Culture

Take Ten with Lucius

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Take Ten with Lucius

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If you’ve not already heard of the band Lucius,  you’re missing out. This indie pop girl duo, along with their band, has created some of my favorite music (though that’s opinion, I don’t think I’m alone). Vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig sing exclusively in unison, forming a beautiful and unique sound on all of their tracks. When performing live, this unison is only furthered by their choice to get matching haircuts and dress identically, providing an entrancing show like nothing I’ve seen before. Though Lucius was recently in Pittsburgh with WYEP’s summer music festival, they will be returning on their tour with their newest album, Good Grief, on October 27th at Mr. Small’s Funhouse. If you missed them this summer, you just have to make seeing them a priority. Top priority. You absolutely will not regret it. Check out my interview below, which Jess Wolfe so kindly participated in with me. What a gal—only added to my love for this band.

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Maniac Magazine: Where does the name “Lucius” come from?

Jess Wolfe: Lucius was my dog. An English bulldog, with a crooked jaw, so one tooth stuck out, even while his mouth was closed. He was such a character – sort of this juxtaposition between incredibly sweet/handsome and silly/insane.  We thought his essence complimented the music. We also liked the sound of the name…

MM: Before you paired up, had you both always wanted to be musicians, or was it the collaboration between the two of you that sparked that interest as a serious endeavor?

JW: We both had been singing and playing piano since we were young… we shared the same experience in growing up without much of a music community, so when we met (in college), it was the first time we really had the experience of being around like-minded peers, and, more specifically, women. The collaboration certainly brought about a feeling and a partnership that neither of us expected, but certainly, the greatest gift I’ve ever known.

MM: How did you come up with the idea of the Rorschach/mirrored look? This was something that really stood out to me when seeing you perform live—it was almost entrancing. It’s interesting how dressing the same and wearing the same haircut can make two different looking people look like nearly the same person, and I think it’s a super interesting thing you’ve chosen to explore.

JW: The visual sprung from the music… we recognized the sisterly musical kinship from the very start, but as our musical partnership grew, so did the desire to compliment it visually. I think it anchors us before even heading to the stage and also offers the audience the opportunity to see us as they hear us, as one.

MM: Do you collectively decide on what your next look will be, do you take turns, or what is the process with that?

JW: Yes. We keep lookbooks. As the music develops, we see colors, patterns… and we look for further inspiration to try and bring those ideas or themes to life… whether it is in the form of paintings or video or fashion…

MM: I love that there are consistent harmonies and conjoining voices throughout all of your music, which I’m sure is an extension of the look of Lucius. You both seem to have a very wide vocal range (that I wish I had) and it’s tough to tell who is singing what part. Does one of you usually take the top while the other takes the bottom? Or one takes the melody while the other takes the harmony?

JW: Thank you! We are constantly switching parts, even in the middle of a song. It adds a whole other intensity to shift vocal range – dynamic is very important to us.

MM: On both Wildewoman and Good Grief, there are definitely a variety of sounds. I wouldn’t be able to peg Lucius as just covering one genre, as some sound Americana while others sound indie pop as well as plenty of other sounds going on. Does this variety come from coming together and having different tastes and wanting to delve into all of them, or is it a choice for the sound of Lucius?

JW: In the writing room, we kind of just go with whatever moves us. we are inspired by so many different genres, why limit it for ourselves? When we sing these songs, we feel that’s enough to sew it all together… to make it cohesive.

MM: To me, your lyrics are very resonating and inspiring. Though Good Grief’s songs focus on the hardships of marriage (I’ve read), the lyrics definitely extend beyond just that subject. Some songs utilize a very beautiful form of prose while others have a poetic nature. Did both of you enjoy writing beforehand, or did it come to the surface when putting lyrics to music?

JW: There really isn’t one method to the madness. sometimes, Holly will come to the table with a lyric and I’ll have a melody that suits it. Other times, we start from scratch together… we try and collect lyrics, melodies, bits and bops whenever we can so that when we do get to write we have a bit of a vault to spring from.

MM: It seems that even though an experience is individual, there’s no truly “individual” experience—as there will always be someone else with that experience. I know that Jess, you tour with your husband, and Holly, you must be away from your husband to tour, which both can cause very different but equally difficult situations in marriage. When writing, do you write with the intention of some lyric or phrase being universal and widely relevant, or does it all come from personal experiences and happen to be meaningful to many?

JW: Because we spend so much time together, we see each other’s experience from the inside and out. It’s truly ideal as writing partners. We are able to bring a different perspective, but also feel so deeply for one another.. and almost write on behalf of the other. If those experiences hit home for others, I feel that’s a pretty magical thing. I kind of come from the mindset that is: why write about something so personal if you can’t grow from it or see the comfort for yourself and others…

MM: Do you have any opening band touring with you?
JW: This week we’ve got JD McPherson with us and Big Thief. Two of my favorite artists right now. Just overwhelmed to have them. Come fall, the Cactus Blossoms will join us and they are so lovely.

MM: Have you already begun working on a next album? Though Good Grief only recently came out, I’m anxious and excited for more music to come from Lucius!
JW: We’re in the drawing room, always 😉

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To catch Lucius on their Pittsburgh stop, be sure to get your tickets here!

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