Lydia Loveless is an Indestructible Machine: An Interview

Photo by Ely Brothers

Twenty-one year-old Lydia Loveless has recently released Indestructible Machine on Bloodshot Records. That record finds this Ohioan rocking out to quirky and deeply-felt tracks about soured relationships, being stalked by Steve Earle, Jesus being a wino, and men with insatiable appetites for women. And all the songs are yoked together by Loveless’ gorgeous, lilting timbre, with just the right amount of distortion in just the right places. What’s not to love?

ELM:I read in your press kit that you grew up in a “weird” town. What was weird about it?

LL: It was small and rural and stuffy.

ELM: I noticed in the first couple tracks off your record, you seem to almost be singing against the music, rather than with a melody created by the music. Can you tell me more about that?

LL: I’m not sure what that means, but I hear it a lot. I didn’t think many people besides Black Sabbath could get away with singing a melody created by the music, hahaha. I guess I write music to melody, and not the other way around, so the melody is more important to me.

ELM: On a similar note, your vocal phrasing is unique. Do you have any vocal role models/inspirations?

LL: I pretty much learned to sing by singing along to Ace of Base and Fiona Apple. They were big inspirations to me. But I can’t really mimic people’s voices, so I don’t usually try.

ELM: Has Steve Earle responded to your song about him? (Side note: I once attended a benefit concert where he played, and apparently his only backstage demand was diet Dr. Pepper. Is that not cool?)

LL: Ha, funny. I don’t think he has heard it, no. I think originally I thought
it would be funny if he did but now I’m kind of wondering if he wouldn’t be
a little weirded out.

ELM: You also mentioned in your press kit that Britney Spears has been an influence on you. How does that manifest?

LL: She inspired me because I was 8 when she blew up, and I thought it was really cool that people could perform music for a living. She put the idea in my head before I was ever a musician.

ELM: “How Many Women” is a great feminist anthem. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

LL: I have never thought of it that way, but that’s funny. I do consider myself a feminist, but not so much the modern definition.

ELM: How many instruments do you play?

LL: I play bass, guitar and a little bit of piano.

ELM: Can you walk me through your songwriting process?

LL: I get a melody or theme first. Then I try to write as many lyrics as I can before delving into the guitar parts, although sometimes I will just fiddle around with something on guitar. I am not much of a guitarist, though, so that usually doesn’t happen. I try to work somewhat quickly before the emotions leave the song though.

ELM:Do you ever co-write with others?

LL: I have worked on/written songs with Todd May, my friend/guitar player. I do not do much co-writing though, as it makes me a little nervous. I’m getting better about that lately,
though.

ELM: Do you have a favorite song on the record?

LL: Learn to Say No

ELM: How did you get signed to Bloodshot?

LL: My manager has connections to them through a couple different people. My memory fails me with the exact sequence of things, but I believe it was his cousin who sent them my music.
Nan wrote to me the following day, and then they came to see us a couple months later at SXSW. We kept in contact for a year before we worked out a deal in January 2011.

ELM: How long have you been performing? What were your early days like?

LL: I have been performing since I was 13. I played bass for a band called Carson Drew, and then about 2 years later I began writing and performing my own music. My early days were probably pretty obnoxious, full of songs about Zack Morris and AC Slater and hating men and women, hahaha.

ELM: Who are your favorite writers?
LL: John Steinbeck, Stephen King, Joe Hill, Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski, and Mary Karr, off the top of my head.

ELM: If you could raise awareness of any social cause, what would it be?

LL: Getting celebrities to part with their moldy money instead of telling other people to do it through social awareness.

Lydia Loveless at Bloodshot Records

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