Jenny Lewis certainly knows a little something about the art of performance.
A former child actress born to show-business parents, she's been in the spotlight since she was a toddler, first as a child actor and later at the helm of indie-pop sensation Rilo Kiley with then-boyfriend Blake Sennett. Even while her band was in full throttle, Lewis started a solo career, releasing her debut disc, Rabbit Fur, in 2006 and following up with the 2008 sophomore effort, Acid Tongue.
Rilo Kiley disbanded in 2011, and now, for the first time since, Lewis is prepping the release of a new album, but with no day job to fall back on. Aptly titled The Voyager, it was produced partially by her, with help from Beck and Ryan Adams.
New Times recently caught up with Lewis at home in Los Angeles just prior to the start of her current tour.
New Times: So what's it like being out on your own?
Jenny Lewis: I'm single and ready to mingle.
The entire focus is now on you.
It is scary and a lot of responsibility. I'm the only one who can sabotage my own career. When you're in a band, you have each other to either bring the whole operation down or keep the morale up. I have a pretty strong artistic vision, but when you're in a band, it's more of a democratic process. It's kind of great to be able to express that pure vision.
Your boyfriend, Johnathan Rice, is also a talented singer-songwriter. The two of you occasionally write and record together. Isn't it hazardous to bring your work home with you? You never get away from it.
I don't think you can, especially if you're both obsessed with music like we are. My parents played music together and they divorced, so the band broke up. I started Rilo Kiley with Blake, my boyfriend at the time, and when we broke up, that resulted in the demise of the band. So it is high risk. When it's good, it's really great; there's nothing better than sharing what you love the most with the person you love the most. You get to sing in harmony together, and it's so beautiful.
Is this your first solo tour?
No, I've done some touring on my own before this, especially in Florida. There's a song on my first record that gives a shout-out to Orlando.
When you're here in Miami, don't get confused and say, "Hey, Orlando, this one's for you!"
No, I won't make that mistake, although once I was in Kansas City and we said, "Hello, Kansas," and we weren't in Kansas.
Anyone could make that mistake.
Well, I certainly did. But Orlando and Miami are totally different. Miami is like its own country. I haven't played a lot in Miami because it takes a long time to get there. But every time I have, I've certainly enjoyed it.
You were raised in a show-business environment, were you not?
I was. My parents were lounge singers in Las Vegas, and my grandparents were in vaudeville. I actually did a movie in Miami when I was 10 or 11 years old with Raul Julia. I must have spent three months in Miami, so I kind of feel at home there. I have fond memories of wandering around as a kid.
Did that early acting training translate to what you do onstage now?
I think it does. I certainly know how to hit my mark. And I can hit my lines up there too. I've been learning that since I was a child. And just learning how to schmooze, which is part of music and Hollywood. You gotta learn how to schmooze.