Q&A with Meagan Grandall of Lemolo

On the heels of a huge 2013, Lemolos Meagan Grandall debuts a host of new songsbacked by a different drummer.

Last year, dream-pop duo Lemolo earned the #1 spot in City Arts’ Best New Music issue, then proceeded to tour the West Coast, play the Timber! Music Festival and collaborate with local dancers to create Lemolo and the Kaleidoscope Dance, a special performance that set ballet and contemporary dance to the band’s entire debut album, The Kaleidoscope. Capping off a remarkable, pivotal year, Lemolo also released A Beautiful Night, a feature-length live DVD produced by the team that made the documentary Welcome to Doe Bay.

Now the band is gearing up for a new chapter. Drummer Kendra Cox amicably left Lemolo in August, but principal songwriter and lead singer Meagan Grandall continued to chart a steady course for the band, working on a slew of new songs—many of which she’ll perform when Lemolo opens for Mary Lambert on Feb. 1. Seattle Rock Orchestra drummer Emily Westman is sitting in behind Lemolo’s drum kit for the set.

You’ve written songs as a self-contained entity for a long time. How, if at all, has your songwriting changed with Lemolo’s line-up change?
It’s hard to say how the process has changed, because some of these songs I’ve been working on for years. I started writing a lot of these when I was playing with Kendra a couple of years ago, and they’ve been something I’ve kept around and worked on when the time was right. Some of the newest ones have come to me in the last month or so. Something that’s a little bit different is I’m firstly making sure I can play the song live—keeping the live performance in mind first and foremost, which is something that I didn’t do with the first album.

A lot has been made of the chemistry between you and Kendra onstage.
I think the reason why people noted the chemistry between Kendra and I is because we were having fun. We were good friends, we were just loose and feeling the music, and kind of giving it our all. But it feels really energizing playing new songs with Emily.

What do you feel like you’ve learned about the music business as a whole since Lemolo started?
Overall, the main lesson I’ve learned is just the value of continuing to work as hard as you can. Make things happen for yourself; create opportunities for yourself. I feel grateful because I had a lot of mentors along the way that gave me a lot of guidance, and lots of great advice. But a lot of it was just trial and error, I think. Keep trying, and you’ll find a pattern that works for you.

Do you have a timetable for Lemolo’s follow-up album?
Nothing’s set in stone as far as when I’m gonna start recording and when the album will be finished. But my goal is that, after this tour, I’ll have a really solid idea of what I want to be on the album, and how I want it to sound. So probably post-tour, mid-February, I’ll be ready to start making more concrete plans for recording.

Is this going to be another 100-percent independent release for you?
It’s up in the air. I’m hoping it’ll all be independently funded, but we’ll have to see how much money I have by the end of the tour.

You’re an established musician now. Given the experience you’ve gained, what kind of advice would you offer to people in general, and women in particular, who are just getting started in the music business?
Well, it’s funny you say ‘established career:’ I appreciate you saying that, but I feel like I definitely have a long way to go, still. When I started the band and started playing live I was really intimidated, mainly because I never saw any other girls. The whole industry is pretty male-dominated, from the booking agents in clubs to the sound people to the door people. So I think when I started, what I would have wanted to hear from someone, especially a woman who’d been doing it for a couple of years, was mostly to not let it scare you—to be yourself, and to not worry about it. If you’re making music that you love, and it makes you happy, that’s all that should matter.

Lemolo opens for Mary Lambert at Showbox at the Market on Feb. 1.

Illustration by Shannon Perry