If, all of a sudden, you've started to see the name Snail Mail everywhere you look, don't be alarmed – there's a good reason for that. It's the solo project of Maryland prodigy Lindsey Jordan, whose honey-sweet harmonies and semihollow strumming unwind like a nice, big mug of hot cocoa for the ears. Jordan has been ripping it up since age 16 (which was, mind you, a short three years ago), and with her 2018 debut album – the bright and esoteric Lush – she's caught the eye of every indiehead worth their turtlenecks. It's an infallibly powerful listen – sonically crisp and strikingly elegant, yet loose and lowkey enough that it feels impossibly personal.
This week, Jordan (and her bandmates in the live incarnation of Snail Mail) will make her debut on Australian stages. Between lucrative slots at The Farmer & The Owl, A Festival Called Panama and the Brunswick Music Festival – where she's in such high demand that she'll be playing two sets at the lattermost – there are two headline shows on the cards (one in Sydney and the other in Brisbane). Both are sold out, because of course they are – with how ravenous and massive her fanbase has grown in recent months, we're willing to bet solid money that the next time Snail Mail makes the trek Down Under, it'll be for a tour that sees Jordan and co. wrangle the country's most prestigious theatres.
Right before she hops on the plane over for this run, we got Jordan on the phone to wax lyrical on her sightseeing plans, her envy-inducing performance rig, and the forthcoming second Snail Mail record – because yeah, there's aready another album in the pipeline! How does this little legend find the time to sleep at night!? Goddamn!
Other than the shows themselves, what are you excited to get up to when you land Down Under?
We have a couple days off, actually, which is really rare for us – especially when we’re touring countries outside the States, because it’s just so expensive... I don’t actually know what’s going on, or why we have so many off days, but I'm not complaining. I would love to hold a koala – I think the whole band really wants to do that too. I kind of want to get around to doing a little bit of coffee tourism, because I’ve heard the coffee’s really good over there. I would love to just do a little sightseeing – I don’t even really know what I’m in for here!
In addition to your own run of shows, you’ve also got a few festival dates lined up, like The Farmer And The Owl this weekend and A Festival Called Panama. Do you like to get amongst the vibe at festivals and catch many other artists’ sets, or are you more of a backstage dweller?
Oh no, I love seeing other bands at festivals. It makes touring worth it for me! Festivals are my favourite part of touring, so I’m really excited for these ones. All these lineups at the festivals in New Zealand and Australia are crazy – I’m really excited to see Stella Donnelly and Beach House!
What do you think is the key to having the best time possible at a festival?
Water. I don’t really get drunk at festivals, because I find that being in the sun, and mixing that with alcohol and allergens and stuff is just kind of gross. I like to really capitalise on the festival catering – I will get to dessert, lunch and dinner! So drink some water. Try seeing as many artists as you can. Get some sun protection.
So it’s been about half a year since Lush came out – how do you look back on the record now that it’s been out in the wild for a little while, and crowds have had a chance to really soak it in?
I’m very proud of it – I think pretty much everything I went into the studio trying to accomplish, I accomplished. I was really going for a sort of clean minimalism and… Not minimalism in the traditional sense of, like, actual minimalism, but I didn’t want there to be a lot of bells and whistles. And I feel like now that I’ve had so much time to play those songs live, and now that we’re starting to think about the next record, I’m more interested now in spending time in the studio to work on more diverse instrumentation, and work off of examples that are a little less straightforward.
Hold up, you’re already working on the next album!?
Yeah! It’s actually insane. I wouldn’t have thought, when I put Lush out, that this would be how it goes, but it’s sort of how it goes. No one is forcing me to do anything along a timeline, but it's sort of how other artists work – you're supposed to always have another record in the works. There's definitely a sort of peer pressure, or an expectation that goes on behind the scenes, just because of how long it takes to make and release records. The writing process is actually pretty unforgiving.
Is it stressful to be juggling this hectic touring cycle for Lush with the pressure of writing for a new record?
I only write when I absolutely want to and feel inspired to, and usually that means when I’m at home at my parents’ house. Every now and then, I have ideas that I just need to get down, and as soon as I feel like I’m burning myself out or getting frustrated, I just put the guitar down for a couple weeks and pick it back up later down the line. As far as the new material goes, it's sort of just pent up ideas and feelings that I’ve had over the past few months, which have come from not being able to write while I'm on the road and not feeling like I’m in an environment that’s apt for doing that. It’s actually been so long since I wrote the songs for Lush, so it feels nice that I have all these raw ideas and feelings and stuff, and now I’m just kind of trying to make sense of them all.
Do you think we might hear some new Snail Mail in 2019?
Yeah, definitely not [laughs]. I think that I’m going to keep writing into next year before I even start recording. Even if I had enough songs for a record, I want to give myself the opportunity to change as much as I need to, and let the songs shift and shape themselves over time.
Do you have a favourite guitar at the moment?
I’ve been playing a D’Angelico – they’re this really small guitar company out of New York, and they sent me this really beautiful semihollow jazz guitar that I’ve been writing on. It has such a warm tone that sounds perfect for the kind of stuff I'm playing, and it's been a really great tool for me whenever I go to write. I've found it so inspiring, just in its tone alone – so I'm definitely taking it into the studio to use. And I love my American-made Fender Jaguar – that is, like, my number one tour guitar. It takes really well to all of my pedals.
What’s on your pedalboard at the moment?
Almost exclusively Earthquaker pedals. They’re a personal favourite of mine – I really like their stuff, and I really like their intense, crazy boost pedal. And then I have this thing called a Data Corrupter, which makes this really crazy noise that we've been using for live intros and stuff. And then I have a pretty standard chorus pedal, a clean boost, and a phaser from this North Carolina company, Rabbithole Effects.
Saturday March 2nd - The Farmer & The Owl, Wollongong NSW
Tuesday March 5th - Oxford Art Factory, Sydney NSW
Thursday March 7th - The Foundary, Brisbane QLD
Friday March 8th - Brunswick Music Festival, Melbourne VIC (6:00pm start)
Friday March 8th - Brunswick Music Festival, Melbourne VIC (9:30pm start)
Sunday March 10th - A Festival Called Panama, Launceston TAS
Wednesday March 13th - Galatos, Auckland NZ
Thursday March 14th - Meow, Wellington NZ