Interviews

Veröffentlicht am 23.06.2021 | von Hella Wittenberg

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LUCY DACUS – don’t waste your words

Foto-© Ebru Yildiz

Einen längeren Blick zurück zu werfen, ist ja nicht immer nur schön und mit rosaroter Brille möglich. Manchmal tut das Beschäftigen mit der Vergangenheit auch sauweh. Alte Wunden reißen auf, unangenehme Gefühle kommen ungefiltert wieder hoch. Wer will das schon? Lucy Dacus. Der US-Singer-Songwriterin geht es gerade so dermaßen gut – frisch geimpft, Krabben zum Geburtstag, umgezogen und raus aus der toxischen Beziehung – dass sie sich jetzt traut, sich ausdauernd umzudrehen. Ihre ganze Platte Home Video handelt von dem, was sie hinter sich gelassen hat und wie sie sich nun dazu verhält. Das ist irrstes, emotionales Autoscooter-Fahren, nur dass einem Dacus’ honigweiche Stimme immer zu verklickern scheint: Du, das ist schon alles okay, genau so wie es ist.

Wir trafen die Musikerin, die die große Poetik im Kleinen perfektioniert hat, zum Zoom-Interview und sprachen über nächste Pläne, über Songs, die Leben verändern können und darüber, wie viel Mut es braucht, um erst aus einer blöden Beziehung herauszukommen und dann darüber zu schreiben.

Happy belated birthday! You turned 26, do you have something that you definitely want to achieve until you turn 30? Like, writing a book?
It’s funny you say that, I actually hope to write a book.

Do you want to try out writing fiction or do you see a book as an extension to your songs?
I feel worried about trying to do anything. I need to just write and see what it is, I don’t like the feeling of trying. I know that sounds really bad. But even in songwriting: the best ones are the ones that just happened. Editing and rewriting is very important, but the initial writing should be like an outpouring.

So you sit down and the inspiration is just there and you write and write? It sounds amazing!
I can’t really choose when to write a song, but that would be great. Also it’s not really like sitting there for me. I’ll be out with friends or be on a walk and then I’ll be writing a song in my head and be like: Oh no, I need to go home! And hope that I remember it by the time I get home. It almost feels like getting sick before I get to a guitar.

On Instagram you reflected on your old song Night Shift from the record Historian and wrote down: „As of today, it’s been five years and the songs do sorta feel like covers. If Night Shift has ever meant anything to you, you have no idea what that means to me.“ That’s you can say that now about this toxic relationship that you sing about in that song does really feel like a big milestone, right?
Yes, for sure. I feel much safer now. And when I wrote it I was like: Oh yeah, I don’t really think about this anymore! And it used to define my life and I wanted to protect that relationship so much – even afterwards.

Even afterwards? What does that mean?
I wanted it to work, and once I was out of it, I wanted it to have been a success. I didn’t want it to end on bad terms. And I didn’t want the person to feel bad about making me feel bad.

Sounds like a lot …
Yes! And I also didn’t want to make it seem like I don’t believe that someone can get better. I don’t wanted any doubts. But now I think it’s fine to just embrace anger. Especially if it’ll pass.

YouTube video

 

That’s a cool thought. Also a lot of your fans found comfort in Night Shift. Just to read all the comments underneath your post, like „It got me through some dark times“ made me quite emotional. How about you?
I was crying all day long! Seeing messages like: ‚I went through a divorce and I played this a lot‘ or ‚I met someone that I’m currently dating because we love the song‘ or kids saying that they showed it to their parents and it helped them explain themselves in a better way … The song took up significant space in someone else’s life, that’s crazy! But that’s what I mean by covers: Just because I wrote the source material doesn’t mean that I have sole ownership over it. I think everyone that has taken them in owns a bit of it.

So does that mean that music can really change how people think and feel?
I think so. Music has changed how I think and feel for sure. Sometimes I feel music is underrated, but sometimes I think is overrated, too. I’m not sure if I know what I want to say here really … (laughs) But for instance I think it’s corny when artists are like: I’m going to write a song about this huge issue and it’s going to change the world. And then they write just some overwrought topical song… But yeah, there are some songs that have completely changed who I am as a person, whether they were meant to or not, or even just in tandem with where and when I listen to them – like you have the songs that are like the soundtrack to your life and you can mark places and times and who you are through these specific songs. I like being able to have touchstones from identity through the words and lyrics that people have said.

Which song has totally changed you?
Bruce Springsteen’s song Jungleland. In this song he says „Outside the street’s on fire in a real death waltz / Between what’s flesh and what’s fantasy / And the poets down here don’t write nothing at all / They just stand back and let it all be“. He’s so wounded! So much is happening that he could be mad at, like it’s a song about class and crime and love and being desperate. But he’s pissed that artists don’t feel a responsibility to represent what’s going on. Listen to that as a kid, made me realize: Oh okay, it’s a poet’s job to tell meaningful stories. I learned my lesson – don’t waste your words. If I make anything creative, it has to have meaning and say something that I can actually be proud of in order to share it.

It seems like you took the job as a musician very seriously from the first day on.
Well, some people care about music way more than me. Like, I just happen to make music. And I really care about words.

This can’t be true. Lyrics and melodies come together so beautiful and cohesive on your new record. This must be planned and not just something that happened without a conscious thought.
It’s nice of you to say that. I think kind of cinematically. I want someone to start the record and listen to the whole thing through. So before I record anything, I usually have a track list planned so that I know the transitions both thematically and sonically, just so that it’s listenable from front to back. And there’s not like some point where you really feel like you need to turn it off.

Is change or continuity more interesting for you?
I guess change … Hm, wait, change? Oh I like the question, because my first thought was: How could continuity be more interesting? But now I think maybe it’s continuity, because if you do the same thing every day, you also really get to know what change looks like. Like in quarantine. I did the same thing every day, but I really noticed the leaves changing and the flowers blooming – I was more in touch with natural changes and also changes in my life.

You said before that you feel safer now. I know you said it, because we talked about the breakup, but it’s so interesting that you say that in a time where we have a pandemic.
I mean, I feel physically safe for being out of the relationship. And also I moved to Philadelphia, people knew where I lived back in Richmond. I had some people in my life that were really draining my energy. Here in Philly, I pretty much only know people that I really like and who make my life fun and don’t have a complicated idea of who I am. They just like to hang out. So I feel physically safer. But then I also have gotten the vaccine, so I just I feel safer because of that and I still am not doing much, because who knows? Like what to trust from government information? But yeah, I feel, beyond that, loved and supported by a lot of friends and peers, and so I feel safer to even write in more risky ways and say things in my songs that are a little more personal instead of general. I feel solidly where I am so I can look more stably at who I was. And that’s part of why this album was even possible.

When I listen to your record I think of the word „brave“ – that it’s brave that you wrote these very honest songs. But I’m sure you hate the word „brave“.
You know, I don’t hate that. I think that I’m coming to realize that bravery can still make your stomach hurt. Bravery isn’t just like: Yes, I’m doing this and I do feel brave! It’s also: I feel like I’m going to throw up! I can still be scared, but I’m doing it anyways. So maybe that is brave, but I don’t feel necessarily graceful or like it’s easy. But it feels meaningful.

You also don’t have a lot of metaphors on this record, you just say how it is.
Yeah, that’s true. That was on purpose. I don’t want to be writing, like fiction or being relying on metaphors. I want to write something that is just true. Something that I know is just like a story instead of an idea.

Do you sometimes feel like you have to live up to the expectations of others?
If I sense people expecting something from me, I will not do it. Just because I don’t want to be trapped in one way of doing things. I know a lot of artists that get popular in one vein and then are like: Oh, to keep my job or keep my fans, I have to make more of the same! But that’s really boring. It’s not even fulfilling to them. I believe that if they’re really fans, they’ll go with them on whatever they do next. I like to prove to myself that I am able to do unexpected things.

Lucy Dacus Tour:
31.03.2022 Köln, Artheater
02.04.2022 Hamburg, Molotow
09.04.2022 Berlin, Lido
10.04.2022 Jena, Trafo
13.04.2022 München, Milla

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