We sit down with politically-charged punk brat Lowell.
Lowell’s got something to say: and she doesn’t care if you like it or not. Injecting her music with a fierce political energy, the Canadian musician makes danceable dream-pop with a spiky edge. And her life story’s no less interesting. Having moved to Toronto to study music at university, she ended up dropping out and making ends meet as a stripper (performing under the name Sara Victoria), before eventually breaking into the industry thanks to her grit and hard work.
2014’s debut, We Loved Her Dearly, established Lowell as an unpredictable, punky force to be reckoned with. It might have polarised some critics, but few could dispute it’s guts and bravery – and you can’t say that of too many artists. Now, having made a documentary on sex workers (a subject she’s keen to bust taboos about) and created a whole lot of buzz in the time following her first album, she’s back with a forthcoming EP, “Part 1: Paris YK. Earlier this year we got to hear “High Enough”, the first single from the record, and recently Lowell dropped “Blow The Bass”: a glitchy, moreish number that buries Lowell’s voice in moody distortion to brilliant effect.
It’s winning stuff and has us eagerly awaiting the rest of the EP, which is purportedly inspired by the severe, light-less landscapes of Canada’s northern territory of Yukon, where Lowell spent a particularly formative period of her life. We sat down with the woman behind the noise to talk inspirations, myth-busting, and Armageddon parties.
First off, talk to us about “Blow The Bass”: how did the track come about and what was the creative process like?
I wrote Blow The Bass on a chill day in the studio. I finished it in about the day and was about to throw it out but then the mix came back and suddenly I loved it. The verses are pretty much free styled and the middle 8 is a voice memo… But somehow that makes it feel more intimate and exciting to me.
And then the EP itself, how has your sound and method progressed from your previous work?
The whole vibe of this EP is pretty different. A lot of it is quite production heavy, especially High Enough and Blow The Bass so you have to listen to it really loud to get the full appreciation for it. The writing however is the same old same old. I’ve put the time in where it matters to me, but overall made the effort to capture the spontaneity that the music needs.
Inspiration comes from your time spent in Yukon – tell us about that.
“Paris YK” is significantly darker than some other music I’ve released. I was channeling the winters there when the sun barely rises. If you can imagine what it would be like if the sun never went up, you can believe there’d probably be a lot of drugs, dancing, Armageddon parties and heavy dreamers. That’s the vibe.
LBTQ issues and the political more generally is obviously important to you. How do those ideas affect and influence your work?
I don’t like, sing about Trump or anything. I just channel how some political standings can make you feel. I also try to be conscious of the world I would like to see and encompass that. If I would like people to not think of women as weaker beings I try to portray someone strong, a side that often is forgotten in us. I want homosexuality to be a norm, so I try to sing to the same sex at times instead of the default hetero perspective. I care about other political avenues as well. It’s all over my music.
When did you decide to commit to music full-time and why?
High school. Needed to find a career so I started focusing on music.
You’re active on social media in a way that’s a bit different to many musicians. Why do you think it’s important to connect with your followers in a very personal and intimate way?
I didn’t think I was different on social media. Ha. I don’t have a personal social media platform that I’m interested in so I guess my band pages are what I use to communicate with both my fans, friends and family. Maybe that creates intimacy.
Tell us about your documentary on sex workers. Why did you want to work on the project and what did you learn/want to show?
Sex work probably seems like a pretty niche subject and so it gets largely ignored by most people, but I think the way we look at it is proportionate to how we look at women as a whole in society and therefore it applies to more people than we think. I have a personal admiration for women who are sexually empowered and some of those women happen to be sex workers. I’ll do anything to keep them from being shamed into the shadows.
How do you define success: what is success to you?
In my case it’s just loving life, loving my job, feeling free and creatively inspired. Money helps but is not the answer.
What motivates you to make music?
What can we expect next from you?
I’m just workin’ all the time. I’m spending a lot of time in the studio like the old days so I guess expect intimacy and something very Lowelly. The EP, I have a tour to announce and then eventually a record!
“Part 1: Paris YK” will be released on 26th August via Arts & Crafts