Firing up Brooklyn’s indie-pop theatrics

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Firing up Brooklyn’s indie-pop theatrics

Chic indie-pop outfit Lucius have a fantastic artistic bond


Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, the lead vocalists with Lucius, who play Dublin on September 8
Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, the lead vocalists with Lucius, who play Dublin on September 8

If you saw the recent Roger Waters concert in the 3Arena, you probably noticed a striking brace of musicians on stage who threatened to outshine the ex-Pink Floyd leader’s prop department and general rock theatrics.

Two backing singers, perfectly synched in style, harmonics and overall vibe, brought vocal power and dexterity to Floyd’s canon like a pair of indie-pop bookends. Their names are Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, and touring with Waters is only a small part of what they do.

In their day job, they record and tour under the name Lucius. If you’re a lucky ticket holder for their upcoming sold-out show in St Patrick’s Cathedral, you’ll already know this. For everyone else, they just might be – as Rolling Stone put it – “the best band you probably haven’t heard of”, even if they are feeling the burn the morning after Waters’s show.

Jess frowns half way through a point she’s trying to make. “Sorry, I’ve been up all night – not by choice! My husband’s been sick. So my brain’s not working.” Holly tries (and fails) to keep a straight face.

We’ve been discussing the political nature of Waters’s music and any expectations on the Brooklyn duo to address women’s issues such as the glass ceiling in their songwriting.

“Do you want to bring attention to something or just move forward in your own way to show how things could be?” Jess ponders aloud, “living your life the way that you want to be seen, as opposed to what they expect your experience to be?”

“We’re two women writing together but we’re coming as two different individuals,” Holly adds. “We just write about things that feel personal and come naturally. It’s not about, ‘I am woman, hear me roar!'”

Thirteen years ago, at a campus party in Berklee College of Music, Boston, the pair were introduced by mutual friends. Although not a note had been played, it quickly became clear that each had a musical essence the other liked to be around.

“I remember this weird detail,” Holly recalls. “I was drinking red wine and there was this beige couch, and I was thinking ‘I hope I don’t spill…’ We were standing there and started talking about soul music and The Beatles, and just shooting the s**t. Then, she was like, ‘OK, we’re getting together tomorrow to make music’. We never looked back.”

Indeed they didn’t. In 2013, after years of collaborations and session work, the pair released their first LP Wildewoman to much acclaim. That same year, their first Irish show saw them play to a packed-out Whelan’s audience that somehow knew all the lyrics – a phenomenon repeated in cities across the world.

Mixing pop, indie, gospel, soul, electronic and folk, all wrapped in a snazzy symmetrical aesthetic, Lucius had hit upon something, a feeling confirmed with follow-up Good Grief (2016) and Nudes this March.

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Bar the odd dispute (“we can count them on one hand”), the relationship is, Jess feels, the healthiest they’ve experienced in their lives.

“In terms of intimacy and vulnerability and time spent with one another but still liking being together, it’s sort of a miracle,” she says slightly sheepishly, looking at Holly. “Especially for two women, where you can have ‘hormones’ and ‘female fire’.”

Lucius play St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin on September 8. Details at aikenpromotions.com and also at ilovelucius.com

Sunday Indo Living

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