‘Righteous Girl,’ Laura Jean Anderson took time to talk to me about music, honesty, and the balance of the two. Throughout the interviews I’ve conducted, there was something about Anderson that I felt in the conversation that made us talk seamlessly natural. A very sweet tone welcomed me on the other end of the line- excited and eager to answer any questions.
Originally hailing from Olympia, Washington, Laura Jean Anderson subconsciously holds on to the element that exists in the northwest- based around grunge, garage rock, and the after effect of what Nirvana left behind- intertwined with her honesty, and American folk.
With her roots up north and now transplanted in Los Angeles for the past 6 years, Anderson has been cultivated by her environment into a timeless sound of ‘Rock and Roll’ that never expires. Originally moving to Los Angeles for educational purposes, Anderson’s true reasoning emerged. While traveling didn’t allow her to live in The City of Angels “properly” until the last 3 years, Anderson expressed how her love eventually grew for LA, and how it now “plays a huge part” in her musical direction.
“I use to hate LA…I was told by everyone how it’s (LA) going to ’suck your soul, everyone’s superficial.’ LA is everything you ever want though. I’ve played music my whole life and until 22, I said ‘I want this in my life.’”
The way Anderson spoke, it became similar to her music; it was natural and inviting. I carried on with excitement and told Anderson how I caught her at a Sofar Sounds show in January, and was blown away by what I felt. When it comes to anything that Anderson creates, guarantee that there will be an invisible force of magic a listener will walk away holding.
GUM: I don’t mean to gush, but the reason I bring this up is because of the emotion. Is this natural for you or is music the only medium where you are this expressive?
LJA: (There’s) No difference between life and music- be as honest as possible. It’s also easier this way, I can’t paint.
GUM: Aren’t you afraid when you’re honest that you’re putting too much out there? Like, people can figure this out.
LJA: That’s a good question. Maybe I’m putting too much out there? Very interesting line from Patti Smith’s book about writing about people in your life. Something like ‘these are real people…it’s a little bit invasive using names. (Be) super honest but don’t out people.’ The balance of honesty is interesting.
GUM: How do you balance honesty?
LJA: I don’t know, I think you ‘know.’ Just be honest about it in hopes to bring it out; recognizing your own flaws in a way.
GUM: You mention flaws, and also failure earlier in songs- what failures?
GUM: (laughs) you’re laughing!
LJA: Yeah, you can just listen to the songs and figure them out (laughs). Everyone has regrets and mistakes.
For the most part I wanted Anderson to take the lead within the conversation. The weaving ability of passion within the simplest of words relit a personal fire within myself. It takes a musician to make music, yet an artist to create a translatable feeling within people- an attribution to life and experience.
Naturally I asked, “What continues you on this path, what is your drive?” Without hesitation Anderson simply took a breath and carried on: “It’s crazy, there’s always something that reminds me. I’m infatuated with music- (I) haven’t lost that magic. It’s an amazing way to express; universal. So grateful that this is my life. Life itself drives it.”
I scribbled this down reminding myself that this is why I am writing- to share the thoughts of humans like herself. With honest music, and a down-to-earth personality, is this how people will truly get to know Laura Jean Anderson?
“Music speaks for itself…that’s getting to know on my end. Whole world is hyper-branding ‘we want to know the artist’ but music comes first, then that develops into a form of expression. I’m entitled to that end.”
Anderson’s passion to focus on her music, rather than herself, allowed more of an allure to her craft. This focus that reassures all of herself will be left within the music; a hope for people to take from her music, and much more, as she continued explaining.
“I hope people can be honest in their life. ‘Hey, here’s my personal experience rewritten in your words.’
I hate to say ‘feminism,’ my idea what it is, I don’t want anyone to say I can’t do anything because I’m a woman. That’s why it’s super important we have people like Beyoncé, the whole girl power thing- but on a human level, (it’s important) we have a community, not based on race, gender, and just being recognized for being.”
With the success of Righteous Girl, which debuted in March, Anderson is glad it’s out and already on to the next project.
“I’m inpatient. (I’m) capturing a moment in time, I just want to capture this moment. Next week I’m going to track a live EP with 7 or 8 songs all in one day. Not going to say anything about it, just put it out there. Then for the full length, it’ll have the raw songs, but the album, it’s not going to be conceptual at all. No tricks. No studio magic, more like, ‘Here you go world.’”
From teaching her own students during routine music lessons to her own life, Anderson’s values are rooted within pure honesty. “I tell my students, ‘find someone you connect with, learn it, embody it, and then find your own person.’”
Anderson’s own journey of finding herself began by separating her influence and experience in life, and answering herself, what is my story? A rhetorical question that may stay with me for a while.
As time was approaching, one of the last questions effortlessly came out: What you’ve learned so far, what advice would you give aspiring musicians, or just people in general?
“Always know why you do it. Why it drives…things that drive people. Remind yourself. Do not be swayed by other people’s opinions.”
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