Lucius Interview

October 19, 2016
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Indie pop sensation Lucius return to Pittsburgh next Thursday, October 27th with new music and a new band line-up. Known for their catchy synthesizer riffs, thoughtful song-writing, doppelgänger personas, and fantastic costumes, Lucius was grew out of a friendship that began at Berklee School of Music between co-lead singers Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe. Their well-rehearsed and choreographed shows tend to become sing-out-loud all-in dance-fests.

The Cut columnist Mark Egge recently spoke with co-frontwoman Holly Laessig about creating transportive experiences, overcoming shyness through performing, and new music. Here’s what she had to say:

Mark Egge: I wanted to start by saying thank you for taking time to speak with The Cut, Carnegie Mellon University’s first music magazine. Pittsburgh will be delighted to welcome you back next week.

Laessig: Thank you. We’re looking forward to it.

The Cut: When you play Mr. Smalls in Pittsburgh next week (and at all of your shows), what is the musical experience you are trying to create?

Laessig: I went to a show last night, and I was thinking about being on stage and how, when I was young, I didn’t decide to be a singer or performer until high school, almost right before college. I think it was Junior year of high school when I decided, “okay, this is what I want to do.” I’m surprised I came to that conclusion then because, before that, I listened to records and I sang along with them (always) and taught myself how to sing and emulate everything and mimic other singers and get inside the music. But as a person, I was very quiet. I was very, very shy. I always thought, “how would I be able to do that? I can sing, I enjoy it, I think I’m good at it—but I would never perform. I can’t even have a conversation with somebody. How is that ever going to work?”

But [performing] really takes you to a different place. I think we’ve helped ourselves some that way with putting on, sort of, this superwoman outfit. You become something else, and you take yourself on a journey. I think, in turn, that takes everybody else on a journey, and that takes them to a different place, and lets them experience something outside of themselves.

We’re very visually driven. Both [Jess Wolfe and I] come from families of visual artists. I think that’s an important part of our psyche and our palette. We see things when we hear music. It’s all sort of connected.

For a small band starting out, one of the cheapest, most affordable ways of being something was to dress ourselves and create this kind of thing with the matching outfits and unifying our voices visually. That’s where, I think, it stems from, and everything’s expanded from there. Obviously, we want to take our show always to another level. We’ll continue to do so. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s an important part of what we do, and an important reason why we’re able to do it.

The Cut: What are the outside factors that influence the experience you’re trying to create?

Laessig: I think the obvious, which would be the audience. How they’re feeling and reacting affects our experience hugely. [Background conversation, laughs]—sorry, leaving the hair salon. Speaking of keeping up appearances—anyways. The audience, the venue, there’s a lot of outside factors. The weather, if it’s raining and it’s outdoors. Festivals are much different than an intimate club show. All of those factors contribute to everyone’s experience.

The Cut: When you’re on stage and performing, it seems there’s a well-define persona. Is there a clear line between your persona on stage and who you are when you’re with friends and family?

Laessig: No, not really. I think there’s a difference, like I was saying earlier, by enabling ourselves through costumes and visuals and songs to take us, as well as the audience, to a different mental space. I think we try and go somewhere different than we would in everyday life, and that helps us perform and enjoy it. But no, there’s not like a clear, definitive line between ourselves on stage versus ourselves on stage versus ourselves with our families.

The Cut: Is it the case that you’ve changed to become more like your stage persona?

Laessig: You throw yourself into these situations and you meet so many people and you have to adjust and grow. I’ve definitely grown a lot since I was young. Like I said, I was very, very quiet then, and I still feel introverted, but I think as I’ve grown, and as I’ve been put into these situations and been forced to speak up, it becomes part of you. I don’t think it makes you a different person, I think it just it becomes more habitual, and therefore more natural.

The Cut: Since you last played Pittsburgh in July, multi-instramentalist Andre Burri has left the band to work on new projects. Will you be returning as a quartet?

Laessig: It’s actually going to be six of us. It should be good. We’re in rehearsals right now, adding things, moving things around, and having a lot of fun with it. It’s a welcome change for us, and I’m excited to see—and excited for you to see—the differences, and how it will grow.

The Cut: You have new music coming out next month. Can you give us a preview of what’s in store? Laessig: We do have a 10-inch coming out that has two songs on it. One is “Pulling Teeth” which is already available, and one other song called “Punisher.”

The Cut: Thanks so much for your time today. We’re really looking forward to your show next week.

Laessig: We’ll see you there!

Lucius returns to Pittsburgh on October 27 to Mr. Smalls in Millvale. Tickets are $18 and available via www.mrsmalls.com

 

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