A couple months have passed since Tamara Lindeman released her fourth LP, her self-titled record as The Weather Station. Patient, eloquent, and entrancing, it's easily the Toronto songwriter's finest work.
Your fourth full length record came out last year. With a couple months between the release date and now, how has your connection to the record adapted? Do you find yourself developing new adaptations for songs on the record as you play them and hear them more?
Yes, totally, the songs have changed as we started playing them live. Everything got a lot faster and louder. We added harmonies, just cause we could and it worked. The guys have made the parts their own. We’re playing a pretty ornately arranged record as a simple four-piece rock band, so everything has morphed to suit that. But in a lot of ways, the way we play the songs live is how I intended them to be - it definitely has the energy I intended the record to have. I overheard the record in a store recently and was surprised at how slow and almost quiet the record was - I hadn’t realized how far the songs had travelled now we’ve taken them out on the road. It feels like the spirits of the songs have stayed consistent, but they have changed.
Your latest release was the Weather Station self-titled record. What made this time and this collection of songs worthy of the glorious self-titled designation? Do you believe there was something especially significant with this record that wasn't there for your past work?
Yes, this record is very different from my previous work, for me anyways. It’s the first record since The Line that is entirely my vision - my ideas - my weird perspectives expressed. It felt like it was fully and truly mine, so it felt good to self title it.
You've recorded each record in new spaces. Are you direct and intentional in the studio or is there some required level of improvisation when you go to lay down your songs? Do you have a formula you find most effective or have your recording styles and approaches been unique for each record?
Every record has been completely different. The Line was me alone in my room recording on and off for four years. All Of It Was Mine was a few days of hanging with Daniel Romano. Loyalty was a beautiful immersive process of collaboration in France. This record was in a lot of ways approached in a more normal way - we rehearsed, we recorded the beds, then I did overdubs, then we mixed it.
Absolutely there’s a certain amount of improvisation - I have yet to record a record having toured the songs and having a finished arrangement. For this record we rehearsed and nailed down some things, but lots of things happened in the studio as we recorded. The overdubs were pretty improvised, a lot of them were just me just messing around at home, and then others by the amazing musicians who played on the record. The strings were entirely arranged, so not improvised at all - all the parts written by me on a midi keyboard, and then translated into legible scores by my friend Mike Smith. That was a new and exciting idea for me. But generally, I think it's great to leave a certain amount of openness when going into a studio because then you can be informed by the sonic qualities of the recording - you can allow that to change the arrangement - and also because recorded music is just fundamentally different from live music. To me anyways.
You're bringing your live performance to Marfa Myths this year. Have you been or played in Marfa before? Do you amend or adapt your live performances based on the space you're playing in or the city you're playing to? Anything you're looking forward to about Marfa?
I have never been to or played in Marfa before, no. I’m excited to go. The lineup of that festival is amazing and so unusual. I wish I could stay to see everything.
Right now, me and the band are on a path of bringing the same energy to the show, whether it’s in a tiny club or a huge theatre or a church or a grimy bar. We’ve been looking to find consistency in what we present, to dig into the same well, to not be thrown off by a strange situation or a quiet audience or whatever the case may be. But of course every show is different too - you feel the audience - you are in different spaces within yourself. No two shows are ever really the same.
The Weather Station was the first record you self-produced. Do you have any formal training producing? What inspired you to take on the process independently? Were the result what you had intended or expected?
In music, the designation of producer is somewhat loose - but it essentially means the person creatively in charge - the person making the decisions - the person directing the process. I did self produce my very first record (The Line) and recorded and mixed that one also, but for the subsequent two records I’d collaborated creatively on the vision of the record. It was really great and necessary to take back that control - to make all the decisions and trust myself, after many years of thinking everyone else knew better than me. And it’s not that I necessarily know better than anyone else - but it took realizing that I had a specific vision, and whether or not my ideas were good or bad, it was important to follow them. I worked with great people - Howard Bilerman, who recorded the initial sessions - Darryl Neudorf who mixed the record - the many amazing musicians who played - who all brought a lot to the table. But in the end I did manage to direct the process and the outcome in my own way.
I had a pretty clear vision of this record going in - the sound, the vibe, some aspects of the arrangements - and it honestly turned out almost exactly how I imagined. It was and is what I hoped it would be.
As you tour and play your songs night after night while you're touring extensively, do you find inspiration to write new material or does the opposite effect set in? Are you motivated creatively while you're on the road?
Absolutely, I do some of my best thinking on the road, in the van looking out the window. It’s next to impossible to actually write on the road, as I never have any time or space or quiet, but I do have a lot of chances to think, which often leads to songs and emotions coming out when I get home.
I think too when you play the same songs for a long time, you start to see their weaknesses, and it pushes you forward to want to make something new and better than what you’ve done before. I definitely feel that way now, and am excited to have some time to be able to write again.