Early last week I was listening to Thin, the newest release from Charlottesville folk duo Lowland Hum, and thinking about this blog post, when I reached out to a good friend to see if he had heard them before.
Turns out he had and, in fact, had crossed paths with Daniel and Lauren Goans, the married couple who make up Lowland Hum, not long ago.
“I spent most of the day hanging with them at a festival last year,” he said, “and they were a very interesting couple, in many ways breathtaking. They are dedicated to making music their own way, without worry about levels of success other than where they currently are.”
Having never met Daniel and Lauren myself, I did feel a sense of recognition and agreement with those words. The collection of songs that became Thin is, at bare minimum, interesting, if not purely captivating and hypnotic, so it stood to reason that the musicians behind them be interesting people as well.
My notions were confirmed as I dug deeper, learning that Daniel and Lauren partner to create a holistic musical experience, from the songs themselves to album artwork, live videos, and even lyric books that are shared with audience members.
I recently caught up with Lauren to chat about the new record, working with one’s spouse, and this weekend’s record release show at The Southern.
BRO – Are there any distinct challenges being creative partners with your spouse?
LG – Certainly! I think we tried really hard to separate our work life from our home life in the beginning of our collaboration together, but it didn’t take long to realize how unrealistic that is. Of course, whatever is going on in our personal live affects our working relationship. It means we spend a lot of time working through things to stay on the same page. If we aren’t in unity about something, our work is neither productive nor enjoyable.
BRO – Describe your songwriting process. Do you schedule time together or strike when the iron is hot, so to speak, and work when inspiration stirs?
LG – We tend to work in cycles. We go through phases throughout the year when we try to make songwriting a part of our daily practice. We have also taken writing retreats when we can squeeze them into our tour schedule. In the months leading up to recording, we devote a significant portion of our days to editing and fine-tuning songs we have been working on throughout the year. And, of course, sometimes ideas surface unexpectedly, and we try to give them room to grow when that happens.
BRO – I have never heard of a band providing lyric books to its audiences. What was the inspiration behind that?
LG – I am a visual processor, so I have always found that I connect to lyrics more deeply when I can see and hear them. When we first started playing shows together, we wanted to create hospitable experiences of presence for people. The lyric books came out of those early brainstorms about how to do that for our audiences. In 2012, we made the first few generations of lyric books entirely by hand, using our home printer, stamping simple illustrations on each book and binding them using a special hand-sewn method. It took us weeks. Now we pay a great print shop in North Carolina to print and hand bind them. The books still have that magical, handmade charm.
BRO – We are featuring “Thin Places” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?
LG – “Thin Places” was written during a writing retreat on the eastern shore of Maryland at a property overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. It is one that Daniel mostly wrote, and the lyrics recall several instances of experiencing wonder in a sudden and surreal way that resulted in gratitude. The song also references Andrew Wyeth, whose work seems to share a color palette with the landscape of the Chesapeake Bay.
BRO – You are set to play The Southern this weekend. Excited to share these tunes with the hometown family?
LG – We are thrilled to share these songs with the hometown crowd. The album was recorded about a mile and a half from the venue, so it feels all the more celebratory to have the release show at The Southern.
Lowland Hum returns home to Charlottesville on Friday to play The Southern Music Hall and we want to give you the chance to catch the show for free! Take a chance on the trivia question down below and shoot your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. A winner from all correct answers received by noon tomorrow (Thursday, Feb. 16) will receive two passes to the show.
Question . . . . Prior to being known as The Southern, what name did this venue go by?
And be sure to take a listen to “Thin Places,” along with tracks from The Sadies, Otis Taylor, Scott Biram, and more on this month’s Trail Mix.