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Q&A with Snail Mail | Feature Interview

By Julia Leiby

Already a fixture in the DC music scene while gaining attention from publications such as the Le Sigh, Lindsey Jordan and her band Snail Mail recently went on their first tour. Having just finished her junior year of high school, Snail Mail is playing a weeklong string of shows in the northeastern US. Jordan has a quiet power to her songs reminiscent of songwriter Maryn Jones (All Dogs, Yowler, Saintseneca) in the way she encapsulates heartbreak and what it means to grow up. Snail Mail released their EP, Habit, on the DC label Sister Polygon Records on July 12, following Garageband recordings Lindsey released in May of 2015. Written in the suburbs of Baltimore, Habit is a 6-song chronicle of adolescent restlessness and crushes. I caught up with Lindsey over email and asked her some questions about the new EP and her songwriting process.

JL: When did you first start playing shows and writing music?

LJ: I started writing music in 7th grade and just started playing real shows in like October of 2015! When I was six I was playing like awful restaurant shows with my guitar teacher lol!

JL: What was your typical songwriting process for Habit?

LJ: Writing Habit was definitely all over the place and messy! Lots of writing songs in full and then throwing them away and putting down my guitar for weeks or months on end! Mostly the songs came from me being really upset or feeling a strong emotion (lots of crushing;) ) and letting myself wind down to a point where I could put my feelings into something more palpable.

JL: What bands in the DC scene and beyond do you draw inspiration from?

LJ: My top fave bands in the DC scene are (were) Neonates, Priests, Big Hush, Flasher, and On-J! I'm probably leaving something out! Outside of DC music I really love listening to Broadcast, Electrelane, Grouper, The Replacements, Joni Mitchell, etc etc forever. I love stuff with super thoughtful songwriting, where you can tell a lot of emotion and work went in! I also just found out about this new band Westkust and I can't get their songs out of my brain!!

JL: Tell me about how you began to be involved with Sister Polygon?

LJ: I met most of the SPR folks by going to shows! They are true homies and are super helpful/supportive! <33

JL: A lot of the songs on the EP are concerned with feeling down/depression, is that something you deal with?

LJ: I don't think I have depression! I definitely sometimes take things really hard though and end up spilling all of my guts into my songwriting, which is sorta how I like to be expressive!

JL: What is high school like for you?

LJ: High school is fine to be honest. I'm terrified right now because I'm about to start the college application process, but other than that I have a great core group of friends at school and I love English class, so I'm kind of just taking it one day at a time and soaking up the resources I get through school ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

JL: What do you see yourself doing in the future after HS in terms of music / general life plans?

LJ: I wish I could give a straight answer! I had a really great time on tour, so hopefully I can keep doing Snail Mail stuff and maybe get a real life job in the mean time. Hopefully college is on the horizon as well.

JL: You recently did a Snail Mail tour, how did it go? What was your favorite show on tour? Do you want to do another one in the future?

LJ: Tour was the best time ever! We had such amazing people helping us with each show and we all got to see a bunch of cities we'd never seen and sorta get to know each other better than we already did, which was really sweet and amazing. My favorite show was Western Mass with Mal Devisa, Alexis Hott, and Drool! Shouts to Jaclyn Walsh forreal! Best show and super beautiful city.

JL: What was the recording process for Habit like?

LJ: It was really really tough. I had bronchitis throughout the entire process and definitely puked in Jason's yard, which made it super tough to do vocal takes I was satisfied with, but all and all recording with Jason and Gideon was really fun! I hope they had as much fun as I did.

JL: How has your environment (suburban Maryland) affected your songs and songwriting?

LJ: Suburban Maryland was definitely a driving force in my songwriting in that before I had a driver's license I was feeling really trapped and isolated. Now I'm pretty happy here, though! I spend most of the time in my car leaving Ellicott City, but whenever I'm gone for prolonged periods of time I find myself really missing it. It's super peaceful and cute.

JL: What song on the EP are you most proud of / feel like it conveys what you wanted it to and why?

LJ: I'm definitely most proud of “Dirt”! Melody-wise and lyric-wise. I wrote it intending for the message to sorta be a, "hey don't forget to love yourself, while you're busy being in love with someone else," type of thing. It's absolutely something I had to remind myself of and most accurately describes the way I was feeling when I wrote it, so it hits home really hard and whenever I perform it I remember exactly how I felt when I wrote it.