Indie artist Lena Fayre returns to SXSW after the release of her new EP, Is There Only One. A talented songwriter with a powerful voice, Lena’s music is ethereal, yet haunting. I caught up with Lena in the midst of all the SXSW craziness and was pleased to find that she is as unique as her music, and one to definitely watch.
You played at SXSW last year. How has the last year changed the experience?
I love being back in Austin. There’s definitely been more traveling involved and I’m playing more shows. I like SXSW and the big community here.
At 18 you have released your own music, won awards, and been featured by outlets like Teen Vogue and Rolling Stone. How have you been able to accomplish so much and continue to work to achieve your goals at such a young age?
It was pretty natural, I just had the opportunity to pursue music and I had relationships that I had started at like 11 and 12 years old so I just found that I really liked making music and being in the studio and collaborating with other people so it wasn’t like I shut out my social life and decided to do music. It was just in my free time I often was in the studio and thinking about projects. I just really loved it and wanted to do it and found the time for it.
Rolling Stone put you on their list of 10 New Artists You Need To Know before you had even turned 18. How did that change everything?
That was one of the first big pieces of press that we got so it was a little bit of street credit. It was just nice reinforcement and really cool because it happened pretty organically. I haven’t had a lot of lack of encouragement due to my age ever. I don’t think anyone, or at least consciously, has perceived me as a kid or anything like that so its nice that the things online kind of reflect that. Kind of like it’s not about my age, because that doesn’t really matter to me.
You grew up in L.A. and had the opportunity to achieve so much at young age. What do you do to keep yourself grounded?
I have a lot of people around me that keep it real and my life is pretty relaxed and pretty chill. Like SXSW is crazy but my life is pretty normal. It’s like super normal. I just hang out with my animals and tend to my home and read books.
You also won ASCAP’s “I Create Music Expo”, how did that feel to you as a writer?
It’s really nice when you get recognized as a songwriter because that’s the most important part of being a musician to me. That’s something I’ve been working on since I was really young, and something I felt like I had a really natural addiction to. It’s rad.
Do you ever have times when, as a writer, you aren’t sure you want to put such personal material out there?
Not really. I’ve always approached music as a free and open space and a place where I don’t think there’s a lot of judgement in terms of the connection between an artist and whether or not what they are saying is personal. Because a lot of music, even my music that I may put out, may give off the illusion that it’s personal but it could be totally fictional. I feel very comfortable sharing anything that I feel like I need to in music. I’ve never really been scared to put out music, like for fear of judgement. I don’t see it that way.
How did you start out writing music?
For me it always begins melodically. The melodic element for me was important as a kid. I never really wrote stories, but I was always a big fan of journaling and (kind of like) prose writing- free form of thought and words instead of stories with like a beginning, middle, and end. Diary entries and writing like that translates really well to lyrics. Melody is the most important thing for me as a vocalists and then wherever the lyrics come from.
You have described your music in the past as “deconstructed-pop”. What exactly is “deconstructed pop”?
That was a term I used to describe my first record, Oko, and part of that was due to the fact that the record, like song to song, was very different genre-wise. I couldn’t really put a finger on what to call it and what I really wanted to pursue in terms of a genre. There are certain structural points of a pop song, and of what makes music pop music, so taking those different aspects and characteristics of pop music and kind of playing with them and changing them and taking advantage of them and using them, but not necessarily in a conventional pop sense. That was kind of what I was going after. And “DC pop” is such a loose term, and like literally because my music tends to have more of minimalist attitude in terms of production
I definitely appreciate vintage and its ritualist aspect. I like that its one-of-a-kind and it kind of pays respect to past eras. I don’t want to wear what everyone else is wearing. I’m not interested in trends. I wear a lot of all black. One pieces are great and I like matching sets. I like things that easy, loose, and I like to feel confident and comfortable.
What is your favorite item in your closet?
I have pair of light pink silk PJs from the 50s. They are high waisted with a button down top. Feminine, but structured.
Check out the video for Lena’s single, Possession, below!