Snail Mail Slows It Down

Janice Headley
all photos by Jake Hanson (view set)

We happened to catch Snail Mail (real name: Lindsey Jordan) at a cathartic moment: she had just finished performing at the THING Festival in Fort Worden, WA — the very final performance of a two-year tour for her album Lush

While most 19-year-olds are enjoying summer vacation and making plans for college, Jordan has been pounding the pavement and promoting her debut release. And on August 30th, Matador Records reissued the Habit EP, a recording she made at age 15. 

Jordan was gracious to talk to KEXP about her plans with the next release, the Habit EP, and The Sims 4: Island Living.

KEXP: I read that you wrote about 30 songs that could have made it onto Lush. What are your plans for this extra music? 

Lindsey Jordan: Most of it I'm just done with. Some of it has been filtered in and out of new songs, in small ways, and I feel like I've repurposed ideas and little pieces of lyrics, but usually if I decide something is not album-ready, I just don't want anything to do with it. I'm not a big fan of B-sides and I feel like it takes me so long to write a song. I take a lot of pride in keeping outtakes separate from final takes. But the next thing is coming together very slowly and surely. 

Your label Matador Records recently reissued Habit, the EP you self-released at the age of 15. I read that when you recorded that, you didn't expect people to ever hear it. How does it feel now that it's out in the public? 

It's great. I haven't actually listened to it in probably more than a year. As time passes, I think I associate less and less with those songs, as one naturally would. But it's hard to reconcile having something I made when I was so young being part of who I am now and stay with you. So, I feel like I'm kind of constantly dealing with that. And when we play the songs live, I'm always trying to find new ways to keep it personal and interesting, 'cause I really wrote these songs when I was fifteen. But I don't regret putting them out. It feels like a good starting point and I've definitely grown as an artist since. 

You were mentored by Mary Timony of Ex Hex, Wild Flag, and Helium. How did you two meet and start working together?

We met at a show. I had some friends opening and the headliner was Thurston Moore. And she was just sitting at the bar. I had some friends who were taught by her. And we were just talking and I told her that I was looking to start guitar lessons with a different guitar teacher and she had time. It was really nice having her in my life at the time when I was like making lots of decisions for what I was going to do with Snail Mail, especially when I was picking people to do things. She knew a lot about financial aspects of things and like, who was sketchy and who wasn't. 

And she did the Matador thing, too, with Helium. It sounds like you were on a tight schedule to release Lush. I wanted to ask about the next album and how you're gonna approach that? 

I've taken a lot more liberties already on the next album because I feel that I was so naive and eager and excited when I was putting out Lush, that I kind of let everybody instruct me. And now I know what I want and I know that it's not to rush. People have tried to throw a timeline in place, and I've just been like, that's too bad. I have these songs that I'm constantly changing and developing. When I go back and listen to Lush, I'm always like, I could have added so much or taken away so much and I just don't want to ever feel like that again. And I think I really need a genuinely empty and relaxing break before I get back to work because I don't want to wear myself thin and start hating music. So I'm writing only when I feel compelled to sit down and write, because I want to. 

I read that you contributed a song to The Sims 4: Island Living. Are you a fan of the game? 

Yeah. Generally I think it's really cool. I don't play it anymore because I find it to be really all consuming in a way that I'm scared of. I wouldn't say I don't want to play the Sims but I don't want to find myself in an alternate reality. I think I would get too into it because it is really fun. 

Did you actually have to sing in Simlish? Did you learn it phonetically? 

They sent me a lyric sheet beside the actual lyrics. I think there is actually a formula to how they do it. There's not a lot of information about it publicly but it's just variations of the real words that are altered a little bit. It's so funny, so weird. 

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