Q&A: Lower Dens's Jana Hunter On Nootropics, Gender Dynamics In Music, And Listening To Christian Radio On Tour
Baltimore-based Lower Dens' latest album Nootropics swirls, making it hard to find your musical footing. Yet somewhere in this whirlwind of lush guitars and muffled vocals, a balance is found, and the chaos lends itself to a sweet, blissful pop venture. Tonight, the band brings that anarchic sound to New York and headlines the Bowery Ballroom. A few weeks ago on the eve of America's birthday, lead singer Jana Hunter stopped on the side of the road between San Francisco to Portland to chat with Sound of the City about how their latest record isn't a concept album, gender dynamics in music, and what you can learn from conservative radio.
The response to your record has been overwhelmingly positive. How have you responded to it?
I've been doing this long enough to know not to pay too much attention to press, regardless if it's positive or negative, because its influence can just be too powerful and once it starts impacting your own opinion of your work, it changes your workand not for the better, I don't think. Regardless if they like you. The only thing that really matters to me at all is the direct communication with people who are involved in some way without professional attachment, the fans. That has been really good. People seem to be into the record, and they say that it's a grower, which is something I appreciate in music, so generally I feel pretty satisfied. Generally, people are coming to shows and they're excited. There's nothing else I could ask for.
How do you feel the record is different than Twin-Hand Movement?
I think it's more different than it is continuous, in my opinion. We're working with the same group of people, with some of the same equipment, the same place and our backgrounds, so it has a certain amount of crossover, but we very much intentionally tried to move in a more considerate direction all the time. Trying to spend more time considering what we're doing, and learning how to articulate exactly what we want to express. I feel like we did that. We were very determined to do that, and I feel like with this record, the concepts are more clearly articulated, the aestheticalthough might be broader to some peopleseems, to me, more defined. It's the work of people who have been playing together for four years, as opposed to two years. It's much more as a unit, versus a group of people.
What did your experience together allow to happen in the studio?
I'd compare it to any relationship that is a productive one. We've spent so much time with each other that we tend to move towards things collective without needing to go through any arduous to go in that direction together. There's no quibbling over the picture, for the most part. We know what we're doing, and it seems to be we do that well and efficiently. We did find ourselves arguing about details, sometimes.
What's the arguing like?
[Laughs.] The arguing is so stupid. It's like, "I think this part should be heavily modulated." And then the other person is like, "Well, I don't." And they're like, "Well, I do." That sort of thing.