Captivating and chaotic bedroom punk duo, Lowertown, comprising Olivia Osby and Avsha Weinberg, enchants their audience with their unfiltered authenticity. Their latest release, “Skin of My Teeth,” is gritty, dark, and dynamic, truly capturing their raw, unfiltered selves. Intersect sat down with Olivia and Avsha to chat about all things visual inspiration, live shows, and making it on your own.
Your sound has transformed from a DIY bedroom pop to a more gritty rock sound, especially with your release of “Bline.” How would you describe the trajectory of your sound and how it's changing and continuing to develop?
Avsha: We're always in pursuit of trying to have fun. Whether it be like live or just in the recording sessions. And I think, for our record, “I Love To Lie,” We were kind of inspired pretty heavily with live performance and how to have something a little bit more energetic and get a mosh going and get people moving. I think like, we feel good about it, we feel good about what we've done. And now we're trying to experiment with new sounds. And I think we're just trying to keep on having fun
Olivia: I definitely think a big goal of the project is to never make a song that sounds like something we've already made. We started the project so young, and our tastes have changed over time. And we've just gotten into different music together, gone through different phases of life. And I think different music has resonated with us. I definitely don't think Avsha and I want to be playing the same music we were playing when we were 15 or 16. It’s just been growing alongside us. And we were definitely very angsty when we were writing “I Love To Lie.” [That was] right when we moved to New York, we were super overwhelmed by it. But this new project, we’re a little bit more settled in and I think it shows in the music, which is really fun, because I feel like just each project is just sort of reflective on like each period of our lives.
I love the idea of making sure it still makes you feel good, too. I think that's like something a lot of people lose track of. This is your first single following your work with Dirty Hit, tell us more about how that’s been informing this chapter of your musical journey?
Olivia: We signed with them, when we were graduating high school. And that period of time was really cool and taught us a lot about music. We had the opportunity to go to London and record a few times there. And it was honestly really crazy working with such a big label, that’s something neither of us expected at all. But I think with this new chapter, we just wanted to try to do things ourselves because the way that we go about music sometimes doesn't work well, doing it on a label because we are super spontaneous and like to try new things. One thing that is hard being on a label is you just have to wait a lot. Right now we're just in a phase of our lives where we want to be dropping things a lot and moving forward. And I think it's also easier sometimes not having a big team of people, just having a few essential people. It's definitely been interesting doing this project independently for the first time since we've left high school just because it's a little bit more nerve wracking. But it’s felt really cool. The tour we just went on: I had to book it all myself and that was really fun! We did all the merch ourselves and I think we already have the tools to do things independently and try that out and just get a frame of reference for how that feels like.
Avsha: We wanted to try what it would feel like to have an uninhibited flow of creativity, we were always like writing stuff and working together on things, and also working individually on things. With a label, it needs to be more down to a specific line. We've always been very hands on with our stuff. We're at our creative peak right now, we’re writing a lot of stuff and have a lot of different artistic pursuits. Having this uninhibited flow with an audience to listen to is a fun thing to try at this point in our lives.
Getting into “Bline” it’s very eerie with the visuals and vampy bass line, what’s the story behind that soundbite in the beginning?
Avsha: I kind of had that sound bite in the beginning, already. Usually before we start working on something like in the studio, we'll build the demo out. Either in my basement or Liv’s basement and we’ll send it back and forth to each other and build it up. The song was basically built around this hour long voice memo of me saying “I love to lie.” And I kind of just let myself speak. It ended up being the inspiration for a lot of the last project. But I think I was getting a little bit bored of my songwriting style. So I was like, ‘Okay, I want to do something that starts with a vocal idea, but not anything melodic.’ Just the words like a mantra. When I was younger, I was kind of a big liar. I really did love to lie all the time. I just didn't respond well with stress and so I would lie a lot. So I wanted to explore that part of my life and why I did that. So I let myself speak and then did the little bass line and then took it to our producer in London and we built the song out at the tail end of the session.
You guys have very unique visuals that you pair with your music. What's the inspiration behind the “Bline” music video?
Olivia: We did it in conjunction with our really good friend Hunter, who has done a lot of pictures for us. When we were on tour with beabadoobee he was our tour photographer and we did a live session with him. But Avsha, Hunter and I are all very strange people and have really weird things going on in our heads. I also think we have really similar tastes in movies and visual references. Avsha got really into weird video artists recently and was using them a lot as a reference in the past few music videos. But we’re all super into Harmony Korine and you could see a reference to him in that music video. There’s this one really weird video he made called “Trash Humpers” and it’s this family with these creepy masks going around. And a lot of Harmony’s stuff is tied to the South, which is where all of us are from, Hunter’s from Texas, and we're from Georgia. Also I think we just wanted something with a really shocking contrast. Which I think is really interesting, because you sort of settle into the music video being these two weird people in these masks, and then it catches you off guard when it hits the chorus. I feel like that is the two sides of us as a band aesthetically. One really really, weird, deranged side and then this high fashion, put together side. We just called Hunter and were like “Hey we want to do our next music video with you.” And then we started brainstorming all these things. I think a big thing we wanted to use for the imagery was the suitcase, because that is referenced a lot and the song and it feels pretty symbolic. There's a lot of references that are up for interpretation in there so I don’t want to outright say it but definitely some Harmony Korin.
Avsha: This was also a bit of a change because for some of our earlier videos we had big teams working with us, like “The Giving Mouth” video and “Burn On My Own” too. But more recently we've been wanting to explore video artists and individuals to see how they do it. So this one and “Bucktooth,” we did with one individual director, and just the three of us walking around and figuring stuff out as we went along. And I think those are some of our best videos because it feels the most genuine to us. Because we've always been so hands on and in control of a lot of a lot of the stuff that we do.
Olivia: There’s a lot less pressure when there’s one person you’re getting close to versus 50 people with million dollar cameras pointed at you. We've done three videos with big, big teams and a big budget and then we've done three videos with just us and one other person. And they just fit the music really well. This recent one is one of my favorites, and it was one of the smallest budgets we've had for a music video. It's pretty cool.
That’s cool. It sounds like you got to co-direct with them. But let's talk tour! What was the highlight of touring recently?
Olivia: This tour is one of my favorite tours we've done. It was the least drama and the most uplifting tour we’ve done. We’ve never done a headline tour before. We've done a bunch of support tours, which have been really awesome, but there's just a different feeling you get doing a headline tour. People are there to just see you, they know the words to your songs. It’s just very rewarding. It’s a different feeling than playing a 45 minute set where you feel like people are just waiting and you feel like you have to win them over. And that's exciting in its own way and a different kind of challenge. But it was nice pulling up to a venue early and getting a proper soundcheck and just having the people be there for you and know what to expect. Our live set is sort of weird sometimes and when we're opening, people don't really know what to expect and it can catch people off guard. It was nice because people were there for whatever we had to give. And it was short enough that each show felt very special and very different. And we weren't tired or had the shows start to homogenize. On tours longer than a month you start to dissociate a bit. On the last tour we did, it was a month and a half and the last portion of it the shows just started to blur together because it was just so long. [This tour] the band was just very in sync. It was really cool because I felt like we had a lot of control over every single facet of this tour. I just felt really proud of us for doing everything ourselves. We were tour managing, throwing the whole show, making all the merch and designing it. It was just very insular and it turned out really well. And it made me feel really confident that we can do things like ourselves and it can be successful.
A full circle moment! You’ve both extensively spoken about making each time you play a song live an entirely unique experience, transforming the tracks to be something new. How have you been adapting your new setlist to the stage?
Avsha: This works into the tour question as well because I think another thing that was very special on this tour compared to opening was that we do work off the audience a lot. We can feel when the audience is on board or when the audience is sort of lost. And with the support tours we would put a lot of effort into the sets and we’d have to change it up to work along with the crowd. Is this a lively crowd or a chill crowd? So this tour I’m focusing on building something that's really pretty and has a lot more dynamics. We don't leave a lot of empty space now in between songs. So having the parts in the songs exaggerating the down points along with the up points is the most important thing that we're focusing on. Not making it be 10 out of 10 energy, the whole set. That was our focus before. But now [we’re] making something that's really beautiful sounding and allows the audience to take a breath in quiet points. We're putting more energy into that so that we can feel that the crowd has a point to rest and feel a little bit more connected so it feels like a punch to their face when we go to the 10 out of 10 energy songs. We're incorporating a lot more electronics into it and focusing a little bit more on the sound rather than the energy.
So you guys just announced your upcoming EP “Skin of My Teeth”! What can audiences look forward to when it comes to that release?
Olivia: Something new. I don't know, keep your mind open. I think we’re trying some new sounds. But it’s also not straying too, too far. I think we’re always pushing each new project in a new direction. Some of the other songs are more organic feeling. “Bline” is definitely the biggest leap of sound that we’ve tried with this project. It’s been really rewarding and we're looking to do that also in future releases. I definitely think the people that already know our music and like it will like this project. But I think the song structures are a little bit different. It feels like a combo of the past two projects in a way. It feels like it fits into this phase and it feels like the closing of a chapter and opening up for the album we're writing right now.
Avsha: The main emphasis for this project is the closing of an era of our sound. I am not saying everything is going to be completely different from here on out. But this feels like this was kind of our late teens and early 20s. [...] Now, we’ve got different priorities, we’re living on our own, we’ve digested our feelings a little bit more. I think in every project we understand ourselves more and more. It’s still raw but it’s more inquisitive. We’re asking more questions to ourselves and we also understand a lot more. So I feel like [this EP] is the punctuation point of this era of our music and our younger selves.
For each of your releases, there has been a distinct album art style shift. What's the story behind the EPS art?
Olivia: We were originally going to go with a photo because we have used paintings in the last two [albums.] But I think sometimes paintings and artwork that aren't grounded in the real world can speak a lot to the emotion of a project. With the past to cover arts we've done, that have been paintings, I feel the emotion that is inside the record. The past few people I've found through the internet or were following their art obsessively for a long time. But [this time] Avsha and I were struggling with [the question of] ‘What image sort of encapsulates the feeling of this project.’ And we were really freaking out about it and put a lot of pressure on each cover to be really perfect. We were gonna use this photo that we had that we really liked, which also would have fit. But I showed him the paintings of this artist and he was like ‘Whoa, this is like, actually amazing.’ This one felt like the different phases of life or growing up and getting old. It just felt incredibly emotional. It just struck me with the composition. When we both feel the same intense emotion we just go with it. So I'm glad that artists was really down for us using her art, because I really fuck with that painting a lot.
Avsha: We usually have one artist that we use for the artwork for each project. We’ll use them for every single for that album drop. For The Gaping Mouth, we use an artist named Pablo Prada. And then we used an artist named Wanme (@wanmeibaobirenjian) for I Love to Lie. On the vinyl, the cassette and the single covers. But for this one, the music video inspired us so much we ended up doing the picture from the music video as the single cover. We're always open minded and we're trying not to keep to a specific structure. We don’t want everything to be the same if something doesn't strike us. So that picture that our friend Martin took struck us so much and these characters are one of our favorite parts of the project. The artists and the art that we consume during these periods of time always end up shaping the color that we see of that time period. That artwork feels like that point in my life. [...] I'll always think about this picture when I'm thinking about my early 20s.
Catch Lowertown on tour in Europe and stream their EP “Skin of My Teeth.”