Teagan McGinnis | Lemolo | Teros Gallery
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October 1st, 2017: Teros Gallery
As I approach the Teros Gallery in North Park I see a pink glow radiating from a large window that is consumed with tangled vines and small star-like lights. This aura, seen from about a block away, draws me in, creating an intimate space for all to enjoy. The owner, Alejandra, speaks of her magazine production that led to the inception of the gallery’s creation. Her fascination with surrealism is evident in the avant-garde presentation of the building alone. This sets the most fitting scene for a night with Lemolo, a Seattle “dream-pop” duo that dwells in the realm of the ethereal evocation of emotions. Both Meagan and Adrian meet with me after an intimate performance in front of a large mural that colors one entire wall of the Gallery.
What is your background in music? Where did the inception of the passion for the art form originally begin?
Meagan: I started playing the piano when I was three and took lessons my whole childhood, so for me music was always a really big part of my childhood experience and growing up. It was something I just always loved to do. When I was a toddler I would get upset, and instead of screaming, I would just go bang on the piano. When I was a teenager, I realized how great of an outlet it is to write songs, so instead of writing in a diary, I would write songs and use that as my outlet. So, it has always been a big part of my life and something that has been enjoyable for me, but also healthy to have the outlet to express myself. Then I graduated college and decided that I wanted to start a band and we have been going ever since.
Adrian: When I was a little kid, I used to listen to all of my dad’s records and stuff and then he got a new drum set one day and said, “Don’t play on my drums while I am at work,” so when he went to work I would play the drum set all of the time. I taught myself and started doing school band. In high school, I started going to shows and once I joined a band it was like magic. It was like making magic to me. I just don’t understand how you can put all of these ingredients together and get music. It blew my mind. Ever since then I was just so happy to play music.
Who are a few of your influences in terms of sound?
Meagan: Well, some of my biggest influences would be Radiohead, Feist, Cat Power, Daughter, Elliott Smith. Of course, when I answer this I think of ten more I didn’t say.
Adrian: I like a lot of the same like Radiohead. I really love Sigór Ros, an Icelandic band, Iron and Wine, Land of Talk.
I saw many people closing their eyes during the performance, so what are the feelings you wish to evoke through your music?
Meagan: It’s a good feeling. I think for me it’s just for people to have feelings while they are listening. I don’t set out to hope someone feels a certain way, but I think I have had people say I listen to this particular song and it helped me through a hard time, I found comfort in it. I think just in general someone responding to me saying that this really made me feel something is the best thing ever. It doesn’t matter what the feeling is, unless it’s angry. I guess just feeling moved is an honor.
Living up in Seattle, do you believe that the environment from which you reside, for example, the nature surrounding you, is important in the formation of your sound in terms of drawing inspirations?
Meagan: Yes, definitely. I think that is very true and it’s super cool that you asked that question because where I live and write the songs is totally surrounded by nature. We practice on Lemolo Shore Drive, which is the street name in a pretty small town outside of Seattle. You have to take a ferry-boat to get there, so it’s definitely not a city environment. It’s really country. There are lots of trees and bodies of water outside of the window, so for me nature, specifically the Pacific Northwest, has been a huge influence on me and my songwriting. I think that is where some of the moodiness comes from in my style. I didn’t set out to try to do that, but that’s just the essence of how it is up there with the trees and everything. I feel like it for sure has a big influence on the music.
Adrian: Even if you look at some of the song titles, they are about whales and waves and things like that. You are surrounded by all of this nature. It is great to let it just seep into you.
Meagan: I started the band when I was living in Seattle and then moved back to Lemolo Shore Drive to really do the band. As soon as I moved back to the country, I felt way more creative, which is interesting. It’s harder for me to write songs being in the city.
In my opinion, when listening to your music, I am transported to a different place entirely, a peaceful and transcendent one. Where does your mind go when you are creating and/or performing?
Adrian: There are two different things. There is live and writing or recording. With live, it’s literally in my head, don’t mess up, don’t mess up. Beyond all of that, sometimes I just find myself with the lyrics in my head. Live is a completely weird thing. With writing and recording, it is the same thing she was saying about what people will say about the music. When we are writing it, it’s about what it will make us feel. When we are coming up with something, it’s like that makes me feel a certain type of way and I want to continue that thread. Find things that are interesting to you, move you, make you feel. That is the most important thing.
Meagan: I think kind of similarly, there are few shows that I can play and totally let myself go and not think about the act of performing. Mostly, when we are performing I am doing the same thing. I am thinking, “Oh my god I have to do this part, don’t mess up, that guy looks bored.” For me, songwriting is where I have the most joy and feel the best, so the act of writing a song is super emotional for me and almost spiritual. That is where I get my joy. When I am writing a song, I can close my eyes and just sing it over and over again, for hours and just let my soul go, but that is only when I am alone… in my bedroom where no one can hear me.
You both spoke about creating a new album, so how has your music evolved in both sound and content?
Meagan: I think that this new album, I just feel like there is some more growth. I know for me personally, as a songwriter, I feel more confident than ever to be a little more honest and vulnerable with my lyrics. I think my songs may have had vulnerable themes, but I haven’t been confident enough to make it obvious in the past, so with these new songs I am trying harder to sing more from my heart and just be honest. That is something that is new for me. Sound-wise, maybe some more lushness with the layers of the instrumentation. They are still in such an early stage, so it will be interesting to see how they all come together while recording
Adrian: I think in the past, we have had the mindset of “let’s write a song that we can play live,” and so it can be a struggle because you can’t think that way. You just have to write the song that comes out. We are trying to do what the songs need and figure out how to play it live later. This tour is essentially a big part of that process.
Listen to Lemolo here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5bKPOg3YhjjqvoMVpa5tsy