Interview: Adrianne Lenker

Adrianne LenkerWhen Adrianne Lenker sent us her debut album Hours Were the Birds earlier this month it was love at first site. Drenched in pretty imagery, there’s a modern and mature twist to the album. Collectively it calls to mind the simple yet evocative likes of Emmy the Great and Lisa Mitchell, playing into our love of the acoustic guitar paired with intelligent lyrics.

Adrianne Lenker is currently based in New York City but has also spent time in Boston and Minneapolis, her hometown. The sound of Americana on the road rings clear on Hours Were the Birds, but in a revealing interview Andrianne admits her career is still relatively young. Tiffany Daniels writes.

When, how and why did you start to make music?

I started making music when I was too little to hold a guitar, and then I picked up a guitar as soon as I got big enough. I'm not really sure why, I just needed to sing.

What or who inspired you?

My Dad and [American jazz guitarist] Pat Metheny inspired me to start making music.

It seems like you spent a lot of your childhood meeting and working with other musicians, to develop your own creativity. Was there a specific turning point, when you thought, I can do this?

Even working with other musicians, at an early age I felt like "doing it". I never saw any other path. When I became more independent, I suppose there was a shift from just playing songs in my room to realizing that I wanted to play for other people.

Do you prefer working in a group or by yourself?

I like working both independently and with other musicians. There are worlds of things I find myself learning form other folk all the time - both musicians and non musicians (living and dead) - that weave their way into my music.

You recently recorded and are about to release your new album Hours Were the Birds. What’s the inspiration behind the title?

Time flies!

You’ve said that the idea behind the album is to capture the feel of your music when you perform live solo shows. How did that play into studio time?

I went into Terrarium Studios in Minneapolis (my home), and spent three or four days laying down my songs. It was just me and Rob Oesterlin (engineer). Rob was great at helping set the mood and letting me just do my thing. Afterwards, Andrew Sarlo took over and mixed and mastered the album. I feel he really brought the life of it out to the surface. So yeah, it's basically just like a live solo show, but with an added twist. Basically, Oesterlin and I baked some bread and Sarlo added the butter.

Hours Were the Birds is a really lovely album that’s been described as both Americana and folk. What do you think of those descriptions and how would you personally categorise your work, if at all?

Well I wouldn't personally categorize it at all, but if I absolutely had to I would say it's folk/metal.

Your previous album Ringing Bells is less widely available and was released in 2012. How have you grown as an artist since then?

I feel I've grown a little bit since then. Still chugging along. Actually I never released that album.

On Hours Were the Birds, “Lighthouse” mentions ringing bells. Is that a coincidence? Do you find yourself revisiting topics and themes in your music?

I definitely have reoccurring themes and topics. For some reason water often works its way into a lot of my songs. Water and the word "the".

Ringing Bells was recorded in Boston and you’re now based in New York City, but originally from Minneapolis. How does location and travel play into your music?

It plays into it well.

Would you consider yourself a troubadour artist? Do you like life on the road?

I'd really like to be. It's my dream to travel the world with music.  I'll let you know when I've experienced "life on the road”!

With the release of Hours Were the Birds coming updo you plan to tour the album? What would you like to make of 2014?

I'm really excited for this year and this album. I'm planning on doing a short East coast tour this March and then I'm headed south for another one this summer. I'll probably be playing mostly solo or duo to support Hours Were the Birds.

Hours Were the Birds is due out on 13th January 2014, and can be purchased digitally from here.

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