Artist: The Lowest Pair
Hometown: Olympia, Washington
Latest Album: Horse Camp
Rejected Band Name: The Goodle Days
Answers by Palmer T. Lee
How often do you hide behind a character in a song or use “you” when it’s actually “me”?
Oh, this is very common practice in both directions. Sometimes a writer will take on a character as well, using “me” when its actually someone else. And that character could be a real person or quite frequently an amalgamation of people and experiences both real or concocted. Sometimes topics can feel a little too personal while they also feel relevant and powerful to write about and share so a new character is born of necessity. And of course, sometimes the most potent way to express this seems to be to keep it personal and use “me” when I mean “me” and yet the situation may not be 100% literal or accurate to the source. I mean, don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story, eh? The most important thing is to find what best serves the song, how the intention of the piece will be conveyed most effectively.
What other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc. — inform your music?
I think it’s fair to say literature is the largest non-music art form that influences our music. While we have both always pursued musicianship, developing our technique and skill set, learning bluegrass and old time fiddle tunes, etc., we are songwriters first and musicianship is largely part of that toolbox. If someone were to deep dive into our lyricism they would likely find a lot of sampling and referencing of whoever we were reading or moved by at the time. And further, our styles are pretty influenced by writers as well. The playful word and phrase bending of e.e. cummings, the literary landscape paintings of Steinbeck, the psychospiritual paradigm twisting of Thich Nhat Hanh, to name a few.
If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?
It’s truly a blessing to find good work, to do something that feels important to both yourself and for others. On a personal level, we get to create these little tools that we can return to over time. Little devices we can process things through, both intellectually and emotionally. If a song doesn’t seem to be serving us (we’re not feeling it) it tends to gradually slink out of the set list. If it’s a song that has spent a lot of time with us there is probably a reason for that and these songs will likely return to rotation later with a whole new set of meanings and associations. The great bonus of this craft is that other people get to use them as well. Listening to a record can transport you to somewhere you didn’t know you needed to go, somewhere you forgot was there, somewhere you’ve been trying to figure out how to access. And in a live performance we all get to do that together, everyone on their own trip but also sharing the space and time with each other (a wonderful social experience for introverts! Ha!).
What rituals do you have, either in the studio or before a show?
Whenever possible I love to wash my hands before playing instruments, especially before a concert. There is something resetting and care-taking about it.
Which elements of nature do you spend the most time with and how do those impact your work?
A significant part of being a writer is spending time not writing, or at least not making anything, maybe thinking about writing, maybe not at all, maybe not even identifying as a writer for a while, maybe collecting notes from an overheard conversation or trying to describe the wind just for fun, or maybe just being quiet for a few days.
Kendl spends a lot of time hiking the Cascade and Olympic mountains and running through the densely forested parks of Olympia. I seem to frequently find myself living in the woods or an otherwise rough-and-tumble environment where you might need to walk fifty yards to do your business or cook and it’s quiet and the elements have a say in the flow of your day.
I think these influences can be both heard and intuited in our music. Place names will find their way into our stories, critters and plants, a sense of awe or isolation or reverence or a passing conversation with the colors and smells of a quiet dawn.
Photo Credit: Molley Gillispie