Lucy Dacus explains why her new album Historian is ‘heavy’ — but no longer unhappy

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Lucy Dacus says she could advise before she could talk. “I continuously wrote songs,” explains the 22-year-veteran singer-songwriter from Richmond, Virginia. “Fundamental faculty, heart faculty. It didn’t undoubtedly feel extra creative than speaking. It changed into absolute top usual to bear that.”

As she sits within the Manhattan spot of work of Matador Records — the hallowed indie-rock put that’s dwelling to Pavement, Yo La Tengo, and most common breakouts, in conjunction with Automotive Seat Headrest — Dacus recounts an upbringing that makes her most common trajectory as one in all rock’s pre-authorized young talents seem almost inevitable. Her folks raised her “within the realm of Christian rock and musical theater,” but she gravitated toward their Bruce Springsteen, Prince, and David Bowie recordsdata. She wrote songs with net page visitors at sleepovers and changed into impressed to comprehend her first guitar when, as a heart schooler, she went to church camp and her counselor led an acoustic singalong of OutKast’s “Hiya Ya!” (“I absolute top view she changed into the coolest woman I ever noticed,” Dacus quips.)

In highschool, Dacus linked up with Jacob Blizard and Collin Pastore — her collaborators to for the time being — and the trio began experimenting musically. “That’s absolute top how we could well hang around, is net music together,” says Dacus, one in all EW’s eight artists to search around in 2018. “I would elevate in a music, Jacob would be doing preparations, and Collin would be recording. I don’t imagine working with anybody else, since the vocabulary that he, Jake, and I undoubtedly own created is… irreplicable.”

Their synergy glistens on Dacus’ sophomore sage, Historian, out this day. After she debuted with the decidedly lo-fi No Burden in 2016, Dacus expanded her horizons, in conjunction with strings and horns — the latter courtesy of Richmond legends No BS! Brass Band (Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver) — that conjures the grandiosity of a pair of of the earliest acts she admired.

Nevertheless lyricism stays central to her craft. “My accepted music is when the sound is supplementing the message,” she says. “I don’t mediate it’s dramatic; it’s cinematic.”

Learn on for EW’s interview with Dacus, whereby the singer-songwriter discusses the importance of protesting, finding hope in hopeless areas, and why her music is heavy, but far from unhappy.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Matador reissued your debut, No Burden, in 2016, but you’d recorded it even before then. When did you initiating engaged on Historian?
LUCY DACUS: A few of the songs are older than No Burden songs. Specifically, “Pillar of Fact” we tried to placed on No Burden and it absolute top wasn’t accurate enough, for my share. I mediate we bought it merely this time.

How did you toughen that music here?
When we had been attempting to bear it for No Burden, I had all this imagery and didn’t own the vocabulary to focus on it. I had never recorded before. I had never been in a studio. I’d never had to envision with anybody about my music or music in frequent. I’d never taken music classes, never been to music faculty. And I would absolute top articulate, “That doesn’t undoubtedly feel merely,” but I wouldn’t own solutions for make a selection up out how to net it merely. I undoubtedly wanted horns, but we didn’t own the budget or the time for horns. I didn’t in fact own a distortion pedal on the time. It changed into absolute top a failure on my share to talk effectively what the music wanted. So I’ve had masses of time to mediate what it needs [laughs] and I mediate it finally has been presented in a approach that I’m proud of.

Was there a level the keep you drilled down on songwriting or changed into the approach absolute top ongoing?
It’s been an ongoing thing. There had been songs between each of these songs that aren’t on the sage on yarn of they’re no longer thematically accurate. I absolute top noticed that I had enough songs within the same vein of view to place them in an divulge that can well perchance communicate a message. I undoubtedly finished the observe itemizing before I finished the songs themselves. I view the sequencing of the sage changed into basically the most intuitive, evident piece of the puzzle.

Are you able to present me extra about Historian‘s lyrical issues?
I discontinue up writing about hope in every music. This changed into extra or less stretching hope to its limits: Attempting at basically the most hard ingredients of lifestyles and seeing if hope could face as a lot as the bother. I mediate that it does and I hope that I proceed to be the plot of person that believes that. I mediate writing this could help me halt that plot of person. The album isn’t easy. It’s very deepest and it’s reasonably darkish, but all over the full thing it’s about handling darkness. Because you are going to merely own to bear it. It’s very unlikely to abet away from.

Did you are going to merely own any new targets on this album?
I desired to net something that felt urgent. I bear extra or less undoubtedly feel adore I lucked into this job, and I don’t clutch it and not using a consideration. So I actually undoubtedly feel this urgency to divulge the object I would deserve to divulge as rapidly as imaginable. Because I don’t know the blueprint prolonged I will own an target audience, so I wish to divulge basically the most integral share of who I am. I mediate that’s this album. It doesn’t mean that I’ll halt writing music; the 1/three album’s within the works and it’s all stuff that I undoubtedly care about and think in. Nevertheless it’s no longer urgent within the same blueprint that this album is.

A lot of the album tackles extra deepest troubles, but “Yours and Mine” offers with some external turmoil.
It’s about the deepest and interpersonal dynamic of protesting. I wrote it in reaction to the Baltimore uprising, alternatively it isn’t namely about that. It’s about the choice to march and teach and clutch half. So many folks had been telling me, “It’s unhealthy, don’t proceed there.” There are so mighty of reasons to no longer teach, and undoubtedly masses of them are legit. The music is about doing what’s merely for you and letting folks bear what’s merely for them and appealing non-judgment on each aspect. Put at dwelling when you happen to could merely own to to in actuality feel obtain, but don’t discourage folks from going out. I mediate of that because the centerpiece of the album.

Why? To me, it’s almost adore the outlier.
That’s why. It is extra or less the outlier. I mediate it’s the centerpiece since the vogue I own a look on the sage is that the ultimate songs on each aspect, “Yours & Mine” and “Historians” are outliers. [Tracks] one by four and 5 by eight extra or less cease in on one but any other. One and nine talk to one but any other. Two and eight talk to one but any other. When it closes in on one but any other, the fifth music is left alone and that’s “Yours & Mine.” It doesn’t undoubtedly own a associate. It’s its bear entity.

One lyric that stands out to me on the album is “You don’t need to be unhappy to net something worth hearing,” from “The Shell.” Might perchance perchance you talk to sadness’ role on Historian?
Plenty of oldsters lean into sadness as a crutch on yarn of there may be so mighty undoubtedly accurate unhappy music. There’s masses of musicians that can well absolute top write once they’re unhappy on yarn of that’s when the poetry is there — or perchance once they’re glad, they’re busy living that happiness with folks and they’re no longer sitting down to jot down. There’s all this unhappy, stunning music that’s being made and then there’s all these folks that wish to be musicians who are impressed by that music, and so it’s this never-ending loop of being impressed by sadness and being unhappy. I mediate there’s a undoubtedly toxic legend that you just are going to merely need to be unhappy to net deep or accurate music and that glad music is affordable and meant for the pop realm.

Nevertheless there’s also a observe sage of determined artists who had been identified for making unhappy music and then bought glad and—
And then lost their fan unhealthy? [Laughs]

As an illustration, I’m a Weezer fan, and Weezer fans on the full articulate, “We’re glad for Rivers [Cuomo] getting married and having a kid and stuff but…”
Who’s aware of how seriously he takes that. I mediate some artists care extra about that creative plug than their literal lives. I’ve seen it happen the keep folks almost are masochistic in their steady lives in divulge to entry this spot for art. I undoubtedly feel adore you perchance could observe being glad and getting access to a creative waft internal that happiness.

So, I came across it attention-grabbing that you just integrated that lyric about sadness on this album, which I make a selection up reasonably heavy.
I mediate it’s heavy, but I wouldn’t dispute it as unhappy. I wouldn’t articulate that the songs are unhappy on yarn of masses of the songs are about turning into self-enough, or absolute top admitting something.

Admire “Evening Shift”?
Yeah. That music is terribly cathartic for me to advise and it’s very hopeful for me on yarn of it’s pronouncing, “I absolute top don’t care anymore and I am going to net past this. I admit that the depth of here’s going to go.” Breakup songs are in general unhappy, but I am so no longer unhappy for my breakup. [Laughs] Every breakup is preceded by a cross relationship. So breakups needs to be cause for birthday celebration and triumph.

Was there a literal night shift being labored?
I broke up with this person and then started occurring tour, the keep all my reveals had been at night.

It’s seemingly you’ll well perchance’t be texting ought to you’re onstage at 10 p.m.
That’s my night shift. That’s after I’m at work.

How cathartic is it so that you just can advise that music?
A breakup is a thoughts-space that needs encouragement and desires hopeful forward pondering. It’s adore screaming staunch into a pillow, with the exception of I’m screaming staunch into a mic in front of 1000’s of oldsters.

Is it ever laborious to recreate that? Does the music ever lose its which implies to you?
No. It continuously potential something. Now and again it hits too laborious! I would adore if it absolute top didn’t mean something to me on yarn of then I would be ready to bear it with out my blood speeding every night.

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