Music » Music Stories & Interviews

L.A. singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis returns to Orlando energized by The Voyager’s success



Last July, we wrote at length about Jenny Lewis' multifaceted career as an actress, band member, solo performer and celebrity. Her physical and emotional struggles as she wrote and recorded her third solo album, The Voyager. Her evolution from cute emo-rock darling to strutting pant-suited badass.

Well, in 2014, Lewis was in such high demand from glossy pubs like Rolling Stone, People Magazine, Elle and Vogue that little ol' Orlando Weekly couldn't cop an interview. But this year, our persistence paid off and we spent 15 glorious minutes chatting with Lewis about female empowerment, offsetting the expense of being a wino and the fertile creative grounds of shitty laundromats and Motel 6s.

OW: You're returning to Orlando less than a year after your last visit. Do you love us that much?

Lewis: Absolutely! One of the best shows I've ever been a part of was at the Social [in 2003] on the Postal Service's first tour. We referenced it when we did our reunion [in 2013] – although we enjoyed playing two sold-out nights at the Barclay Center [in Brooklyn], we looked at each other and agreed that the show at the Social was better.

Speedy Ortiz is opening for you next week. Fortuitous routing or purposeful choice?

I'm a huge fan of Speedy Ortiz and Sadie [Dupuis'] lyrics. There's such an incredible crop of female songwriters out right now – Waxahatchee, Girlpool – that I've tried for the entire The Voyager touring cycle to have exclusively female openers. It's been my pleasure not only to discover these records but also to get to know these women out on the road.

The Voyager came out nine months ago. Are you in a significantly different place now than you were after enduring the stress of its creation?

It really hasn't been out for that long! It's so funny how quickly the news cycle goes. But I am starting to think about the next batch of songs. The goal is to create a seamless transition between promoting one album and writing/recording the next one.

But you've said that the break you took before The Voyagerthe longest of your career – benefited you as a songwriter.

It benefited me most as a human being. I had to reprioritize for a second – get back to myself and figure out what the hell was going on with me. Out of that honesty and introspection came this batch of songs ... but I was afraid that people wouldn't remember me.

That badass graffiti pantsuit you've been wearing for a year sure helped.

I almost created a character based on wearing that suit. It can be empowering being totally covered up. Somehow I feel sexier in a suit than I do in ...

The modified romper you wore for the second weekend of Coachella?

[Laughs] That was something I considered for a long time. I wanted to throw myself off a little bit. And I carried myself totally differently on stage in that romper. I became a weird cheerleader/athlete, running around in tennis shoes. So fun.

As fun as your other projects – directing music videos, becoming a fashion icon, collaborating on the Voyager red wine?

I'm an artist, and everything I do is an extension of the art. The wine is awesome because it came out of a love for natural and biodynamic wines. And the six cases I get for free helps to offset the expense of being a wino [laughs].

Have you written more new material beyond "Girl on Girl," which you debuted with Haim in April? If so, what's the process been like?

The songs tend to arrive one by one. At any moment, I could be working on three, but I've got five or six that are almost finished. Sometimes you have to write a couple mediocre songs to get to a good one. That's the freedom of trying out material on the road – you can grow it before you go into the studio.

So you're not one of those artists who can't write on the road.

It is so different being a writer and being a performer. But if I want to keep doing this – and I do – I have to fold the two into each other. And I find so much inspiration out on the road. I love writing in a shitty laundromat or a Motel 6. I find those places to be very fertile.

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