Logan Lynn (2009)

I was interviewed by “Oregon Music News” last week and the story went live today. To check it out, CLICK HERE or you can read the full transcript below. The story will also be running on the homepage of the “Oregon Music News” website this Sunday, so…YAY. Thanks, OMN! I love it when magazines print my words as I say them instead of picking and choosing little snippets and making me sound stupid.

Here’s the transcript, folks:

From “Oregon Music News” (11/19/2009)

“Logan Lynn makes emotronic, electropop. A gay man from America’s heartland, raised in a family of cult-like, born-again Christians, he’s found a way out of some dark, lost days. Influenced by folk music growing up and DJs in Chicago, Logan’s demo was titled This Is Folk Techno. Sentimental lyrics paired with capricious electro-beats, Logan’s sound ranges from dejected to dancey, creating moods that resemble The Postal Service. Relishing in Portland’s creativity, Logan is signed to The Dandy Warhols’ label Beat The World and is becoming a people person. He celebrates his new album From Pillar To Post with a listening party on Sunday, November 22nd at Jinx Bar with The Dandy’s Zia McCabe spinning records as DJ Rescue, but before the drinks, Logan chats about being emo, hiding under the sheets, and grandma’s adages.”

OMN: Are you emo? What’s wrong with that word? Or is it just right?

LL: Well, that depends. If “emo” is short for “emotional” and you are asking if I think my music is that, I would answer “yes.” If you mean “emo” in the traditional sense of the word (aka 18-year-old high school kids wearing shit tons of eyeliner and whining about their girlfriends and parents), then the answer is “no.” I’m fine with the word having been slowly attached to me over the years… I think that, as the definition changes with the addition of “emotronic” and other sub-categories within the genre, it makes more sense. I have made peace with the fact that I am hard to categorize at times, both in music and in life.

OMN: Who is Logan Lynn personally? Musically?

LL: Well, I’ve spent years trying to make those two match up. I think I am finally there these days, or at least on my way to being there. My main goal for myself both musically and personally is to exist in a place of transparency and truth. I believe that the only way we can ever really be free is to look at ourselves honestly and project that truth into the world, however ugly or beautiful it might be looking or sounding at any given moment.

Similarly, musically, I am an open book. I want people to either connect to me and my tunes with the full story or decide that it’s not their bag, having heard me as I really am. I’m pretty sure that the day I start candy-coating my lyrics will be the day I stop caring about music and having listeners. Bottom line: I’m an imperfect work in progress and am fine just being that during my time here… so long as I am always learning, always growing, and doing my best to not repeat the same mistakes over and over, I’m into it.

OMN: What kinda music do you make? How did you develop your sound?

LL: I have always fallen into the electropop category, though I tend to move around within that genre quite a bit. By 1996 I had DJ’d other people’s music in the Midwest party scene for years and always listened to folk music and sensitive female vocalists growing up, so when I started writing songs of my own there were elements of both worlds of inspiration brought into the mix.

I hooked up with a Portland producer named Pfog in 1998 who had gotten his hands on a demo I had self-released called This Is Folk Techno. We spent a year or so working on GLEE, which was released in 2000, and I have since worked with a bunch of producers, each time changing the sound of the music a bit.

The instrumental side of my sound develops as I get the opportunity to work with other talented folks who know how to do and play things which don’t fall under my expertise. My lyrics and vocal work tend to grow sonically as I push myself out of my comfort zone, let go of my deep-seeded fears about being exposed or rejected, and grow personally.

OMN:There’s a bit of a dichotomy to your music. Uppy beats paired with sad lyrics.

LL: Yeah, I’m guessing that is partially about my dance music influences creeping in and partially a protective mechanism for myself. I write about my feelings as they are (as opposed to how I wish they would be) and it’s scary to put that out there with people you know, much less the world at large. With my songs, I tend to dive headfirst into my darker parts at times and let people just crawl into my head with me to check things out for themselves. The idea that people can go there in an enjoyable way makes it easier for me to put my words onto paper or into the air in the first place.

I like that I can have more than one type of listener and that the songs themselves can be absorbed in different ways by the same listener, depending on the day. If you feel like dancing or if you feel like going fetal in your bed under the blanket with headphones, it can work for both.

I make music to clear my head, to shrink my world to a manageable size, to not feel so fucking all alone all the time. It’s nice to know that other people are finding a home with my songs and feeling these same sorts of feelings. The connection that is made there goes both ways and has been really life-changing on this end.

OMN: How does your music help you release and express yourself?

LL: It used to be that the only time I was able to be truthful about how I felt was through my songs and writing. That’s not the case anymore, but I started making records for that reason alone, never really thinking anyone would ever hear them aside from my friends, family, and people who I could not otherwise communicate with. It started as a safe way for me to get the shit that was literally killing me out of my skull so I could move past it, and has continued to be that sort of outlet for me. Once I have turned my broken feelings into a story or a physical product of some sort, they tend to start to fix themselves. It’s like therapy, only super public.

OMN: Tell me about Portland. We all love it here. Why do you?

LL: Yeah! I love it here too. I moved here in ‘96 back when what is now The Pearl looked like an abandoned railway system and the air smelled like rotten Spaghetti-O’s from all the breweries. I got here just as the current music scene was really starting to form and got to watch it grow into what it is today and be a part of it as it formed. I’ve moved away a couple of times since for brief stints in bigger cities, but I always come back. It’s clean, beautiful, quiet, inexpensive, you don’t have to pump your own gas, and there’s tons of stuff going on. How could I ever move?

OMN: How did you end up in Portland?

LL: I moved here from Kansas City to go to school. My parents lived out here and I had come out to visit. It took one magical night at The City nightclub during that trip and I had decided that PNCA was the only school in the entire world. I ended up moving here shortly after.

OMN: How did your upbringing influence your music?

LL: I was raised the son of a preacher in the Church of Christ, which was a very cult-like section of the born-again world… at least where I was in rural Nebraska. Most of the fears and difficulties I have faced as I have tried to move into adulthood were adopted back then. I grew up feeling alone, hidden in plain sight. I could not be myself in that environment so I had to lie about who I was, which led me down a really dark path for many years. That darkness and those feelings of isolation and regret all play into my writing now and always have. I think, in general, it’s unsettling to turn your back on everything you’ve ever known and break out on your own. It certainly was for me.

OMN: What’s the connection to the Dandys? How’d that happen?

LL: In 2007 I was working with a company in Portland that was designing and building stores for American Apparel. I was in Los Angeles on business for a photo shoot with photographer Ray Gordon and gave him my CD. He liked it and it just happened to turn out that he was good friends with Courtney (Taylor-Taylor) from The Dandy Warhols. Ray ended up passing the CD along to him and, from there, they came to my show for MusicfestNW and we set up a meeting. I came by The Odditorium later that week and Courtney told me about the record label they were starting and asked if I’d be interested in making my record there and releasing it on Beat The World. I think I said “Hell Yes” or something and the rest is totally awesome history.

OMN: I’m confused. Why have I read things about From Pillar To Post being slated for release in 2007? In any case, tell us about the new record and how it came to be.

LL: Yeah, it’s confusing. I was about to release the record on my own in 2007 right when I got signed with Beat The World. Courtney’s advice was that I “shut it down” and re-make the thing properly in their studio with their engineers, which I did. It had the same title and a few of the same songs, but it ultimately turned out completely different than it was before. Listening to Mr. Taylor-Taylor in 2007 was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Anyway, it got pushed back and we ended up taking our time with it. From there, the release has changed, bigger players have come on board for distribution and such, dates have changed, etc… but the end result is light years beyond what it would have been and I’m really glad it has worked out the way it did… confusing pushbacks and all.

OMN: What’s the significance of the album title?

LL: My grandma used to say the term From Pillar To Post when describing her busy day, or someone whose life had run amuck at church or in the family or whatever. It stuck with me through the years and it took on some personal meaning as I started to run amuck in my own life, burning bridges as I crossed them, hurting everyone in my path. The record is about my journey through the ending of my relationship, my struggles with addiction, and my determination to find truth and light amidst lies and darkness, both internal and external. The record is all one story broken up into segments with song beginnings and endings, but is a snapshot of my life from that time.

OMN: What instruments do you play? How did other artists help you on your new album?

LL: I fancy myself a singer/songwriter and I can play very basic keys and guitar, mostly from having lessons when I was a kid… just enough to build the framework. I played most all the instruments on my records before 2007 rolled around and I started working with Carlos Cortes from Portland-to-Brooklyn DJ Collective Assemble The Empire. Our connection was fast and he was on-point with what I was wanting to see happen with my music.

We worked well together and, through our network and The Dandys’ network, we were able to work with TONS of people on the record and even more people after the fact with the remix project. I got loads of help this time around. That’s why it sounds so much better than the old stuff. I stopped being a control freak and let other people do what they are good at. It worked out.

OMN: What about online collaboration? What role has MySpace and the internet played in your career?

LL: MySpace basically lit the fire for what is happening in my world now. I was super behind the times until 2006 when my friend forced me to get a MySpace page going. Within a few weeks I had started building up an online group of listeners and started booking shows… the first of which was at the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. There were over 400,000 people in attendance and it was wild but turned some key people onto my music. Things snowballed from there. I have, since then, been building relationships with fans and listeners and the sea of people has grown quite large at this point. I owe a lot to that direct connection with the people and tend to put most of my non-musical energy into that side of things these days.

OMN: Who are your influences? Where does your sound come from?

LL: I’m influenced by all sorts of stuff. I’m obviously influenced directly by the bands around me these days. Aside from the other bands on my label (The Dandy Warhols, The Upsidedown, Spindrift, and 1776) I’m surrounded by other artists in town who are doing their thing authentically, getting noticed, and making it happen. I’m lucky that I am in such close proximity to them. I get to learn their music industry lessons vicariously.

At the root, much of my writing influence stems from years and years of listening to bands like The Innocence Mission, The Sundays, and whatever folksy stuff my parents had playing in the car while I was a kid. Blend in the early years of singing a capella in the church and the wild partying techno days which followed and you get my sound. I spent a lot of time listening to solo artists like Tori Amos, Elliott Smith, and Liz Phair as I was growing up, and I’m sure that being drawn into their heads during my formative years influenced what it means to me to be a songwriter in many ways. I was like a sponge back then, and I still feel a deep connection with many of their songs.

OMN: What are you listening to right now?

LL: Emily Haines…always.

OMN: Describe Logan Lynn in three words.

LL: Grateful, Hopeful, Irrepressibly Optimistic…. wait, that was 4. Sorry.

OMN: Now Logan Lynn’s music in three.

LL: Atmospheric, Moody, Electro-pop. Whoopsies… that was kinda 4 too.

OMN: What’s your live performance like?

LL: It’s similar to what you would see if you went to see a singer-songwriter, only instead of guitars and pianos accompanying my voice, I have someone running computers, drumpads, loopers, and gadgets.

OMN: Where can we see you?

LL: I have a big PDX show with Cars & Trains and The Gentry at the Doug Fir on January 7th.

OMN: Any awkward moments on stage?

LL: I exist in a place of supreme awkwardness in my life lately as I’ve been doing things on the sober tip and sorta re-learning how to be, but my shows have actually gotten less awkward as a result. I think the strangest show we had was in New York City in 2007. We played a party called Cornhole County and there was a drag queen running a petting zoo as the opening act. It was bizarre, to say the least. This baby goat kept chewing on our cords and we spent most of the night trying not to sneeze and picking tiny pieces of straw off our clothes.

For more information on “Oregon Music News”, CLICK HERE.

Category: Emotional Bullshit, Interviews, Music, New Releases, News, Press, Reviews, Uncategorized

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