Snail Mail: “I love hearing Nirvana comparisons.” (4/5 and 4/6 at UT)

Last week Lindsey Jordan, better known as Snail Mail, played her first show since the pandemic at Idaho’s Treefort Music Festival.  The performance was the first since both the...

Last week Lindsey Jordan, better known as Snail Mail, played her first show since the pandemic at Idaho’s Treefort Music Festival.  The performance was the first since both the singer/songwriter’s critically acclaimed sophomore LP, Valentine, and since she had surgery to correct vocal cord polyps, which delayed her tour.  However, the album, which came courtesy of Matador, has been receiving an overwhelming amount of critical claim, drawing comparisons to a number of the best ‘90s alternative acts and making year-end lists for Pitchfork, New York Times, and NME, among others.  Well, the 22-year old, with a love of both pop punk and shoegaze, will finally kick off nearly six months’ worth of dates (including a trek through Europe) with two nights in a row headlining Union Transfer on April 5th and 6th (with locals Joy Again opening each night).  I recently got a chance to chat with Lindsey Jordan via email (She’s apparently not supposed to be talking out loud, other than to sing live.)  She tells me about how she’s spent the pandemic, her latest album, and her favorite things about our mutual hometown!

Izzy Cihak: First of all, I have to mention that I’m actually also from Ellicott City!  (I graduated from Centennial in ’03 and I know you went to Hebron quite a few years after that.)  I’m curious how you would characterize the town for those unfamiliar with it?  As someone who grew up there, the environment would seem to have influenced a lot of your work.

Lindsey Jordan: Hell yeah, always excited to cross paths with a fellow prior Ellicott City resident.  It’s hard for me to characterize, but I’ll try.  I love being there and being able to just drive my car around and not do anything.  It’s a little suburban town in Maryland that is somewhat swampy, but not quite?  Somewhat foresty in places.  The main downtown area is old and haunted.  Definitely unique.

Izzy: You released your second LP, Valentine, late last year.  Have you had any favorite reactions to the album so far, whether things critics had to say about it, or things fans have told you?  It made a lot of year-end lists and I feel like it’s one of the albums people I know regularly bring up when I ask them what they’ve been listening to.

Lindsey: I’m so glad to hear that!  You know, it’s so strange that it’s been out for several months, but we haven’t toured it yet because without seeing people singing along and reacting live, I feel like I have no way of knowing what the crowd reception to it is.  I love hearing Nirvana comparisons.  That’s top tier flattery in my book.

Izzy: How do you feel like the album compares to Lush, in terms of sounds, themes, and even just the process of writing and recording it?  I heard you returned to MD to work on much of it.  The pandemic seemed to impact the way a lot of people wrote and recorded, but most artists I interview seem to think it was actually helpful.

Lindsey: I try to not even compare it to Lush!  I wrote that record when I was in high school and between then and now I’ve had a several-year-long career, lots of life experiences, maybe six or seven personal metamorphoses.  I definitely have become a lot more deliberate and interested in making every single part of the process my own.  In Maryland I spent a good amount of time fleshing out demos, adding synths, harmonies, etc. so that when I got into the studio, I already had a good idea of what I was doing.  With Lush on the other hand, I had a bunch of songs that we were already touring, so we just brought them into a studio and played them as a live band, which was also amazing in its own way.  Very different beasts.

Izzy: What have you been listening to a lot of recently?

Lindsey: I’ve been listening to a lot of MF Doom lately as well as Japanese city pop and Madonna.

Izzy: I understand that shortly after Valentine dropped you had surgery to take care of vocal cord polyps.  How was that whole experience, from the diagnoses, to the surgery, and recovery?  I feel like that must be one of the scariest things a singer can go through.

Lindsey: It has been very tricky and continues to be!  I’ve been working with an amazing speech therapist for several months and it’s an ongoing process.  There was an entire month where I had to be mostly silent, which was insane, but also a cool experience at times.  It’s a lot of discipline and self-regulation.  For example, I’m not supposed to speak at all on tour other than during the show!  Wish me luck on that!  I’m super grateful to be back, though and all of the hard stuff just makes coming back feel even better.

Izzy: On a much lighter note (although still a large question), what have been some of the personal highlights of your musical career for you so far?

Lindsey: Definitely selling out an entire Asian tour.

Izzy: You’re about to kick off your upcoming tour with two nights at Union Transfer in Philly (where I’ve been since graduating from Centennial).  You’ve actually played here a number of times in a relatively short period of time.  Do you have any favorite memories from the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, whether from onstage or just around town?

Lindsey: I got Franklin Fountain with my manager once and really enjoyed it.  That place is dope.

Izzy: Finally, what can be expected of the live show when you return to Union Transfer, both in terms of setlist and just the general vibe of the night?  Any chance people who attend both nights might get different sets?

Lindsey: If I tell you, it’ll ruin the surprise!!  Come see for yourself!

*Get your tickets for April 5th here.

**… and April 6th here.

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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.