Come See Lowertown Go “batshit insane,” 10/29 at UT w/ beabadoobee

Yesterday Atlanta duo Lowertown released their debut LP, I Love To Lie, courtesy of Dirty Hit.  And next week they hit the road for more than a month of...

Yesterday Atlanta duo Lowertown released their debut LP, I Love To Lie, courtesy of Dirty Hit.  And next week they hit the road for more than a month of shows supporting labelmate beabadoobee, including an October 29th stop at Union Transfer.  The band is comprised of BFFs Olivia Osby and Avsha Weinberg who are barely out of high school, but have already drummed up major praise from the likes of The Guardian (“This striking stream-of-consciousness from the Atlanta high school graduates scrambles the songwriterly elegance of Elliott Smith with cathartic dirgey digressions.”) and Pitchfork (“Olivia Osby and Avsha Weinberg record moody bedroom pop tracks that deftly capture the ennui of young adulthood.”)  Last week I got a chance to chat with Olivia and Avsha via Zoom about the roots of the band and the earliest days of their twenties.

Izzy Cihak: I hate to start with such a huge question, but considering that Lowertown is still relatively new, what have been some of the personal highlights so far?  You got signed in high school and have already done some pretty big tours.

Avsha Weinberg: There have been so many.  I feel like getting signed was really crazy and out-of-the-blue and super unexpected.  A lot of my milestones come with the places we’ve performed.  I think a big one was being able to go to London to record our project.  That was a really a crazy, huge thing for us.  That was awesome.

Olivia Osby: For me, definitely touring with Porches was really cool, because I’ve listened to his music for so long, so being able to tour with someone I’ve looked up to for a long time was really sick… and really weird.

Avsha: And also playing Brooklyn Steel on our first tour – a sold-out show at Brooklyn Steel – was really cool and very shocking.  Obviously, it wasn’t sold-out because of us, but it was still a sold-out show.

Izzy: Have you had any favorite reactions to your music so far, whether it be things that were written about you, things fans have told you, or just reactions from live audiences?

Olivia: Honestly, some of my favorite things have been negative reactions.

Izzy: A lot of people say that!  That’s actually pretty common!

Olivia: It’s just funnier!  Also, because I like that our music makes people feel very extreme things sometimes.  I don’t like art that makes people feel very middle ground.  I like that we are provocative sometimes.  We had some very negative crowd reactions before, people like heckling us like crazy, and we’ve had people like visibly frowning and scowling and shaking their heads, which has been funny.  Especially when it’s like older people getting really mad at what we’re doing, and it’s like, “You don’t get it yet, Man.  You’ll see, you’ll see!”

Avsha: Yeah, the ones that stand out the most are probably the negative ones because it’s funny to be on the side of like some internet hating, or people don’t know you at all and people like rage, like have real rage toward you sometimes.

Olivia: I’m glad I can evoke such a strong reaction, like I matter that much to you.

Avsha: Yeah, you don’t even know my individual name, you know the band, and you’re like, “I hate this.  I hate you.”

Izzy: Have you noticed patterns in the kinds of people who seem to be most into your music, or your biggest fans thus far?

Olivia: I think we have a few different general groups of people.  Like, some of my favorite people that are in our audience are the younger ones, the teenagers, especially the teenage girls.  Because all the music we have out currently, I wrote when I was a teenage girl.  So, I feel like that is music that is made for people in my demographic.  I think it means a lot to them and I think that it connects with them a lot.  And a lot of them tell me that it helps them get through really tough times.  I wrote them when I was going through really tough times, so it’s nice to see that reflected back through other people.

Avsha: I think we’ve made a couple demographic changes through our time as a band.  We kind of started out on the internet a lot more, just because we weren’t playing much live and then COVID hit, so you really had to build a lot over the internet.  So, we had a pretty big internet fanbase.  And we’ve been touring and we’re in New York now and talking with people and playing shows here.  The demographic is definitely widening, I think, in terms of age as well.

Izzy: You’re about to release your debut LP, I Love To Lie.  How do you think the full-length compares to your earlier EPs, both in terms of sound and just the process of writing and recording it?

Avsha: I think the sound is much different.  It’s way more mature.

Olivia: Angrier…

Avsha: And there’s a much wider array of emotions.  I think, in that way, it’s a lot more mature.

Olivia: I definitely feel like a lot of the emotions conveyed on the album are more external and angry at the state of things and other people.  And I think a lot of our previous stuff talks about more internal things and is very much more self-deprecating.  Also, I feel like we wrote this after we had a lot more life experiences, just living outside of Atlanta.  So, I think we had a new perspective just on other ways of life and being.  Like, we wrote a lot of this after living in New York for a while, which completely changed my perspective on life for a bit.  So, that definitely changed between those projects.  It’s still very young, but I think the difference between being 17 and 18, versus being 19 and 20, is honestly pretty big, so there were just a lot more adult things that were being grasped [laughs].

Avsha: I think with our older projects it’s a lot more how we are discovering the world, and this one is a lot more how the world is impacting us.  Before it was a lot more internal, head thoughts, and unprocessed, raw emotion, and this is way more articulate and processed emotion and just the different feelings that the world makes you feel.

Izzy: You recently released “No Way” as a single.  How did that particular track come about?

Avsha:  That track is really interesting.  That one is one of the older tracks.  We’ve had the instrumental for a while.  I had the instrumental written and recorded… not in its structured form as it is now.  I originally tracked it in my basement probably half a year before we recorded it in the studio.  It was this super abstract, new wave sort of song, like an art punk song that I had envisioned.  Like, we could go pretty crazy on it and have a lot more range in sound.  And we weren’t really gonna put it on the record, actually.

Olivia: We just made it because we were like really, really into a lot of punk music at the time, like no wave… Like, what’s the guy’s name… that does the horns and stuff?  There’s this one musician that we got really into…

Izzy: Wait, is it John Zorn?

Avsha: No, but John Zorn’s cool!  John Zorn’s awesome.  I love John Zorn…  James Chance?

Olivia: Yes!  James Chance!  We were listening to a lot of James Chance, and he’s just this really erratic performer.  I listened to that song a bunch and I really wanted to go in a punk direction – like Avsha — for this record, but in an experimental way that hadn’t been done very much recently.  And I stayed up super late – like, probably until 5 in the morning – recording over and over and over.  And we’d just gotten back from LA, and – honestly, LA just does not rub us the right way – I was thinking about LA a bunch, and ended up just recording this take of “No Way” at 5 in the morning with all these lyrics that I’d written – just abstract thoughts that I’d collected about LA – and Catherine, our producer, liked that take so much that that’s the take that we ended up using for the final.

Avsha: We had the instrumental for a while and weren’t gonna put it on the record, and then somebody – when we were recording the record in London – was like, “Oh, I heard this demo that you guys sent.  You guys should do something with it.”

Olivia: And it gave us the love back for that song.

Avsha: I kind of thought it was really unhinged, like there was no chorus.  It was all just straight energy, and we took it to Catherine in the studio and she helped us make it make sense, and created a chorus out of the energy, without taking away any of the energy, and that’s kind of how the song came about.

Izzy: You’re signed to Dirty Hit, which is such a cool label.  How is it working with them and being a part of that family?

Avsha:  It’s really great.  They’re really sweet people.

Olivia: Yeah, we got pretty lucky.  I’m not gonna lie…  I’m honestly very happy with them and I really like the whole team.  Like, we’re really close with a lot of people that work there, which is really nice because I feel like they’re personally very invested in us, and not just the music.  Like, they care about our artistic production and how we’re doing personally, which is nice [laughs].

Avsha: They also give us a lot of freedom to explore different artistic directions.

Olivia: Yeah!  They believe in us!

Avsha: Yeah, they fuck with the vision!

Izzy Instead of asking artists about their biggest influences, I prefer to ask them about some of their favorite albums.  So, what are some of your favorite albums, whether stuff you grew up loving or stuff that you’ve discovered a little more recently?

Olivia: I have two on the top of my head at the moment.  Definitely The Glow Pt. 2 by The Microphones; I have the elephant from that cover tattooed on my leg [laughs].  And – for Avsha and I both – In Rainbows by Radiohead.  Race by Alex G, for both of us.  Chet Baker Sings, for me, definitely.  Those are some top ones…

Avsha: Kid A was also really big for me growing up…

Olivia: Sung Tongs by Animal Collective…  Those are definitely some top ones…

Avsha: Selected Ambient Works by Aphex Twin and Come to Daddy by Aphex Twin.  Those two are both really huge.

Izzy: You’re about to embark on a pretty huge tour supporting beabadoobee.  Are there any places you’re especially excited to play, or just cities you’re especially excited to visit?

Olivia: Yeah!  I’m so excited to do Montreal and Toronto because I’m half-Canadian on my dad’s side.  It’s gonna be so fun!  I’ve never played Canada and I haven’t been there in so long.  Honestly, the last time I was there was probably when Avsha and I went together and formed our band.  So, I think it’s gonna be so special…

Avsha: I’m excited to play the West Coast because we haven’t really played the West Coast.  I mean, we did San Diego, but we haven’t gone up the West Coast, and I’ve never been to the Northwest of America…

Olivia: I’ve not been to the West Coast much, so I’m excited…

Avhsa:  I’m really excited for that.  I’m really excited to play Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, our hometown…

Olivia: I’m excited to do Portland!  I’ve never done Portland…

Izzy: What can be expected of the live show when you’re here at Union Transfer?

Olivia: Hopefully us going batshit insane [laughs].  I’m hoping that we carry the energy super hard.  I’m really excited.  We’ve been rehearsing like insane for this tour, ‘cause all these songs are so fun and so energetic on this new album.  So, I’m hoping that we just go crazy and get the crowd really riled up for bea and stuff.

Avsha: I think getting the crowd riled up will be something to look forward to.

Izzy: Were you previously fans of bea, before being labelmates?

Olivia: Yeah!  Honestly, I’ve been mutuals with her and talked to her since before she put out any music.  So, it’ll just be nice to tour with her and her band because we’ve all known each other for a long time and they’re all really dope people.  I love her and her music, so it’ll be so, so fun.

Avsha: Yeah, we’ve played with all of them.  Like, our COVID bubble when we recorded The Gaping Mouth in London was with Jacob, from her band, her guitarist.  So, we’re just like buds.

Olivia: Yeah, we’re all homies.

Izzy: Finally, not to detract from your music, but you both have a fucking rad sense of style.  What does that draw inspiration from, if it’s even something you think about?  Do you have any “style icons?”

Olivia: Thank you!  I love fashion, and thank you for saying that!  I’m really into the whole artist persona.  Like, I think that aspect of performing can be so fun, and I love being taken outside myself with performance.  I look up to so many punk performers that just dressed in basically nothing, or something super weird, and would make people feel very uncomfortable.  I really like Lux Interior.  I love Bowie because his fashion was just insane and so ahead of his time.  And, honestly, people don’t even dress like him now, or ever.  And if people do try to imitate it, it just doesn’t look as good.  People like him, who were just so outside of the normal perception of fashion and gender.  And I just love people like that who are genderbending.  I just really want to have enough money one day to have a whole tour closet [laughs].

Avsha: The visual aspect of being a musician is super important.  Like, the music is, of course, the main thing, but in terms of creating an experience for listeners and people who really care…  Like, if there’s a band that we really like – at least for me – I learn all about them and if they have a strong visual presence, it makes it so much more fun and makes it so much easier to feel like you’re connected to them, and to understand the world that they’ve built.  So, I think the style that we put in is understanding that that visual aspect of it makes it way more fun, to go at it from all angles!

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.