Lomelda’s Hannah Read named her new album after herself, but it’s not a self-titled album. It’s not called Lomelda and it’s not called Hannah Read. It’s just Hannah. Unpretentious, simple, and real, like the music found within. Music you feel lucky to be on a first name basis with.
Read’s music is deceptively simple. She makes song after song of sidewinding indie/folk, music that in lesser hands might come across as little more than pleasant. In Read’s hands, however, she is able to take that cornerstone and build on her natural skill as a songwriter. Not only can she build the house, she can paint it fun colors and install all the windows. Every Lomelda song has a trick up its sleeve. Sometimes she doubles her voice to talk to herself. Sometimes bright piano dips in to counter the acoustic guitar’s forward march. Sometimes there’s fuzz and noise and sometimes there’s nothing but her voice coming at you crystal clear with its quiet Texan sweetness. Every moment is beautiful. Then some are sad, some are weird, some are happy. It’s like life. To get there, she had to record it three times, which, when you think about it, isn’t all that many times to get to perfect. I called her up one afternoon to ask her how she got there.
GSC: What was it like growing up in Texas?
Lomelda: Back in the day there was this thing called a tomboy. And that’s what I was. I would play football during elementary school playground time. I feel lucky that I grew up out in the country, and I wish that everyone had that opportunity. After school or weekends or summers, I was just out in the woods with my brother. We would make trails in the middle of nowhere and we would have pinecone wars with the neighbors. Man, there was this kid out there who was the total bully, who, in the pinecone wars—do you know what horse apples are?
GSC: No, what are they?
Lomelda: They’re these big, huge, lime green…I guess they’re a fruit, but you don’t eat them. They just grow wild out there. They’re real gnarly looking. They would be on the ground out there and this bully kid Darren would start throwing horse apples and then it would hurt.
GSC: What would you do?
Lomelda: Just, you know, be better at hiding than everybody else.
GSC: Watching videos of you performing, there’s so much equipment and so much happening. Your songs can be really complex. Are you the kind of person who’s really inventive?
Lomelda: I like being able to put the pieces together and to have a system that works. For live shows, the system has to like work. It has to be performable in front of people. But you also want to be able to be spontaneous and experiment, too. Think about putting together like a meal. You’ve got, you’ve got all these ingredients at your disposal. Maybe you’ve got some old bread, you got a can of tomatoes, you got you got a few eggs, and you’ve got to make something out of it.
GSC: Are you a good cook?
Lomelda: I love to cook, but I am definitely pretty experimental. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but sometimes it does.
GSC: It’s interesting that you use the word “experimental” I think, because though your music can first scan as being generally from the indie side of things, it really is experimental in its structure. How conscious are you about exploding the idea of what a more traditional singer/songwriter can do?
Lomelda: I feel like music is so physical and has this sensory-ness to it and you can get to any place by just following the feeling. I guess maybe more so than trying to explode any structures I’m just kind of ignoring them. We all have a specific set of structures based on where you grew up and what was on the radio and what you heard and what you invested your time listening to just see sinks into your brain. Music is traceable by time and place.. So I don’t think music’s ever really very original.
GSC: Your new album has a lot of references to yourself in third person. Do you talk to yourself a lot?
Lomelda: Yeah, I do.
GSC: What do you talk about?
Lomelda: Oh, you know, usually it’s like, “Hannah, why’d you do that?” Usually it’s scolding myself. I’m trying to take some advice from the self help heroes and turn those into affirmations like, “Hannah you got this!”
GSC: I feel like this new album is about happiness. Is that accurate?
Lomelda: I feel like the happiness that you’re picking up on is what I would just call being true. A “nothing to prove” kind of feeling. Yeah. Yeah. I think that I think that about this record. I think that’s why I like it. I think that’s also why I had to make it a few times because it didn’t feel that way on the first two tries.
GSC: What did it feel like?
Lomelda: It felt like it didn’t know what it was.
GSC: How did the process of recording it again help you figure out what it was?
Lomelda: One big huge factor was just having more time. Personally I have learned a lot and changed a lot in the past year. Getting to respond to the feeling of hearing it versus playing it is just as a real different thing. And then there was the interplay of like, “Okay, how do I make it sound the way I feel when I play it?”
GSC: You said you changed a lot this year. How?
Lomelda: I’m better at being friends with people who are actually my friends rather than just, you know, people who aren’t my friends. I was mostly scared to talk most of my whole life. I’ve known some really great people but didn’t have functional friendships because I wouldn’t talk—or I wouldn’t talk true.
GSC: What were you scared of?
Lomelda: Dying or something.
GSC: That’s a big one.
Lomelda: I mean, that’s the main one. Now that I’m scared of dying all the time though I’m better at talking.
GSC: There’s a song on your new album where you talk about Frankie Cosmos and Frank Ocean. Do you think you’re more of a Frank Ocean or a Frankie Cosmos?
Lomelda: I don’t think either of them. I just like them. You like them? Me too.
Also thanks to Matt for the interview, make sure to check out his biweekly playlist/newsletter Deep Voices!