• About A Band: Jenny Lewis

    Jenny Lewis is no stranger to collaboration. She began her musical career with Rilo Kiley and has worked with more musicians than we can count, including The Postal Service, Bright Eyes, The Watson Twins, Johnathan Rice, and most recently, Ryan Adams and Beck for her newest album, The Voyager, out now. Celebrating the release of The Voyager and gearing up for a few For The Record vinyl signings, she chatted with us about her many collaborations, her fashion sense, and growing up in the desert. 
    Photos by Autumn de Wilde



    Hi Jenny! Thanks so much for chatting with us. How are ya?
    Doing well, thank you!

    We’ve been big fans for years and years!
    Well, thank you!

    So, how excited are you about The Voyager finally coming out?
    I’m pretty excited considering it took quite a while to complete. I feel like I can relax a little bit now that it’s done.

    You worked with Ryan Adams on the album. What was that like?
    It was wild! I reached out to him directly, via Twitter. I think I DM-ed him! I was on tour with The Postal Service and we were wrapping it up after Lollapalooza last year. And so I reached out to him because I had a new song that I wanted to record. And he said, “Yeah, come on down to Pax-Am, come check it out, and we’ll record your song.” And by the end of the day, we recorded two songs, and then he asked if I wanted to come make my whole record at Pax.

    That’s amazing!
    Yeah, it was exactly what I needed to get over the hump of this record. I didn’t want to be the captain of the ship anymore. I was happy to be the skipper.

    That was the 10 year reunion tour with The Postal Service, right?
    It was. It was really exciting, so fun! It’s like a rock and roll dream come true, where you disappear for a decade and come back and play two sold out shows at Barclays Center. That shit never happens!

    Are there any songs that will always feel extra special to you?
    My songs are like my kids in a way, so it is hard to choose. But I think I’m drawn to a song over time when it can exist in different ways. If you can strip a song back and play it on an acoustic guitar in a room with your friends, then it’s something that sticks around for a little while. Some songs are tricky and I can’t play them outside of Rilo Kiley, they just don’t make sense. I feel like "Silver Lining" is a song that’s really flexible in that way.

    I feel like I’ve witnessed something very rare in your musical history. I’ve seen The Frug live.
    Oh my gosh! Oh wow, that is a really rare thing. Did I do the dance?

    You did! It was incredible!
    [laughs] How embarrassing! It’s funny, because I didn’t even realize when we were writing that song that I was referencing Troop Beverly Hills. It didn’t occur to me, and then someone was like, “Yeah, don’t you remember? You did The Frug in Troop Beverly Hills with Shelley Long?” And I was like, “Ohhh, that’s where I got that from!”

    If they did a remake of Troop Beverly Hills, would you do it?
    Would I play like the older, wiser one?

    Yeah, like they get the old gang back together.
    You know, I would seriously consider it.



    In addition to your acting history and musical prowess, you’ve also become quite a fashion icon. Is that something you identify with?
    Oh, well that’s so nice to say! I certainly have never set out to be an example or a trend, I just wear what feels appropriate at the time. But I have noticed over the years when I look out into the crowd, that the fashions are always just a little bit behind what I’m doing. You know, when I was touring Acid Tongue, for example, the kids were dressed like I was for Under The Blacklight, like hot pants and glitter and gold lamè! And by the time Acid Tongue was finished and we were doing Jenny and Johnny, I had moved on to like a ‘50s greaser kind of thing, and the kids were dressed like I was on the cover of Acid Tongue, in bellbottoms and a hat, out there flashing peace signs!

    Will you ever put out another one under Jenny and Johnny?
    I’d like to! We shall see. Johnathan [Rice] and I continue to write together for my records, his records, and we wrote a bunch of songs for an Anne Hathaway movie. We’re always collaborating on stuff, and I’m sure that when we write something that feels really ‘us’ it will inspire another J & J record.

    That’s the second movie you’ve worked on a score for, that’s very cool.
    Yeah, that is the second one. The first one I did by myself, and then exactly a year later we were asked for Song One and I was so relieved to have Johnathan and Nate Walcott from Bright Eyes. It’s a big responsibility, it’s a lot of hard work and homework. There are a lot of revisions when you’re working on a film because it’s so collaborative.

    How does that differ than making songs for your own album?
    Well, you’re not writing for yourself, which is a really fun exercise. You’re writing for a character, and in the case of Song One, we were writing for a male singer/songwriter. To flip the gender roles like that was really exciting for me. Although I think we created a very sensitive man [laughs]. The sweetest, most thoughtful guy ever.

    You seem to really collaborate a lot on your solo work.
    Yes, I need a lot of help [laughs]! I come from a band, so I’m used to sharing the responsibility and I’m used to collaborating with people. I love it. When I first got into music, I knew nothing about music. I just knew how to write words and put them to simple chord progression. I learned everything being in a band. Standing alone and being a solitary solo artist isn’t as comfortable for me, so I try to be as inclusive as possible.

    You were actually born in Las Vegas, but do you identify with that at all?
    I’m pretty much a Valley girl, I grew up in the San Fernando Valley. But I do go back to Vegas on occasion. I mean, none of my family stayed in Vegas. But when I do go back, I feel a certain kinship with Las Vegas. I feel very comfortable in a desert mini mall out in the middle of nowhere. For whatever reason, that’s like when I’m in my element.



    Vegas is a kind of weird place.
    Kind of weird?! It’s the weirdest place on Earth! It’s so strange. You can stay indoors for three days in the AC and never see the real Vegas, but the way I grew up when I was a kid–we lived in an apartment complex and my parents worked in the casinos–our life was very separate from that.

    Back to fashion a little bit, tell us about your amazing rainbow airbrushed suit!
    Oh, man! Well, for every record since Rabbit Fur Coat, I’ve collaborated with Autumn De Wilde and her amazing team in Los Angeles. So we always get together and pow-wow about what the look is gonna be of the record I’m about to put out. So for The Voyager, we wanted something slightly cosmic. I was referencing Gram Parsons and those famed nudie suits he wore. They’re beautiful! It’s kind of a nod to country western music, but I also wanted it to be more modern and reflect when I grew up, which was in the ’90s in Los Angeles. So it has kind of a graffiti element to it.

    Are you wearing it on tour?
    Yes, I’m going to wear it as much as I can! But I’m playing a lot of summer festivals so I may have to rethink the three-piece polyester suit. You know, if you wear a suit like that, it does like half of the work for you. You’re like, “here I am! I’m in this rainbow suit!” and everyone’s like “Hey! Who cares about the music!”

    I’ve heard you also love wearing tracksuits!
    [laughs] It makes me happy, it keeps me very comfortable when I travel. I used to wear oversized tracksuits when I was a kid and so lately I’ve opted for a kids medium, that’s the size that fits me! I’m a total shrimp. They’re a little high-water, which I like. I’m dying to do a collaboration with adidas where we cop my rainbow airbrushed suit and make that design on a tracksuit. It would look really cool.

    I would totally buy that!
    Exactly!

    ***

    For The Record Upcoming Schedule

    8/4 Spoon: UO NYC (628 Broadway) 2pm-3pm
    8/8 Zach Braff: UO NYC (1333 Broadway) 5pm-6pm
    8/12 Jenny Lewis: UO Salt Lake City (12 South 400 West St.) 4pm-5pm
    9/10 Banks: UO Brooklyn (98 N. 6th St.) 6pm-7pm

    Come out and get vinyl signed by your favorite artists!

    Shop The Voyager