, take my hand, and lead me in a dance. And at other times, a song will cause us to wrestle with an emotion we thought was hidden or an experience we thought had been swept under the rug. I believe art does that as well — a painting, an image, a shade of light — they each have that capacity to stop someone dead in their tracks, left to simply breathe and reflect. Combine music with art and, well, that’s beauty and depth multiplied, using not only sound, but sight.

Your songs are very revealing and personal. What’s it like to perform them in front of an audience of strangers?
Someone once used the analogy that people are like onions. They have several layers and in order to see the onion in full, each layer needs to be peeled back. If peeling back a layer or two comes at the benefit of those listening, then I should always be willing to share my heart. Of course, there are several more layers that the songs can’t tell, some of which are to be kept for those closest to me. In light of that, I think sharing becomes rather effortless, because I know the extent of my heart that is being exposed.  Strangely enough, however, vulnerability is actually much easier in front of a group of strangers. When you share with someone you don’t know, especially in the context of an audience, you protect yourself from a personal interaction or immediate challenge. It’s the same thing Facebook users and YouTube commenters do every day.  We share feelings, concerns, and opinions to a blanket of faces, and never receive the challenge of a face-to-face interaction. We position ourselves in a place where we can choose what we want to share, and forego seeing what effect our words have. Conversation over a cup of coffee with a dear friend can be far more revealing and personal than a selected story spoken to several unknown faces. Though in the midst of social media, it seems that what I do as an artist is more personal than what some people experience in their everyday relationships. So I do hope that by sharing outside of a typed context, it might prompt people to dig a bit deeper with those they already know.

Tell us what we can expect from your upcoming show at the Altamont Brewery.
Well after all of that, it sounds like we’re quite serious! That in part is true, and we often play the solemnly chill card, but seeing as Lucrezio is all about personal interaction and life experience, we’d be remiss if we left out the chance to simply have fun. That’s where the covers come in, as nothing sparks a smile like being able to sing along to a favorite song. So, we’ll throw a few of those in there, but the real core of who we are will come through in our original material. Expect a night that might make you laugh, or it might make you cry, but at the very least, it will make for another night in beautiful Asheville with handcrafted beer and the music of two dreamers. That right there sounds pretty lovely.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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