Amplify Nights: Lowland Hum
It was shaping up to be a cold winter already with signs of it getting colder. We clutched our coats tightly as we carried video and lighting gear into a small, one-story house in East Nashville in the hopes that it would be warmer inside. Lowland Hum had just arrived from their last stop on tour, and after they finished setting up, Amplify's Forrest Brown sat down with Daniel and Lauren Goans from Lowland Hum to talk more about their musical influences, writing on tour, and the dynamic of making music as husband and wife.
FB: Where did you get the band name “Lowland Hum?”
LG: Well, when we started writing together– at first we were just going by Daniel’s name, I was just singing harmonies on his songs– then we started writing together and realized we kind of needed a band name. We had started to go by Daniel and Lauren Goans and it was just getting longer and longer. One morning, sitting up in bed, the words “lowland” and “hum” kind of popped into my head side by side. I’m kind of visual person, so I saw them in my mind. We sat with them a while– we hadn’t thought of those words, we’d been kind of thinking about what to call ourselves and that wasn’t one of the things we had thought of.
DG: We often, when we’re writing, we write about things that are sort of difficult to describe, like dreams, memory, identity, sort of things…and so, when she told me those two words, we thought about it and realized that seems to kind of refer to some kind of buzzing electricity underneath everything, as connecting things, and it’s kind of like mysterious, sort of in the same way that the subject matter that we tend to be drawn toward is also mysterious.
FB: So you’re originally from North Carolina. What kind of influence do you think making music in the South had on your songwriting?
DG: Oh, man. I think we’re completely marked by the location. For me, just kind of the folk storytelling that’s always been such a big part of North Carolina’s heritage, I know was surrounding me my whole childhood…I studied English literature in school, so story has always been huge to me, and I think the scenery really factors large into what we do. Our descriptions of so many things are influenced by North Carolina particularly.
FB: I was going to ask, going off of your musical influences, which artists are your biggest musical influences?
DG: A lot of the greats from the 60s, y’know…Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Harry Nielson, The Beatles…all that stuff.
LG: I think for me, melodically, Queen, and Electric Light Orchestra, Ella Fitzgerald…like some female jazz vocalists.
DG: Yeah, we also love Arcade Fire, U2, early Coldplay. Stadium rock stuff is always fun.
FB: I know you’re on tour right now, do you think being on the road has done anything to help you guys as artists? There’s a lot of new experiences when you’re on the road and it’s different from when you’re just in your hometown or in the studio.
LG: I think our most recent album in particular was really shaped by the previous year of touring. A lot of the songs were kind of written about experiences from the road. I think the constantly changing scenery is both inspiring but also wears on you, in a way, too.
DG: Yeah the last record, tons of the songs were us trying to describe these beautiful things we’re seeing on the road and also fight the isolation of being in a different town every day. So we would kind of open up a moment and describe in a sort of way to make space for the listener to be in there with us. It’s kind of odd, but it’s been really helpful to kind of have these songs to kind of share experiences of kind of the constant input of travel. We’re writing now for our next record and it’s happening again.
FB: You’re playing a house show tonight, do you play house shows often other than this?
DG: I think our first year as a band we played almost only house shows, but now I would say it’s 80-85% venues and 15-20% house shows. So on this tour we’ve done two others in about two and a half weeks. And the rest were venues.
FB: What do you think is different about house shows?
LG: I think feeling less of a separation between yourself and the people present. You have a greater shot at getting to know people and feeling a little more connected to a place. Also when it’s like a community of people coming together it’s just a different feel to be around a bunch of people that know and love each other than just a bunch of people that are coming out to hear music in a bar or a club or something…both are nice, it’s different, it’s definitely warmer, y’know?
DG: And I would just add one other thought, which is that, to get to sing in a space where people live, it kind of introduces a sense of regularity that we miss when we’re just in a bar or a club every night. So to do it in the midst of a club tour is really helpful, it kind of feels grounded, y’know?
FB: So lastly, I know you guys are husband and wife, how does that come into play when you’re writing music and does that impact your songwriting?
DG: Oh, absolutely. I think it’s been really good for our marriage to write together because we have to spend the time it takes to breathe, like how to express something or what to focus on in our career in terms of subject matter–
LG: –what we communicate–
DG: Yeah, in form and content, what do we want to write about, how do we want to talk about whatever experience we had, even just describing things.
LG: I think it forces us to work through a lot and I think it’s brought us to greater unity in our relationship for sure.