For the past thirty years, the town of Olympia, Washington has been a hotbed of grunge and punk music, serving as the hometown of numerous legendary bands including Bikini Kill, The Gossip, Sleater-Kinney and Nirvana. Raised against the backdrop of such iconic acts, singer/songwriter Laura Jean Anderson spent her youth singing in church, and these influences collide in her own music, a unique blending of soulful vocals, well-crafted storylines and chaotic garage rock.
On her debut EP, Righteous Girl, which was released on March 4th, Anderson’s haunting voice seamlessly melds with seductive melodies and tells stories of freedom, honesty and discovering glimmers of hope in the face of hardship and heartbreak.
What was your childhood like? When did you initially becoming interested in music and performing?
I grew up listening to a lot of music—I didn’t really come from a musical family, but we definitely listened to a lot of music and from a young age I really liked to do things like sing hymns in church, so it’s always been there. It wasn’t always something I thought could really be taken seriously, though.
Growing up, who were your biggest musical influences?
I listened to a lot of old ’50s-’70s music growing up like The Ronnettes, Temptations, Neil Young, Carole King, Jackson Browne, Aretha Franklin, etc., and also Shania Twain–she was my gal! For some reason, I just had a huge liking for older music. Now, I could say I still listen to all that music but also am into music being made now like Kendrick Lamar, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, St. Vincent, Half Moon Run…
What are your fondest memories of your time at CalArts?
CalArts felt a lot like Laurel Canyon in the ’60s and ’70s. Having a community of young songwriters learning how to write music for the first time together was magical. Beyond that, I am so grateful for having those years where all I had to do was focus on musicianship and artistry. So rare that people have that privilege and I wouldn’t take it back for the world. :)
How did you end up in Peru, and what was that experience like?
I just bought a ticket one day to Ecuador and made my way down to Peru. It was a beautiful time of working on farms and traveling, meeting people and playing music.
What is your songwriting process?
Every song is different — I don’t have one way but I do believe for me that there is very little difference between life and music and you never know which moment in life is going to inspire a song and so I live my life open to it at all times.
What was the recording process like for Righteous Girl? In what ways did your songs evolve once you got into the studio and began recording?
The EP was a whole lot of fun recording. Like always, songs evolve and change when you get in the studio. Songs you thought would translate, get thrown out and songs that you never thought had potential become your favorite in the end. My friend Theo Karon who engineered the record was building his studio at the time we were recording so it was a super special time of building something out of nothing and experimenting with sounds and methods. Lots of late nights in the studio and so many memories made.
What’s the best song you’ve heard recently?
Basically the entire Kendrick Lamar record To Pimp a Butterfly.
Are you superstitious?
Haha, most definitely.
If you could have any super power, what would you choose?
I know it’s cliche, but I would love to be able to fly.
What are you working on next?
I am doing a lot of writing right now — can’t wait to get back in the studio and make another record!