By Jordan Reisman
It’s no mystery to anyone that symmetry and attractiveness in human beings go hand in hand, we all learned it in our high school health class. But could a more symmetrical band be more pleasing to the listener? That’s the question that has festered on the minds of countless music critics for years and it seems like Lucius of Brooklyn, NY have cracked the code.
You see, they are blessed with the one-two punch of Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe, the band’s two lead singers. They look alike, they dress alike and they largely sing the same parts, filling out the band’s vocals with beautiful singularity. In true Discovery Artist form, Lucius is riding the high off of their new effort, Wildewoman, released on Oct. 15. BTR was able to speak with half of the duo and one fifth of the overall band, Holly Laessig, as she was en route with the band to a show in Northampton, MA.
Lucius was borne out of the friendship of its two aforementioned lead singers, and that relationship really makes up a big part of why they have such an intriguing dynamic. Laessig and Wolfe have been making music together for “almost a decade,” though going through a lot of lineup changes to find the unique voice that Lucius has now. A few years back when she and Wolfe moved to New York, Laessig met the now drummer of the band, Dan Molad. She said they were “looking for something new and more energetic.” Molad agreed to “collaborate on the conditions that [they] would have really no boundaries.” The band had no intentions at the beginning to even make an album but as they started recording, they took on new members like Peter Lalish and Andrew Burri. Through what Laessig describes as an “organic process,” Lucius was now ready to be a real band.
The aforementioned friendship between Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe came about when they found they had mutual friends at Berklee College, along with mutual influences as well. Laessig admits they are the “inseparable” types of friends due to “being in a van twenty four hours a day,” finishing each other’s sentences and whatnot. Their moment of realization of a musical chemistry occurred when they went into the studio for the first time to record a cover of “Happiness Is a Warm Gun”, where when deciding what parts to sing they sang “the same melody at the same time, in unison.” What they came upon was a “doubled vocal.”
“It all stems from her and I finding out that we had this third voice that we could create by singing together in unison especially. We played off of that and expanded upon that, even in the visual aspect of the live show and the visual aspect of the art that we use for music videos and graphics,” says Laessig of this harmonious discovery.
Going along with the doubled vocals as well as singing in unison, the band likes to play with this idea of symmetry and “two as one.” As Laessig mentioned before, the idea permeates all aspects of the band from their cover art to live setup.
“For the live setup, we’re facing each other with the two keyboards, there’s two guys on either side of the drums and then Pete’s in the back in this Rorshach kind of thing. We like to touch upon that idea as a visual for the graphics and music videos,” she explains. “That goes for the matching outfits. The duality comes from us singing as two lead singers singing as one lead singer. When we first started, we both wanted to sing lead, we both wanted to sing together, we both wanted to lead a band and write. We were like, ‘How can we do this exactly?’”
This decision in turn sets Lucius apart, as modern music is flooded with “girl groups” as well as “female-fronted bands” but a band with two female lead singers on the same part? Not so much. Though the two grew up in the “girl power generation” with the Spice Girls, they prefer to show by example instead of making it their M.O.
“I’m intrigued to see what women artists are doing these days as far as playing more instruments, being more of musicians and artists, being creative, coming up with cool visual ideas and showing off that side of more than the pop aesthetic. Less of a surface thing and more of women really doing stuff, collaborating and helping each other, being creative and hands-on; making tangible things for women to look up to,” says Laessig.
Lucius’ debut full-length, Wildewoman, really takes these ideas and puts them into practice. The name comes from a conversation Laessig and Wolfe had about when they were young, as they were each going through tough times then as kids who felt their creativity stifled and not being able to express. As a “road less traveled” kind of youngster, Laessig’s mother referred to her as a “wildegirl.” The two put their heads together over what a wildegirl would eventually become when she grew up and the album concept was born.
Laessig says about the concept that shaped the album, “It’s this person that comes to terms with being their own person and in fact, celebrating it. I think a lot of the songs on the record are that journey.”
A few of the lyrics on Wildewoman, specifically in the first two songs, the title track and “Turn It Around”, read as characterizations of some kind, though it’s unclear to whom they are referencing — the first person or second — if anybody at all. As it turns out, the projection is, as so many writers insist, just that; the characters they were really articulating are actually themselves.
“A lot of the songs are stemming from pep talks that we are having, we’ll have these pep/coffee talks in our songwriting sessions and it starts out being in reference to ourselves or to a friend, something personal. Then it goes outward to the listener,” says Laessig about Lucius’ narrative device.
What’s next to come in the evolution of the Wildewoman and Lucius at large? Take it straight from the wildewoman herself:
“Like a Wildegrandma? I think coming into your own is something that doesn’t go away, I think you finding yourself and being comfortable with it shouldn’t go away.”
And you know that when she says “you” she means herself, but with “us” following suit.
Become your own Wilde-something by clicking here.
Check out Lucius’ music and interview on the latest episode of Discovery Corner on BTR.