Interview: Lake Street Dive’s Rachael Price on balancing Boston and Brooklyn, her musical lineage, and recording spontaneity

 
 

With all the changes in music accessibility and the industry constantly rebuilding itself, one thing that has been evident since the start of the 2010’s is the revival of soul and R&B. Adele achieved international stardom with her 2011 landmark album 21 and is still going strong after last year’s release of 25. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings have risen to new heights after working with the likes of Mark Ronson, and this summer they’ll be part of a stacked tour with Hall & Oates and Trombone Shorty. Locally in Boston, Jesse Dee, Ruby Rose Fox, and The Curtis Mayflower have been causing a stir with their energetic live performances, and Brookline native Eli “Paperboy” Reed has been on the rosters of labels like Capitol and Warner Bros.

Another act to include in the conversation is Lake Street Dive. Getting their start in Boston after meeting at the New England Conservatory of Music, vocalist Rachael Price, multi-instrumentalist Mike “McDuck” Olson, bassist Bridget Kearney, and drummer Mike Calabrese are now based in Brooklyn, becoming a “must see” act wherever they go. Tomorrow night (March 23), they’ll be performing at the House of Blues in Boston as part of their tour with Houston soul act The Suffers. Vanyaland chatted with Price about making the move to New York, her father Tom Price’s work in choral and orchestral music, working with producer Dave Cobb, achieving a rawer sound and what Lake Street Dive’s plans are for the summer.

Rob Duguay: What differences do you find between playing live in Boston versus New York City and how was the transition for the band moving their home base to Brooklyn?

Rachael Price: We really cut our teeth and figured out how to be a band from playing at venues around Boston. By the time we started going and playing in New York it was a very different thing. We had something going on in Boston and New York proved to be a little bit more difficult, it was definitely a harder audience to win over. We’re actually split up between Brooklyn and Boston nowadays where two of us live in the vicinity of one city while the other two live in the latter. I live in Brooklyn and Bridget does as well, we feel like we’re a part of a strong musical community there and our shows there are awesome. We love playing there.

Brooklyn is a fun part of New York City and it’s always changing too so it’s continuously keeping itself interesting. Whenever you go there, there’s something different popping up.

Yeah.

You come from an artistically inclined family with your dad Tom being known for his work in choral and orchestral music. While you were growing up, did your dad have any influence on the way you sing or does it come naturally?

Definitely, he is a huge fan of jazz music which is why I probably started listening to it and got so into it and that was my first influence. Being rooted in the choral world as well I sang a lot of gospel growing up which has a lot to do with how I sing and my interpretation of song.

Last month, Lake Street Dive released their fourth studio album Side Pony. It was recorded at the Sound Emporium in Nashville with producer Dave Cobb who recently has gotten acclaim for working with the new breed of country musicians like Shooter Jennings, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell. What was the experience like working with Dave and recording in Nashville?

It was really exciting. Dave is a producer who has a very unique style to how he produces bands. He does every recording differently, I got the impression that he doesn’t like to do the same thing twice. It was really fun, we sort of had to stay super detached from the process that we internally formed as a band and we went with his method. We got into it, got out of our comfort zone and tried out different things. The Sound Emporium is an awesome studio, it’s an iconic, old studio and a lot of amazing recordings have been done there. There was a great vibe and we loved it.

The album shows Lake Street Dive getting into even more of that raw, vintage ’60s-inspired soul and R&B sound that we’ve come accustomed with. There’s also a bit of an electric edge on a few tracks as well, especially with Mike Olson’s skills on guitar. What made the band want to go this route? Did Dave have any influence on that?

Definitely, yeah. We recorded most of the album all live in one room and we didn’t do a ton of takes. He doesn’t like to overdo a song, he wanted to capture that spark of inspiration that happens when you start playing a song the first few times. We also did a lot of overdubbing and experimenting with sounds after we were doing the initial raw take. We didn’t rule out any sort of sound or idea. When someone had an idea we just gave it a shot to just lay it down and hear it.

I love when bands record live and you can tell that with each track off of the new album, it has a very organic feel to it.

Thanks.

After tomorrow night’s show at the House of Blues, this current tour with The Suffers and with the weather warming up, what are Lake Street Dive’s plans for the summer?

We’re going back to Europe in the spring and when summer rolls around we’ll be doing some festivals and a lot of outdoor pavilion summer shows, that type of thing.

LAKE STREET DIVE + THE SUFFERS :: Wednesday, March 23 at the House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne St. in Boston, MA :: 7 p.m., all-ages, $37 to $49.50 :: Advance tickets :: House of Blues event page :: Facebook event page