Becca Damante '17 Arts Editor
Last Thursday, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper came to play an intimate show at Jittery’s. I had the chance to sit down with her before the show and ask her about her experience as a musician and her upcoming album, “After.” Here are the highlights:
Becca Damante: I’ve heard stories about your early experiences playing music in the basement of a video store. Can you tell me more about that?
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper: Yeah, when I was 18, I started working at the video store. It was on Main Street in my hometown Brunswick, Maine … I started writing music kind of coincidentally around the exact same time I started working there. And the store was in a basement, so I asked my boss if I could be down there after hours. He didn’t really question me; he just gave me permission. So I would work the closing shift and lock up at 11 o’clock at night, and then I had various pieces of gear. I had a little recorder, a guitar and a keyboard, and I’d pull it out and start writing songs late at night.
BD: When you write, do you write music first or lyrics first?
LL: I usually write lyrics first. I always felt like the music was like an afterthought to the lyrics, so if there are no lyrics happening, then there is no music happening, basically.
BD: How did you come up with the name Lady Lamb the Beekeeper?
LL: I was keeping a journal by my bed when I was 18, so around the time I started recording. And I was writing lyrics half asleep because I was really creative at the time and inspired. And Lady Lamb was written in my notebook one day. I don’t have any recollection of it, but it’s always been a character in my mind, like Lady Lamb the Woman. It’s just a nice way to carve out a space to be creative and not have it all lumped under my personal identity. It’s cathartic that way, I guess.
BD: Did you always know you wanted to pursue music as a career? And if not, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
LL: I guess I kind of subconsciously knew that I would be pursuing it pretty surely after I started writing, just because it made me so happy. I was supposed to go to college in Chicago, and I deferred. I started making music after I deferred in my gap year, and then when I started writing, I decided not to go to school, so it was a commitment enough at that point for me to pursue it. And then I started performing and all that, shortly after, so I guess I knew around 19 years old, I think, about six years ago. If I wasn’t doing music though, I would probably be doing something having to do with film.
BD: What about film interests you?
LL: I like film editing a lot. That’s a huge interest of mine, so I would have gone to school for film editing.
BD: Speaking of film editing, I just saw your lyric video for “Spat Out Spit.” Can you tell me a little about the concept behind that and your inspiration?
LL: A friend of mine and I were collecting all of these magazine cutouts. We were going to make a stop motion animation out of them, and that became a pretty tedious project … So I started looking for archival footage online, just anything, I had no idea in mind, and I stumbled upon this documentary called “Let’s Make a Film” from the mid-70s. It was a documentary about kids making animation, and that led me to all these other animations that were made in California at this one particular junior high school. I reached out to the copyright owners [and got permission to use the footage] … I didn’t do anything to the footage, except stitch it together.
BD: What can fans expect from your newest album? What’s different from the last album?
LL: I think this one is more direct, maybe like emotionally blunt and accessible…I made an attempt to be very straightforward with this record, and sincere, but in a way where I was kind of in an essence getting to the point quicker than my last one. It’s still very much me, but I think it’s musically a little bit more concise.
BD: How did you come up with the title for it?
LL: I have no idea. Honestly. You’re the first person to ask me, and I thought about it, and I don’t remember. It happened. It just came to me. I knew subconsciously I wanted something that was very direct and short, one word, straightforward, and I think I liked the word “after.” I liked that it’s so open ended. I liked that it could be construed to mean anything: after this, after that, after life, after whatever you want, after Ripely Pine, after whatever. It’s open.
BD: So I heard you’re playing at the Iron Horse in April. What can fans expect to see at the live show?
LL: That’s going to be a little different than tonight, which I’m excited for. Like I’m excited to be here, to play an intimate show and then let people know I’m going to be in town again, but with a band. So that’s going to be a trio…drums, bass, guitar, and organ…It’s gonna be really fun and loud and energetic.
BD: What has been your proudest moment as a musician so far?
LL: The thing that touches me most is when kids come up to me, like young kids or I hear stories about people’s kids … I think if the music is reaching into 12-year-olds or even sometimes 4-year-olds, then I feel like I’ve done my job … They may not get the themes I’m getting at, but they feel it.
BD: One of my music professors last year asked me this question, and now I ask all of my interviewees: Why do you do music?
LL: I make music because I’m very introverted…I find it hard to connect with a lot of people unless I’m playing music, and I feel like there’s something I’ve not experienced, personally, other than on stage where I’m expressing myself. I’m open and vulnerable and confident, and I can tell there is a connection in the room, and there’s an understanding, and there’s a joyful air in the room. And it makes me feel so grounded and human and full of love for everyone, and that’s hard to express. I think music can be so universally blissful and healing in that way.
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s newest album, “After” will be released on March 3, followed by a North American tour in April and May. You can catch her in Northampton at Pearl Street on April 4.