Lindsey Jordan, better known as Snail Mail, has been very, very busy. Speaking to the teenage star at Matador Records after a sold-out gig at London’s Oslo, she’s still buzzing, full of energy from the night before.
“It was a great night. It was so sick,” she enthuses.
Touring isn’t a new concept for Lindsey, who’s been and done this all before, despite the fact she’s only just about to turn nineteen. The last time she was in London, she was here for another sold-out show. This time, gigging in the city has become a little more intense, with the addition of back to back dates all over the USA, UK and Europe over the course of two months.
“Rapid-fire is an entirely new experience,” she laughs. “You have to change your attitude, learn to live differently. Touring before was like going on vacation and getting to go home afterwards. Now, we have to learn to live on the road.”
Despite barely having a moment to rest and recuperate, Lindsey admits that having to play a new crowd night after night isn’t the worst thing in the world.
“I’ve grown up and learned what works for me. It’s a skill, it’s tricky, but I like it. I love travelling, and I’m so excited to be doing this tour right now.”
Snail Mail released her first EP, ‘Habits’, in 2016. Since then, she’s been writing, touring and setting herself up for the release of her new album, ‘Lush’. To the Maryland-based singer, the term ‘lush’ isn’t simply a positive affirmation used predominantly by the Welsh amongst us. In her mind, the name draws on the ‘sensory immersive’ direction she’s taken the album, which promises deep storylines and all-encompassing sounds. According to Lindsey, the record will tell a story of personal growth.
“It starts off wistful and positive; then there’s a ‘fuck you’ song on there, ‘Full Control’. It levels out at the end of the record, with this self-actualisation song, ‘Anytime’, which is kind of an ode to the realisation that the most healthy thing you can do is separate yourself from relationships that aren’t conducive to self-growth.”
Lindsey confesses to being a perfectionist-slash-super-control-freak with very strong ideas of what she wants to create. In terms of the role she assumes as an artist, she sees herself primarily as a songwriter who plays shows, and when it came to creating the ‘Heatwave’ music video, the performative process didn’t come naturally, despite the polished final result.
“Outside of playing shows and writing music, I feel like a fish out of water and unskilled. It becomes so not my field that I get so flustered, and I don’t even want to do it anymore. I get really weird about the things that get aligned with Snail Mail; I don’t like it when people get their hands on my brand.”
Also, Lindsey would appreciate if people would make an effort to delve a little further into her music before automatically lumping her in with other women who also happen to play guitar and sing.
“We’re all making music which is different from one another, and when we’re thrown in together like that, it takes away from what we’re doing as individual artists. A lot of people don’t understand that being a woman isn’t a genre.
“You get those people who are like, ‘I love women!’, and I think they took the exciting fact that there are many women in music right now and ran with it in a way that devalues everyone’s individuality.”
Her straight-talking attitude goes hand in hand with a refined mix of musical heroes who have inspired her to love music since early childhood. She explains that Fiona Apples is her “biggest musical, performance and personal inspiration.”
“I saw her play with my mom when I was young, it was incredible. She’s not scared of being straightforward and giving herself to the audience. I’ve always been in awe of her; she’s just so bold.”
Other artists cited as influential in Lindsey’s formative years include Electrolene, Grizzly Bear and Paramore. Asked about her current tastes and her most-played on Spotify, Lindsey whips out her phone and reels off dozens of names, adhering to no specific genre.
“Velvet Underground, greatest classic band of all time. Casey Musgrave, any of her stuff. I like The Big Thief and Alvvays; those guys are doing some great work right now. Also, Crying, from New York.”
She hastens to add that she finds minimal-techno music pretty cool, too.
It’s suddenly very easy to see how Snail Mail came to find herself in the middle of a sold-out international tour. Lindsey possesses the confidence to point out what’s right and what’s not in the world, an infectious enthusiasm for music, and, perhaps most critically, the palpable desire to create something that’s totally her own.