Listen Now: Music Spotlight on Snail Mail

Listen Now: Music Spotlight on Snail Mail

This week's spotlight is on Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail, who formed her indie slowcore band when she was just 16, and is now gearing up to put out her first full album.

This week's spotlight is on Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail, who formed her indie slowcore band when she was just 16, and is now gearing up to put out her first full album.

Text: Christina Cacouris

Every week, V shines a spotlight on an up-and-coming artist or group. This week we're looking at Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail, the 18-year-old indie rocker and Baltimore native recently plucked out by the New York Times to represent the latest wave of girls in rock. Jordan's first EP Habit was self-made (and toured while she was still in high school, leading to visits to the principal's office) but she's just signed to a renowned indie label, who will be putting out her first full album next year. Read on to hear about Jordan's process, what it's like to be a young girl in the music industry, and get an inside look at what her upcoming album will be like.

Tell me how you formed Snail Mail.

We formed in order to play a show at my friend’s festival in Baltimore, which was really amazing, Sheer Mag, Priests, Screaming Females, really amazing bands played. I had put my solo music on Bandcamp and my friend offered the opportunity to play opening. So with some friends, I formed a band just so I could play one show, and it just kept going from there.

How old were you at the time?

I had just turned 16. I wrote songs when I was 15 and now I’m 18 so the songs have been around forever, but they only just got released in July 2016. It’s a super fucking long process.

I read that you had to ask your principal for permission to go play festivals.

Oh yeah. [laughs] I did. That was this year, senior year. That was the worst. I asked all my teachers for permission, and the principal... [luckily] it worked. I didn’t get in trouble, but I missed so many days. My report card looked insane.

Your earlier releases like “Thinning” were done by yourself without being backed by a label; what was the process like of creating your own visuals?

My best friend, the drummer on the record, did that video and I just let her take the reins. We were just having fun and we didn’t go that far, walking around... it came pretty naturally. She had all the ideas, her roommate was very hip to this church that we got in trouble for walking around in. We just timed it so it was a pretty time of day. There wasn’t too much going into the actual visuals. It was just: what’s pretty?

Before an artist signs to a record label, you have a lot of artistic freedom. Are you worried at all that more of your work will be dictated by executives?

 Actually, not at all. We had a lot of really great label options for this next record; I went with one where all of the people there are nothing but supportive and excited about what I have in mind, or are just interested in helping me put out what I think is good. It’s only been helpful. They haven’t been oppressive or controlling at all. Having a label in place is helping me create the record I’ve been envisioning.

That’s great to hear! Tell me about some of your influences. You’ve cited Television before, which is punk; what else has impacted you?

I really really love Arthur Russell, and I really love Nick Drake, and Psychic TV is one of my favorite bands of all time. All time. Actually, one of the first bands I ever liked was Paramore, and that was the first time I knew about a woman being in a band. When I was 8 years old I went to see them, and that’s probably why I started doing music. I still freaking love them. Also a band called Electrelane, I really love!

You were recently in the New York Times talking about the future of female bands; do you think women will continue to take over the music industry or will it always be an uphill battle for girls?

The scene that I’ve been in, is really a lot more women playing than men, which is kind of exciting. It made it seem more accessible and possible. I’m really lucky as to where I come from. Downtown Boys and Sheer Mag are probably the best bands right now; really amazing, intelligent women. And I think—I don’t know necessarily that it’s much better, but I definitely think a lot of women are at the forefront right now. The NY Times thing was inspiring; it was a really great group, and it’s exciting to see how amazing and influential all these bands are that are coming up now. I feel lucky.

What can we expect from this new album?

This album obviously had a lot more resources; we recorded in a studio we picked with a producer that we picked; we had tons of time doing demos in another studio, we got everything exactly as we wanted it. We’re working with a lot more, and I’m really proud of the songwriting. It’s more of a guitar record than the last one. I’m very inspired by classical guitar and theory. I made the last record for fun, and now I made a record that I’m more inspired by and excited about. The lyrics are definitely more personal. I definitely am more open about my sexuality and stuff now that I feel more confident as an artist. I’m talking from less of a vague standpoint in my lyrics. And that feels really really powerful.

Habit is out now. Stay tuned for Snail Mail's first major album, out next year.

Credits: IMAGES COURTESY OF LINDSEY JORDAN

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