Five (or more) questions with Lera Lynn

Nashville-based alt-country artist Lera Lynn might be right in the middle of one of the most commercial music movements of our time, but she approaches her own craft with thoughtful discernment. From minimalist videos to her own visual art, she’s not just cranking out pop songs but producing the sort of music that’s as substantial as it is entertaining (you know, in a haunting, stripped down, darkly alluring way).

Lynn’s current tour brings her to The Mothlight on Saturday, May 17, at 9:30 p.m. Trabants also performs. $10 advance/$12 day of show.

Mountain Xpress: You just released your new video for “Lying In the Sun” — it’s really cool and moody and minimalist. When you set out to make a video, do you put thought into how the imagery will change the listener’s perception of the song?

Lera Lynn: Yes, of course. I also see it as an opportunity to create yet another association or meaning for the song for listeners. Imagery is very important to me lyrically so it’s crucial for it to all work together.

Your current tour seems to be a mix of venues (like in Asheville) and festivals. How do you translate your listening room show to the festival crowd (or vice versa)?

For festivals I usually take my band. I am lucky to have worked with some very talented and capable musicians who specialize in playing to the room (or giant field of folks). We have worked hard to deliver a strong presentation of the songs in both settings. In fact, I can’t say that there’s one I prefer. They’re both rewarding for different reasons! I’m looking forward to our show at Mothlight on the 17th.​

You recently retweeted ‏@StaticVoidGames who wrote, “I might be the only person on Earth who thinks the saddest music by @Soakofficial, @LeraLynn, and @JasonIsbell makes the best jogging music.” Are you ever surprised by how people respond to your music?

It’s always surprising when anyone says they listen to my music!

Also, you seem like an avid social media user. What do you most (or least) enjoy about it?

Being an anthropology major, almost every post becomes something like a social experiment. You never can predict what people will respond to. I have noticed, however, that posts that require reading and aren’t accompanied by a photo usually get very few likes ​:)​

On your Facebook bio, for influences, you list Ray Charles, Conway Twitty, George Jones, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Portishead, A.A. Bondy and then you say, “man there’s a lot more that wouldn’t make much sense…” What are some influences that might surprise us?

I really love the psychedelic band from [Australia] called Tame Impala. I want to be them. I love Harry Nilsson and Jeff Buckley. I’ve studied Sarah Vaughn’s vocal stylings intensely. I recently realized that Karen Carpenter was a big one for me too.

What are your thoughts on mainstream country music’s current pop turn?

Country music has always been pop in one way or another. All genres grow and change and some of them for the worse. Country music these days seems to exemplify business mandating art, which, in my (artistic, ha!) opinion is completely backwards.

How does living in Nashville imprint or influence your sound? Do you think place actually plays a role in songwriting or recording?

I think living in Nashville has opened my mind to pop music a little and it has influenced my view of music business a lot! I certainly do think your surroundings play a role in the sound, meaning and style of songs and recordings. My favorite part of playing music here is getting to mix with so many very talented musicians! It’s such a joy to share the experience of performance and recording with creative minds whose musicality you trust.

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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