Lola Kirke is best known for playing Hailey Rutledge on Mozart in the Jungle. Her story is much larger than the role and her music caught us at first listen. As we dug deeper we found a community of musicians from Cornelia Murr (see our interview) to Amo Amo.
Kirke has previously released an EP in 2016 of Spirit House and is releasing Heart Head West on August 10 on Downtown Records. The album includes singles “Supposed To”, “Monsters” and “Sexy Song”
The album is tracked live and is filled with brilliant introspective lyrics. We look forward to seeing Kirke’s story evolve on the road and among a community of artists. For info visit https://www.lolakirkemusic.com/
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Heart Head West?
LK: The biggest challenge was some really boring technical stuff that goes right over my head and had to do with mixing. The creative side was much much easier, as was the interpersonal side. I made this record with the help of many people I’m honored to call friends. They’re so talented!
FEMMUSIC: What was your vision for the album?
LK: Ultimately I just wanted the songs to sound the best they could and like they were all in conversation with each other, even though they’re about a range of things that aren’t necessarily. They’re really personal and honest songs and recording them in the honest way was important to me. I wanted them to look like photographs of people with no make up on. Neil Young’s Hawks and Doves was a sonic reference for us for that reason. That whole album is tracked live. You can almost hear the floorboards of the barn, it sounds like they’re about to burn to the ground!
FEMMUSIC: How did making Heart Head West differ from making your EP? What lessons did you learn making the EP?
LK: On the EP, Wyndham, my partner and producer and our dear friend Omar Velasco of Amo Amo basically play everything (with the exception of some searing lead guitar sounds by Lilah Larson and Jack Byrne, some keys by Mitchell Robe, and a little twelve string action by me). I had a ball making it but wanted to take a different approach altogether for the full length. So we tracked live to tape with a full band. It was so so fun. You can really hear the difference between those things though!
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Wyndham Garnett. How was he to work with? What did he bring to the project?
LK: Besides being one of my favorite musicians, Wyndham has also been a huge support to me as a musician. I’d been playing a long time but he really encouraged me to get out there and record my own stuff. I love working with him because he’s relentless and perfectionistic but also kind and even tempered. He communicates with other musicians so well and won’t stop until it sounds right. And we have similar taste in music so there isn’t any misunderstanding in that way. I really trust him.
FEMMUSIC: You’re signed to Downtown Records. Why did you sign with them? How are they to work with?
LK: I put out my EP through Portland based Spirit House and loved the community of powerful femme musicians it aligned me with and had similar intentions with this record. I honestly never fathomed that an actual record deal would materialize. So when Downtown came knocking, I was pretty surprised. Their passion for the project and hands off approach creatively were both compelling and moving to me.
FEMMUSIC: You’re most well known for Mozart in the Jungle. How has working at Mozart in the Jungle effected and influenced your own music?
LK: My music is very far from anything classical but there was a strange overlap where my characters confidence as a musician was growing at the same rate as my own. All those conducting scenes were really good practice!
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
LK: Typically I’ll start writing a song out of nowhere or at a really inconvenient time. Like on the subway or when I’m about to fall asleep. I’ll get excited by a new melody or a phrase that feels true and also like nothing I’ve ever written before. I’ll write them down or record them on my phone and them come back to it, usually late at with a glass or two of whiskey. It’s one of my most favorite past times.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
LK: This is an almost impossible question but I’m gonna say maybe “Angel from Montgomery” because it was the first song I could play on guitar and sing at the same time. It made me feel comfortable with myself as a musician in a way no song prior to it had.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
LK: Not that I know of! I’m also just so grateful to be coming into the industry at a time when so many other women artists are blooming and taking hold of their power.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
LK: Oh so many people! I am surrounded by the most incredible musicians. My pal and frequent collaborator Cornelia Murr, Lilah Larson, Cassandra Jenkins, Lily McQueen, Greta Morgan, Johanna Warren, my sister Domino Kirke, Amo Amo, Wyndham again and forever! I also love Bedouine, Hand Habits, and Courtney Marie Andrews. And I adore Sturgill Simpson. That would be fun. I’d be more than happy making music with any of these people.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
LK: Well I guess I’d like to see it based more on talent than on Instagram and who you know but that’s all industries. There are so many ridiculously talented artists out there who we don’t hear. I’d like that to change!