Lollapalooza has always made for the perfect stage for rising artists like Lucy Dacus to say hello to the big time.
After performing early Thursday afternoon, The Badger Herald was able to sit down inside the Toyota Music Den to talk to the Dacus about her musical success, hanging out in Chicago and her love of songwriting.
Dacus will be performing with Car Seat Headrest at the Majestic Theatre Sept. 27.
The following interview was edited for style and clarity.
Badger Herald: How was your performance?
Lucy Dacus: It was so much fun. It’s just funny to be at this festival, I went to it as a patron like four years ago. At that stage, I was in the crowd for our slot that we played, but for other bands. It was pretty sentimental.
BH: Did you grow up in Chicago, or have you just been here in the past?
LD: No, we’re from Richmond, Virginia. But my mom grew up in Illinois, so I have a lot of family around here. All of them are out of town, which is a bummer, because they couldn’t come to the show. I’ve come here every summer for the past decade, probably.
BH: Has this been the biggest venue where you’ve performed?
LD: If we’re counting the whole festival, yes. There have been a couple shows recently that feel like they’re beyond our scope. We played a show with Kurt Vile in our hometown, which was maybe 4,000 people. It was cool, because he’s on our new label, Matador, too.
BH: How long are you staying in Chicago? Do you have any fun plans while you’re around?
LD: We’re staying here for the duration of the festival, which is nice. A lot of these bands are touring and I guess have to leave right after their set. But we told our agent to basically not book anything, we’re trying to stay in town. I really want to see LCD Soundsystem, that will be a big deal to me. Seeing Radiohead will be crazy.
BH: You just released your debut album and have been met with quite a bit of success. What has that been like for you?
LD: Well there’s not really any bar to compare it to, it just feels crazy, like independently weird. There’s no basis for comparison for how weird it is. I guess it’s nice, the thing I keep myself aware of is that all the press or all of the attention is just redirecting the attention of other people. It feels weird sometimes, like even being interviewed, being asked questions over and over. But it’s opening up more people to potentially hearing the songs that we made.
BH: How did you get started with music?
LD: My mom is an elementary school music teacher, so music was just around. I just kind of bought an acoustic guitar and started teaching myself songs that I knew in middle school. I still don’t know very much about guitar, but songwriting was as common as talking in my family. Doing shows was a different thing, I didn’t do shows for a really long time. I was solo for the past few years. I’ve been playing with a full band for a year now, year and a half.
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BH: Your song “I Don’t Want to be Funny Anymore” is so relatable. What’s the story behind that song?
LD: That song might be the most straightforward. Just what the lyrics say is what it’s about, realizing and expressing that I don’t want to be the funny one anymore. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into a certain identity — kind of seeking any other identity, or that process of figuring out that you don’t need to be a single adjective. You can be a complex person. I guess it’s reflecting on a time of youth that maybe a lot of people have, where they’re defining themselves in the midst of being defined by other people. It kind of sucks that people relate to it now, because it would be the best if we were relating to it while it was happening, and finding solace in that with each other. But that’s part of the territory with being young, is just being awkward and having to figure it out.
BH: Who are your biggest musical influences?
LD: In recent times, it would definitely be Shakey Graves, Broken Social Scene and Yo La Tengo, which is awesome because we’re on Matador now and [Yo La Tengo] are on Matador.
BH: What’s next for you?
LD: Probably just living this nomadic lifestyle of touring and just seeing new places. Hopefully we start making our next record soon. That’s the content that I’m really excited about. These songs aren’t that old to everyone else, but they are old to me. I still like them and they’re still true to what I think. Some musicians write music that they totally stop agreeing with and they have to stop playing it. We’re not at that point, but the new music are things I really want to talk about and just have people hear.