Lucy Dacus is on the verge of something big. Her debut album No Burden is due for release next month through hailed independent label Matador Records, following a whirlwind year for the Richmond based singer songwriter. Praise for Dacus' melodic slacker rock has flooded in from both sides of the pond following exposure on Pitchfork, Spin and even Rolling Stone - but for now, the artist has her sights set firmly on the road.
"It’s amazing," Lucy begins, launching into a conversation that will metaphorically and physically follow a journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles, in a symbolic move from gig to gig. "We played [San Francisco] last night," she goes on to explain. "It was a really awesome show, we are all in a really good mood after that. I did my first encore last night! Which was awesome. The West Coast is really beautiful, we’ve never played shows out here. I can understand why people celebrate it so much."
It will no doubt surprise many that Lucy Dacus first performed an encore in August 2016, several months after her touring career hit full swing in the United States, and many months after she first began to draw attention from music critics across the world. Likewise, it's shocking that this is her first expedition to the West Coast. Her explanation is simple: "We’ve toured the East Coast more because we’re from Richmond in Virginia. Also we’ve toured a lot since March but that’s not that long ago. We’re still a new band."
That band has merged from a solo act into a three piece, before transforming into a five piece, and eventually evolving into a four piece comprising Noma Illmensee on bass, Jacob Blizzard on guitar, and Miles Huffman on drums. Despite the project being named after Lucy alone, she certainly doesn't consider it to be a solo project: "It’s definitely a band. I’m capable of playing solo – all of the songs on the album I played solo for maybe a year or two before we recorded them - but now it’s like playing solo is so much more intimate. It’s not as fleshed out. Playing with a band is something I prefer so much."
Needless to say Lucy Dacus and her band have fallen across some steep learning curves in their one-year-long career. Of touring, she says her biggest lesson learned is that you have to "look out for your health. I’m trying to eat better because it’s really easy to not. When you ask people what you should do around here, they always recommend desert spots or a greasy spoon kind of place. You just keep eating a bunch of bad food every day. On a short tour you can treat it as a vacation and do that every night, but we’re on a five week tour right now, so eating right is a necessity."
"Another hard thing is that after shows I don’t go out to the crowd anymore because I lose my voice if I speak too much after a show! It’s really a shame, I feel like I’m missing out on getting to know people, but it’s just not logical."
With such a sharp turn towards success, inevitably Lucy's had to hand over some responsibilities to other people: "I used to book all of our shows, and I used to be more involved in everything. I try to do everything that I can by myself, it feels rewarding. But it’s been a lesson to adjust out of that DIY mentality and give the responsibility to other people. It’s hard because you trust yourself to do things. Luckily it’s worked out really good, I feel like I really trust [the people I work with] to know what I would want and would do myself."
One such move has been to sign to Matador Records. Of this experience, she says she feels "like the people at Matador still understand DIY. They all have worked in the DIY music scene. That’s actually something awesome about the people I have met in the music industry – it all started with a passion project: 'I managed a band in high school,' or 'I booked shows at my house through college, and eventually it turned into a dream job.' Dreams come true everywhere when I talk to people who have jobs in the industry."
Lucy Dacus' first adventure with Matador will be No Burden, which is due for release in the UK on 9th September - an album she recorded with her friend Collin Pastore in Nashville, in a short 14 hours. Despite this, it's an awesome war cry, firmly cementing the musician's importance on the scene in 2016. Check back soon for our full review.