When Lindsey Luff took the stage at Rockwood Music Hall on Friday night, the spotlights were cradling her in their lustrous glow. All eyes were on the singer-songwriter – who hails from Memphis TN, but decided to follow the music path when she moved to NYC six years ago – as she opened her mouth and freed her soothing, emotive vocals from their hiding place. The words? All straight from her self-titled first record – the release of which she was celebrating that very night, with many friends and loved ones present at the cozy Lower East Side venue. We interviewed the girl in the spotlight a few days before she welcomed the new record into the world, and talked about the personal – at times, even somber – inspiration behind the music she debuted onstage.
“It’s storytelling music. A lot of my music is biographical,” Luff told us. “I’m not trying to be anybody, I’m just trying to write music that helps me process my life. I make music for people, but it’s mainly just to process all the bullshit that has happened. I feel like when you hear a song about something you’ve been through, it makes you feel like you’re not alone.” For Luff, the connection is so indivisible, a question about the music often results in an answer about her own history. “Lots of people grow up with single parents,” she said suddenly, when discussing what inspired the work. “It shouldn’t be normal, but it is. My dad wasn’t there, and my mom was really sick when I was growing up, so I’ve had a job since I was like twelve years old. And I’ve just felt kind of stuck in this adult world from a very young age.”
“I think when I got to college and was able to just take care of myself, I got really angry and was like ‘What the fuck…I’ve been dealing with all of this?’” she explained. “It’s a lot of stuff that sits with you, like being bullied, and feeling like you just don’t fit anywhere, and not knowing, and just this kind of emptiness that hit me when I walked away from everything and was no longer in charge of things.” And though many of those feelings have just recently been given a name on the LP, Luff revealed that her love of singing is nothing new. “This record has been a long time coming. I’ve been singing since I was like four. My mom has those really embarrassing videos of me standing onstage,” she laughed. “Just solo stuff, with me in some kind of ridiculous fish dress or something.”
“But it’s the only place I feel like myself, actually,” said Luff. “I feel like I’m an awkward human being in life – like in general, talking to people, I’m always like ‘I don’t know if that went well.’ But when I’m onstage, I’m not like ‘Oh, this is gonna be awesome every time’ – but it’s like, you know what? I’m just gonna be me. If people like it, cool. And if they don’t, that’s also fine. But in real life, if people don’t like me, I get really worked up about it. So it’s like freedom, being up there. It’s really freeing just to be able let go.”
We heard her do just that at Rockwood, her 4-piece band band in full swing behind her, starting off strong with “Anything at All,” the vocally-challenging hook that opened the record itself. Quick to follow was “Until It’s True,” the song which she co-wrote with Brian Elmquist of The Lone Bellow, who guests on the studio version. To hear all the brand new tunes she treated us to in NYC, you can check out Lindsey Luff’s self-titled debut album on Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley