Music Spotlight: Laura Jean Anderson
LA-based singer-songwriter Laura Jean Anderson released her debut EP Lonesome No More on October 12, accompanied by an intimate video series of live studio recordings. Call it What It Is, the last of the series, was released today, and each video beautifully showcases her incredibly striking vocals + her unique jazz-influenced rock sound. Laura Jean was raised strictly Mormon and has pursued music as her outlet—conquering many obstacles, studying classical music + starting two DIY music venues in LA. We chatted with her about the EP + her journey to LA.
Asymmetric Magazine: Congrats on Lonesome No More! Tell us about the EP and the themes your pursuing through it.
Laura Jean Anderson: Thanks! For me, each song on the record really dives into one particular emotion at a time, stemming from my life stories. The through theme—whether it be in production or songwriting or story—is about what happens when you combine two extremes and live in the middle. I was raised in such extremes and was told that I have to pick one, and I never could fit into either—the forever black sheep. But what if we carved out our own gray area instead of choosing these alienated sides? That was my hope for this record: old vs. new, analog vs. digital, traditional vs. modern, punk vs. church hymns, liberal vs. conservative, country vs. city, etc.
I was raised in such extremes and told that I have to pick one, and I never could fit into either—the forever black sheep. But what if we carved out our own gray area instead of choosing these alienated sides?
AM: You had a wild journey to LA and where you are as an artist today. Can you tell us a bit about that and the role LA has played in your work?
LJA: It’s been quite the journey to LA. Growing up, it was always a dream of mine to be a musician, but there was nobody in my community that did that so I never thought it was possible. It always seemed like a distant dream to move to LA to pursue music. My upbringing caused me to find solace in music and writing my story was my getaway. So, after a crazy journey, I finally made it to LA—first to study classical music at California Institute of the Arts. It was a rough grind for many years here, not knowing anyone and trying to build a music life out of nothing. But through endless busking hours in streets, every odd job on the planet, hundreds of 4-hour gigs and playing, playing, playing, I finally feel at home in my music community here. LA has been a challenge but one that is so worth it. It’s definitely played a major role because of the amazing music communities down here. It’s been so great to play with so many different kinds of musicians which has paved a way to finding my own voice within music.
AM: What about the two DIY venues you founded in LA?
LJA: During my first few years in LA, there weren’t many east side venues that were willing to let artists try out new work and really curate an experience. So, I ran a venue with my roommates in Highland Park called The Orchard House, where we converted the shed to an outdoor performance space and had all kinds of musical acts play amongst the fruit trees (and often homemade pie from the fruits in the yard). Whether they be local or touring, we had all kinds acts come through. After that, I started another DIY venue called Rockwood House in Historic Filipino Town. The space became a hub for music and creation. We had shows on the weekends and touring bands coming through often, we made a recording studio in the living room and were constantly jamming in the house. Both these venues were so special and amazing spaces to bring together musicians and artists to curate shows that you normally don’t have the freedom in venues and to have a central space for creation.
AM: We hear lots of influences in your work. How do you like to describe your sound?
LJA: It’s always so tough to describe it. To me, it’s rock n’ roll with a combo of old and new.
AM: You've been playing shows around the city all month long. Do you have a favorite track off the EP to play live?
LJA: My favorite song to play live recently has been Silence Won’t Help Me Now. With everything that has been going on in our country, it fills me with empowerment to sing that song live as a woman. It gives me strength to keep fighting the fight.
AM: We love the rawness, intimacy and passion exuding from your live studio video series. What was the inspiration behind creating those?
LJA: The record was so special to make and fun to nerd out on production and all the crazy recording things, but most of these songs started with just me and a guitar. I play them live often just me and a guitar, so I wanted to record the songs in their first form, stripped down and just about the song.
AM: What other musicians are you currently listening to?
LJA: I’ve been really deep into jazz lately. I just got an amazing Clark Terry record, and I’m also obsessing over the Duke Ellington & John Coltrane record—that version of In a Sentimental Mood kills me! Fall is my favorite time to listen to my favorite classic records like Tapestry (Carole King), Harvest (Neil Young), Wild is The Wind (Nina Simone), as well.
AM: Where is one place that you feel completely in touch with your creative self/music?
LJA: New Orleans makes me feel at home with my creativity. I don’t make it out there often but when I do, I feel so filled with creativity and life, and it’s so nice to see all that amazing live music.
AM: What can we expect to hear from you next?
LJA: I’ve been writing a whole lot, so another record soon!