After becoming an independent artist in 2011, Aussie singer-songwriter Lenka saw the perfect opportunity to achieve a longtime goal: to create an album of lullabies for adults. Shadows, released on the singer’s own Skipalong Records, remains soft and sweet while more mature themes of new motherhood—and the heavy emotional state it often brings about—drift in and out. We chatted with the artist about balancing motherhood and music, the new album, and her revamped live show before she swings through Seattle this Friday at Barboza.
What are you up to today? I’ve been up since 5:30 a.m. with my baby; we’ve already been to the park and the café. After these interviews, I’m going to rehearsal then a photo shoot. Every spare moment is with the baby.
With the new album and tour, is it more hectic to be a mom and a musician? I’ve definitely realized that it’s a lot harder with a baby. I’ve got to be very efficient with my time. You don’t get as much sleep, so you’re a little exhausted all the time. For me, it balances the amount of inspiration, happiness, and joy that you get, so it’s energizing.
Is the baby going on tour with you? Right now, we’re based in L.A., so he’ll come to San Francisco then his dad will take him back to L.A. and I’ll do Seattle, Portland, Vancouver. That would be a little too much driving for him to enjoy. He’s going to be a part-time tour baby.
I’m sure once he’s grows up a bit it will be easier. Once he can lift some guitars, he’s definitely coming [laughs].
Where did the idea come from to create an album of lullabies? I love those beautiful, quiet albums that won’t disturb your slumber. Since I became a musician, I wanted to contribute one of those albums to the musical sphere. My first two albums are going for energy rather than being relaxing. This album, nothing will jolt you awake. I also want to get my songs into the listener’s dreams. You listen to it, you drift off to sleep, and then I’m in your subconscious. Mwahaha!
Is there a story behind the album’s title? It’s almost like the songs are my shadows, remnants of myself that I’ve left behind. They also pop up lyrically, representing the monsters that we carry around, lurking in the shadows as adults, things like regret, loss, and disappointment.
Did you notice any differences between songs you wrote while pregnant and those written after the baby was born? I got a burst of hope after the baby was born. The lullaby idea became stronger after I had the baby because sleep becomes such an important issue [laughs]. “No Harm Tonight” was a post-baby write, so it quite literally is a lullaby, just to be soothing and a bit snuggly [laughs].
Do you think the songs being soothing and snuggly will change the energy of your live show? It is actually. I’m changing the lineup for this tour, as far as my band. I’m doing keys, guitar, strings like violin and cello, so it will be a more folky, dreamy set. I’m excited because that means I have to go back and reinterpret songs like “Trouble Is a Friend” and “The Show,” and bring this energy into those songs. I’ve done one show like this and it was absolutely joyful. Obviously being live, it needs to be a dynamic show still; the whole thing can’t be completely sleepy all the time, but we are going to try and get that snuggly, comforting feel happening.