La découverte de la musique de Hannah Read, c'est d'abord la rencontre avec une voix hors du commun au détour d'une page Bandcamp en janvier 2015. Depuis, elle est apparue 3 fois sur les compilations Life is a Minestrone (record à battre) et c'était une raison suffisante pour que je me décide à proposer une interview (la première sur le blog) à celle qui reste ma découverte vocale la plus forte de ces dernières années.
Pour respecter le ton de ses réponses, je vais (dans un premier temps) me contenter de la reproduire en version originale.
- Can you introduce us to your band Lomelda? How long has it been active and what was your musical journey that lead to its creation?
My formal music lessons include childhood piano lessons and middle school band (alto sax). My dad taught me Don McLean’s “American Pie” on guitar. My older brother refused to teach me the scales or formations he knew. Blessings for sure. So I learned my own patterns for the most part, from watching people or dialing up the web. When I liked the sound of something, I’d do the math and figure out what it was — or when I needed to tell someone else what I was doing so they could play along. That’s still pretty much how I do it.
I can’t remember the first show under the name Lomelda, but it was probably sometime around age 16, in 2009. I spent a few years playing a few silly shows and demoing extensively on GarageBand. Then in 2012 I started playing with the drummer and guitarist who made Forever with me — Zach Daniel (who still plays with me) on drums and Andrew Hulett (who still talks on the phone with me) on guitar. In 2015 we started playing a lot more, hooked up with Punctum Records (Austin, TX — they put out both Forever and 4E*), and put out our record. The most recent Lomelda-as-band formation added Andrew Stevens on bass and Ryan McGill on guitar. I like that Lomelda a lot.
The next record we will release, which we recently finished making, is just me and Zach. And my last few shows were solo shows. I guess I still don’t know what Lomelda is. Sometimes I feel like I am Lomelda. Sometimes I feel like Lomelda is out there somewhere, birthed by the cosmos, controlling me, alluding me, keeping me alive. That’s pretty dramatic though. Maybe one day I’ll know.
- I discovered your music through acoustic demos on Bandcamp under the moniker Thx. There’s something in that stripped version of your songs that reminds me of the blues of the origins (the one we can hear in the movie "Ghost World") and of vocal jazz. Are these influences that you take as your own?
For sure. At least, I think I can claim the attitude behind that kind of music, the candid, moody, ever-changing aspects. It’s the energy of Nina Simone, can’t play a song the same way twice, wouldn’t want to anyway. The act of making music is all forward motion. It’s time, timed. Most times, I get off stage and don’t quite know what I did, just the feeling of it. Grab that energy, write it to tape for playback and phew! that’s a whole nother trick. But whether ya get it back or not, it’s magic when something comes out of me and reaches all the way to you.
- There’s a naked emotion with a confessional tone in your music that we don’t see much these days but that was kind of common in american indie music from the 90s with people like Cat Power, Will Oldham or Mark Eitzel (from American Music Club). Do you relate to that period and do you feel a little off balance with indie music of today?
Sure, I love that stuff now. But I see lots of people making emotional, confessional music today also — just thinking about the few performances I saw at sxsw this year: Adam Torres, Frankie Cosmos, Cross Record, Porches, Mitski — they all fit that description. The folks I listen to, who I love, get the humor and sadness of life in there. Good fun bands play sad songs. Good sad bands wear silly shoes. Land of Talk is back. Mega Bog opened for Cate le Bon. I mean come on, so good. There are always gonna be folks trying to make a buck, trying to be too cool. Just skip em.
- The first Lomelda album Forever was released at the end of 2015 and very quickly you decided to do something quite unusual by recording in one single night in a theater a sometimes unrecognizable solo acoustic version of the same album. What was the idea behind this project? How do you envision those two sides of your music?
Maybe it’s commitment issues. Or can’t leave well-enough alone. I’m not sure, but I do this with most of my songs. Rearrange forever. Makes being in a band with me a little tough I expect. Sorry guys. Specifically though, 4E* came about because of two things. My buddy, guitarist, Andrew Hulett was about to move cross country, and I wanted us to do a final Waco project together. He engineered that recording (along with most of the Thx demos you referred to earlier). Secondly, I hate my vocal performance on Forever and wanted an extra try to help me like/connect to those songs again. When I listened back to what we got, I was pleasantly surprised to hear how the songs had changed from the originals in sound and meaning. The process and product taught me a lot about Lomelda.
- Lomelda was recently featured in a playlist by the band Mutual Benefit and begins to receive laudatory reviews. You also played in New York recently. How do you see the band’s short term future?
Well, I just finished making another record, so release and tour plans are in the works. Just need a little help from my friends to make this business stuff happen. But to be honest, my game plan hasn’t really changed. Keep at it, keep making music, keep making friends.
- You’re coming from the town of Waco, Texas. Can you tell us a little about the local scene and how your music is perceived there? Do you sometimes play solo acoustic gigs there?
You’ve caught me at a funny time for this question. I just spent a month living in NYC. And before that I lived in Austin, TX, for almost a year. Now I’m a couple days into working from my tiny hometown of Silsbee, TX deep in the piney woods. So I’m a few steps removed from my time in Waco. I figure Waco meant a lot more to me than I did to it. We probably had more friends than fans in Waco. Which is ok by me. Five years there got me Forever and a few life-long pals. I’ll take it. But right now I’m learning a new local and attempting to keep myself tied to the friends/supporters I’ve made along the way. Oh and yep, I play acoustic gigs sometimes, when I find a good setting.
- To end this interview I’d like to make a personal wish by hoping that one day Lomelda’s fame will allow you to cross the Atlantic and offer us a French tour.
Applying for a passport now. Hope to see ya soon!