Interview with Lera Lynn
Lera Lynn is an American singer-songwriter, best known for appearing in, and writing the soundtrack for season two of ‘True Detective’ starring Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn.
Lynn has also released three full-length albums and an EP. Her new record, ‘Plays Well With Others’ is a duet album with a difference. Eight of the nine tracks are co-written and recorded with other artists such as Rodney Crowell, Andrew Combs, Dylan Leblanc, John Paul White, and Shovels and Rope.
FT: Hi. How’s Nashville?
LL: It’s disgusting. It’s hot and humid.
FT: Well, for once Ireland is on a par with Nashville. We’re having a bit of a heat wave here. I’ve been listening to your new album and I have to say it’s great; lots of great harmonies and yet still clearly a Lera Lynn album.
LL: Well, thank you.
FT: Most duet albums comprise two artists doing cover versions of other people’s songs. Yours is very different. How did the idea of co-writing the songs and using different artists come about?
LL: Well, Nashville is known for co-writing and it’s something I resisted when I first came here. It was something I was a little confused about. How can you share such an intimate part of yourself? How can you write a song together that has any meaning? But, I opened myself up to the idea and I found myself surrounded by so many talented writers that I thought it would be really fun to try writing together.
FT: And it works beautifully.
LL: Thank you. I also wanted to try something different. I’m particularly trying to push myself in that direction.
FT: Your songs have a reputation of being introspective and brooding at times. Did working with others help widen your musical palette?
LL: I don’t think that’s an accurate description of my music, actually. Some of it is like that. ‘True Detective’ is certainly like that but my others records are pretty stylistically and emotionally diverse.
FT: There’s a real mix of relatively new artists like Dylan Leblanc and Andrew Combs but also country royalty like Rodney Crowell on the new record. How did you decide who to work with? Were they all people you knew?
LL: Yeah, everyone was already a friend, someone I had toured with or worked with in the past. There was a very natural process of finding good duet partners. Who do I love? Who’s in town? Everybody’s busy so it was a challenge to find a time when we could get together and write.
FT: And the actual process of writing; who germinates the idea for the song? Who writes the words? Who works the melody? Does it vary depending on who you are working with?
LL: Yeah, it absolutely did. In some of the songs I had the start, others it was the co-writer. We really mixed it up on the writing.
FT: If you made a follow-up album who would be on your wish-list to work with?
LL: Oh wow, there are so many. You know, I met Robert Plant a few years ago and I would sure love to work with him in some way. I would love to write or sing with him, either or both so if you could get the message to him I’d be grateful.
FT: On ‘True Detective’, how did you go from writing the songs to appearing in the series as the bar singer?
LL: Well, after we wrote the songs, we played them for the writer Nic Pizzalatto and the producer. They loved the music and T Bone said “well, why don’t we have Lera be the girl?”. I think they wanted a third eye or something.
You know, everyone in that show was made to look their worst. They said a third eye but in the end, they just went with the good-old heroin addict look. That isn’t a good look.
FT: There’s a story that you made Colin Farrell cry on set. Is that true?
LL: Yeah, that’s true. The first day that I was there. I think it was the first time that they played any of the music on the set. He was on camera and he cried and I thought he was acting but after they asked him: “you all right?”, and he said “sorry I cried. The music got to me. It was beautiful”.
FT: That is such a compliment.
LL: I know. He’s really such a sweet, kind person and I think he really did love the music. I think it elevated the experience for him. Not that he needed much help. He’s such a great actor.
FT: Has it given you the acting bug? Is it something you’d like to try again in the future?
I would absolutely love to try it again. You know, watching Colin and Rachel McAdams work. They’re so good. I hesitate to think that I could ever do anything close to what they do but it was really fun just being on the set and being involved in such a creative endeavour. For sure.
FT: The series got some negative reviews but you received a lot of plaudits.
LL: Yeah, I think that was too bad. I think maybe the story was a little too ambitious, too many characters to develop, which was sad because Colin and Rachel and all the actors worked so hard and they were so brilliant, and I hate that their performances were not celebrated more in a way that they deserved.
FT: Looking back on movie and TV roles of the past, is there any you would have loved to play?
LL: That’s a question I’ve never been asked. I think I would have to be a superhero or in a film where I could do a bunch of stunts… Maybe like Lara Croft. Yeah, that would be cool.
After ‘True Detective’, your next album ‘Resistor’ seemed a bit rockier. Was that a conscious decision?
LL: In ‘True Detective’, I was writing music for a character in a television show. A lot of people don’t seem to realise that. They know Colin Farrell is not a bloated drunk corrupt cop; it’s a character he’s playing, but they see a musician on the show and they think that’s the person’s music. I love rock music. I love music with energy and I suppose that was a challenge as I didn’t want to alienate new fans, but I also wanted to make a record that was true to myself.
FT: Your music in terms of themes has been personal and universal, themes of love and loss which affect us all. Given what’s happening in your country at the moment, do you see yourself writing more politically in the future?
LL: I definitely have been writing more political songs on my own that may or may not find a place on a record. It’s a really tough topic. I really admire artists who can say it eloquently. I kinda tried to write a political song that I released as a single called ‘Love One Another’ but perhaps the meaning was not very clear.
Taking the new album on tour, how will the duets translate in a live setting?
LL: We just finished a short tour here in the States with John Paul White and Peter Bradley Adams playing with us as they do on the album. They stood in for some of the others on the record. We did do a massive show in Nashville… Massive for me. It was sold out with Rodney Crowell, Dylan Leblanc, John Paul White, Peter Bradley White, Nicole Adkins, and the full band at the show. That was great!
Are there plans to tour outside the States this year?
LL: We will be touring Europe and the UK towards the end of the year. We haven’t announced it yet but probably will towards the end of next week.
FT: After that, what’s next for Lera Lynn?
LL: Just keep writing and recording, and keep on keeping on!
You can buy ‘Plays Well With Others’ and keep up with the latest news and tour dates on leralynn.com”.