Interview: Laura Jean Anderson

LJA

“I’ve always listened to older music; I really enjoy the sound of older recordings, and I’ve always been a fan of nostalgia.  I like to reminisce and honor the past while still being in the present,” says Los Angeles-based roots rocker Laura Jean Anderson, whose music presents itself with a vintage sound…mixed with a touch of grunge.  “My music comes out with a throwback sound.  I feel like the roots and Americana aspect of it comes from my experiences, growing up in a small town, from spending time in the South, listening to that music, and pairing it with a rock n’ roll, grungy vibe, which comes from growing up in Washington with role models like Kurt Cobain, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney,” she explains.  “There’s a juxtaposition in singing hymns on Sundays and then going to a grunge show, and that weird combination ended up in what I do.”

Time spent singing those hymns in church at a young age planted music deep in Anderson’s soul, and intricately influenced the way she crafts her songs.  “The structure of hymns is reflective of traditional American music,” she says.  “I think it’s important to understand the tradition, the history, and the roots of something in order to truly learn it and embody it.”

In order to achieve such understanding, Anderson has spent much of her young life on an adventure of one kind or another; from Washington, she journeyed to southern California to study music at the California Institute of the Arts, but after a while, she became restless, and made a decision that would change her trajectory;  “I was in school for a couple of years, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I bought a ticket to Ecuador on a whim,” she recalls.  “I did some traveling, ended up in Peru, and a bunch of my stuff got stolen. I didn’t have any money to call back to the States, and I didn’t want to freak my family out, so I played guitar on the street corners for a couple of weeks until I made enough money to get back home.  It wasn’t an artistic turning point, but it made me reflect on my life, and I realized I could have a life making music.”

Anderson returned to the States, worked on a berry farm, wrote music, and eventually moved back to Los Angeles to resume her studies.  Six months ago, she made another trajectory-changing decision. “I was doing a lot of sideman stuff, playing for other people,” she recalls.  “I was always stuck in this area of being a solo project or being a band with all these different names. So I said, ‘Ok. I’m Laura Jean Anderson. No more side projects, no other band names. I’m 100% doing my thing. I’m releasing my songs.’”

On March 4th, she released Righteous Girl, a stunning EP of four songs which have their own distinctive personalities, yet reference each other, all with a vintage vibe; “I used to refuse to listen to any music made after 1960.  I’m also really inspired by ‘The Twilight Zone’,” she laughs. “It’s the idea of spacey retro psychedelia, wondering if it’s imagination or real life.”  Anderson is working on a full-length album, and plans to do some regional touring.  I can’t wait to see, or should I say hear, what comes next.

Purchase Righteous Girlhttps://itunes.apple.com/us/album/righteous-girl-ep/id1086812139

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Susan Hubbard

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