Jessy Lanza Talks Debut Album, Pull My Hair Back, and Working With Caribou
Last week, we here at Crossfade spoke with Caribou ahead of his highly anticipated upcoming live show at downtown Miami's Grand Central, and he had nothing but praise for Jessy Lanza, his opening act on the current tour and a collaborator on his new album.
Of course, the critical acclaim for Lanza has been widespread since the Canadian singer-producer unveiled her 2013 debut album, Pull My Hair Back. Co-produced by Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys, the album exudes a sensual lyricism carried by elegantly understated and delectable electro-R&B arrangements.
Ahead of her live performance with Caribou on November 19, we spoke with the talented Ms. Lanza about her musical roots, her album, and the show.
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Crossfade: What music did you grow up listening to? Which artists and sounds do you consider most influential to what you do as an artist?
Jessy Lanza: I remember listening to Steely Dan when I was a kid, because my mom listened to their records a lot. I find the music that influences what I do changes all the time, because I'm always seeking out new things I haven't heard before. Because of that, it's hard to name one genre or sound as most influential, but old and new R&B was the first sort of music I loved as a kid, and that hasn't changed.
You were a private piano teacher before your recording and touring career took off. Were you classically trained? When did you first start writing original music?
My parents started me in piano lessons when I was 5, and I did classical piano and studied music at school as well. My dad was very into the idea of me being a musician, so he was always encouraging me to write music and write lyrics.
How did you hook up with Jeremy Greenspan and what prompted you to work with him? What was it like collaborating with him on your album, Pull My Hair Back?
We are from the same city in Canada and have known each other for a long time through mutual friends. He asked me to do session work on the last Junior Boys record, and after that, we started working together. Jeremy is great to work with because he has a lot of energy when it comes to writing, and if I run out of ideas or hit a dead end with a song, he can pick up where I left off and convince me it's a track worth finishing.
What can Miami expect during your live show with Caribou? How does your studio material translate live on stage?
My live show stays true to the album. I use a couple synthesizers, and some soft synths run through my computer, as well as a lot of drum samples. I also use a delay pedal for my vocals.
Did you have a concept in mind for Pull My Hair Back before you set out to write the album?
The only concept I had for the album was that it would be something no one could mistake for someone else -- that it would have a distinct sound and be something people could sink into. My creative process was to keep writing, even if it seemed like I wasn't coming up with anything very good. I had faith that eventually something usable would come out of all the time I spent in my studio.
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Caribou and Jessy Lanza. Presented by Poplife. Wednesday, November 19. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets cost $20 to $25 plus fees via ticketfly.com. All ages. Call 305-377-2277, or visit grandcentralmiami.com.