Snail Mail Is Surviving the Hype Wave for 'Lush' by Making Another Record Already
Published Jun 07, 2018Lindsey Jordan is no surfer, but the 18-year-old has proven more than adept at riding out a wave. Snail Mail, the Baltimore teen's recording project, went from being a local DIY act to buzzy sensation seemingly overnight, after being taken under the wing of Washington, DC punk band Priests, culminating in a headline-grabbing run at SXSW, a record deal with stalwart indie label Matador and prominent coverage in a two-part New York Times spread on women in rock music.
Speaking to Exclaim!, Jordan sounds remarkably composed.
"I know the hype wave crashes out onto the hype beach, and eventually people stop being excited about hype. I've been trying to keep writing consistently good songs that I care about and try not to worry too much about the hype itself," she says. "I think that the real test is what will happen when the hype dies out."
She has a pretty solid strategy for keeping people's attention — even though Snail Mail's debut album, Lush, is due on June 8 and the band's schedule has been filled with tour dates and press events, Jordan is already working on a followup, which she refers to as "LP2."
Thanks to a VOX Headphone amp, which allows her to plug her guitar into her headphones so she can practice and workshop new material while spending her days on a tour bus, Jordan has begun writing new songs. The songwriter says that the device has allowed her to act on her inspiration, no matter when it strikes.
"I've just been talking to my friends who are musicians and everyone's like, 'Yeah, you're gonna be on tour forever because the album cycle is long, and you can't go all that time without writing, because then once you get home, you've got like four days and you don't just push out writing an album in four days.' It's a lot better to catch the inspiration wave when you can."
Jordan describes Lush as having emotive "Coldplay-style" songs that build up to swelling, emotional climaxes, but the new material will favour more straightforward structures. "I just wrote a song that doesn't have any big moment, but it's still beautiful and concise," she reveals. "I'm writing in less of a theatrical style, but just trying to keep with the kind of beautiful, open tuning melodic thing that I was originally doing."
The new material also finds Jordan drawing from influences outside the realm of indie rock, including rapper Princess Nokia — "I'm definitely not writing the same music as her, but I feel like we all have some stuff to learn from her" — and minimalist synth acts Oppenheimer Analysis, IKO and Black Marble.
Another possible change is in lyrical content. Though she has yet to complete a new song with lyrics, the words Jordan has penned thus far stray away from romance and heartbreak, two concepts heavily featured on Lush. "I wrote so much about it on the last record, and then realized a lot of those situations don't mean much to me anymore, and I'm just focusing on writing about experience and myself. I'm not gonna stop myself if a love song comes about, but I'm trying to see how long I can steer away from it before I fall back into the abyss," she says.
To help Jordan avoid the dreaded "sophomore slump," she's been thinking about sophomore records from her favourite contemporary artists, including upcoming tour mates Alvvays — whose 2017 sophomore album Antisocialites was Exclaim!'s #1 pop/rock record of last year — and recent tour mates Ought, who released Sun Coming Down a mere 17 months after dropping their debut album, More Than Any Other Day.
Jordan expresses a willingness to head back into the studio shortly if the material is there, but she's in no rush. "I want to keep it as natural and organic and possible. I want to make sure that I'm not just dumping content onto the world that isn't ready for the world. I want to make sure that everything is done with care."
Lush comes out June 8 on Matador.