BL: It's a lot funnier. [laughter] We sing harmonies all over each other's songs. We're starting to write songs together. She's a little more pop-y and I'm a little more Americana‚ so getting the two together is really fun. I feel like it's a little more appealing to a lot of people. We met in Atlanta in a songwriting contest down there‚ and she came to Minnesota to do a couple of shows with her friend‚ and we were like‚ "We have to tour together. It would be way too much fun!" And so we did‚ and we're going to start writing together more this summer and see where it goes. We don't have a duo name yet.
MM: I guess it will come in good time. Are you finding that you're having some breakthroughs playing with someone and connecting on that level?
BL: It definitely opens up co-writing for me and seeing how someone else approaches a song. I hadn't really had any successful co-writes until Liz and I spent a month on tour together‚ and then we wrote this song in Vermont on the side of the road. It was like‚ "Whoa‚ she approaches the songs way different. It's really cool. I can really learn from this." It's good. And it's challenging too. I hope to play lead on the guitar‚ and a little bit of some other instruments. Get more of a musical blend rather than just a writing blend or a stage duo thing.
MM: That must be fun to branch out and play what the song needs.
BL: Yeah‚ and then to find someone who has the patience to let you work on it‚ too. I don't really know how to play ukulele - and slide guitar too! I really like doing it when we're doing duo shows‚ so every once in a while I'll pull it out‚ and it's like a whole new world.
MM: That's great. It gives it all different flavors. I was really impressed with your guitar playing. I think it's very unique‚ your approach. How do you approach that as opposed to the difference between singing and songwriting and stuff like that?
BL: I think it's all in wanting to write songs. The recording process‚ I think‚ forces you to pay attention to your guitar playing more and really recognize the technical aspects of it‚ like time signatures and keys and all the music theory behind it. I've learned a ton of music theory through recording. I don't focus on that a whole lot‚ but I think I'm going to once I start playing more with Liz and other people. I'm always paying attention to what I'm doing‚ but it's more of an intuitive thing and mostly discovered through writing songs.
MM: That makes sense. So what happens when you're hanging out at home and a guitar is sitting there?
BL: I ignore it. [laughter] Just kidding. I've been in serious hibernation for the past month. I don't know what I've been doing. My guitar is very sad right now. I usually need a spark of something. Sometimes it comes with words‚ like I'll have this phrase running through my head for a couple of days. Or‚ if I'm playing around with my guitar and I have a musical phrase‚ I'll have to bring words to it. It's a spark that happens somewhere.
MM: Is it usually a spark that happens and then you go to the guitar?
BL: Yeah‚ or if I haven't written in a long time‚ then I'll go to the guitar first to force myself back into it. Writing's a practice like anything‚ and sometimes you just have to force yourself to do it. I feel like that sounds awful‚ but it's not like I hate playing the guitar. [laughter] But sometimes you just don't want to go work out at the gym‚ and you don't want to put in those extra hours at work.
MM: You just want the results. [laughter]
BL: Yeah. There's no song that comes out in five minutes. I actually like the work part of it. I'm just bitter because I haven't picked up my guitar in a month. This conversation is making me want to go in my house right now and pick up the guitar. [laughter]
MM: Sometimes that's necessary‚ I think‚ to be removed. And then you come back and you want to pick it up‚ and maybe there are some fresh ideas that come out on their own.
BL: I just put out these songs‚ and they're really new to everyone else. But I don't want to start writing brand new songs‚ because what will I do with them? It's kind of a conflict. It's really silly‚ but I heard it's a really common conflict. I've talked to a lot of my singer-songwriter friends about it and they feel similarly‚ but then they're still writing really good stuff.
MM: Is writing an actual process that you devote yourself time to do? Or does it just happen along the way?
BL: I think it's a little bit of both. With the song that Liz and I wrote together‚ I just pulled over to the side of the road‚ and Liz was like‚ "What are you doing?" I was like‚ "Let's write a song right now!" It was more spontaneous and more fun‚ and it took us two weeks to finish. But I think it's definitely both. I write for writing's sake‚ too - short stories and journaling - but I haven't been doing that for a while. I told my friend‚ "I call myself a writer‚ but I don't know - I haven't written in a really long time." And he said‚ "I haven't had sex in a really long time‚ but I still call myself a heterosexual." [laughter] I try to write every day‚ but sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
MM: Are there certain songs that just appear in the moment of inspiration? Almost like they have to exist?
BL: "So What" and "Lovely" kind of did that. "The Porch Light" came from a writing workshop that me and my friend do every year. We get together and just write together for two days. It was a writing challenge to write a song with G‚ C‚ and D in it‚ and that was it. Those were the only chords that we were able to use. It came to me‚ but it was like ten verses long‚ so I had to kind of tear it all down. That's where it became a process - in the editing and the tearing down‚ rather than the writing of it‚ which is always really nice when that happens.
MM: It's a great song.
BL: G‚ C‚ D and writing about home.
MM: Is it a surprise to you when some songs like that‚ you sit down and they just kind of happen?
BL: Yeah. I think it's a total blessing when that happens.