- Words Ethan Beer
- Photography Michael Cully
Lowertown are the Atlanta based teen duo that have risen to popularity with their intricate and adventurous take on lo-fi alt-pop.
Expect to see Lowertown everywhere very soon – the pair have just released “Best Person You Know” – their first single signed to label Dirty Hit.
With influences ranging widely from Aphex Twin, Radiohead and Animal Collective, Lowertown are at first an enigmatic musical amalgam. Blending elements of folk, electronica and alternative pop, the duo (Olivia Osby & Avsha Weinberg) are the latest in a generation of artists determined not to be defined by genre.
After first meeting in their math class at high school, they began releasing their first set of music in 2018 at just sixteen. Their unique DIY sound quickly earned them a dedicated fanbase online from fellow Gen Z’s who found beauty and reliability in the subtle imperfections of their music and the authentic lyrics.
“The Best Person You Know” is the first single from an upcoming EP slated for 2021 and marks their first sonic output as a Dirty Hit artist, joining artists such as Rina Sawayama and beabadoobee. It also comes with a stunning music video shot on Super 8 that captures the analogue nature and ‘do it yourself’ mantra of the duo who write in an insular manner.
Written just before lockdown, the upcoming EP is built upon their debut LP ‘Friends’ with more experimental elements and a wider use of instruments. It’s littered with emotional peaks and troughs; moments of sparse reflectiveness and wild anger that encapsulates the true feeling of coming of age and understanding the world around you.
Hey guys! How’s everything going? Pretty crazy time to be in Atlanta right now I imagine?
You’ve just signed to Dirty Hit – congratulations! What was the appeal of working with a label like that?
Avsha: Thanks!! The feeling of family and a real connection was definitely the first thing that became apparent to us. Olivia spoke with Jamie, the head of the label, personally before we were even signed, and we saw how all the other artists supported each other and were really friends within the label. Everything seemed very personal and the friendships between the artists and the team seemed very real. There also seemed to be a very diverse sound and a lot of creative freedom which is something that was really important to us. With artists like The 1975 right alongside artists like Rina Sawayama, we felt really comfortable in trusting that they would do whatever they could to support us and let us follow our creative direction.
Loving the new single. Talk us through the process of it creating it, how does a Lowertown track first start?
Olivia: It’s homey and really intimate, like a friend confiding in you about something personal going on in their life. Sometimes it can be painful and angry to listen to, or sulky or even sentimental, but it feels like taking a glance into someone’s inner most thoughts. It feels vulnerable, less lonely, and comforting to feel that honesty resonate with you.
The new video for “Best Person You Know” looks like it was shot on Super 8. Why did you decide to go down that analog route?
There’s a lot of reference to ‘God’ in the song, are you guys religious or spiritual at all?
This is the first single from an upcoming EP. Can you tell us a bit more about what’s to come?
Avsha: This project has been super intense and a really transformative experience for us. We’ve had multiple versions of tracklists and so many different conceptual ideas for where we wanted it to go. We had a tracklist that was a lot more aggressive and punk and then one with a lot of soft songs, but we realized that we wanted a sound that was most accurate to how we were feeling and how we were changing (changing as we were growing older and before and after corona hit). This project is more instrumentally dense, and definitely way more aggressive than Friends, and I think our lyrics are more personal and vulnerable than they’ve ever been. Olivia’s vocals have transformed a bit as well. In Friends, she sang strictly in her higher register, but as you can see with Best Person You Know, she experimented with different ways of singing on this new record.
Olivia: We wrote these songs just before and during the beginning of quarantine. We were experiencing a lot of changes at this point in our lives. We were growing older and had just graduated high school, we were in the middle of signing to Dirty Hit, and Coronavirus had just hit and completely changed most aspects of our daily lives. A lot of the subject matter stems from the observations you gain with age and adjusting to those new levels of responsibility and the progressing complexity of relationships in one’s life.
You started writing music at a really young age, who were some of your influences when you were just starting out, and what about now?
Avsha: Starting out Alex G, Elliott Smith, and The Microphones probably had the biggest influence on us. The way that they can make their music really raw and personal while also making a completely beautiful everyone who listens to it is something we really look up to. They’re still really influential to us, but I think we’re taking influence from artists that are less in our genre as we try and evolve our sound. Artists like Aphex Twin and Radiohead, artists who have been on our playlists for a long time, are now much more influential to us musically because of their mood and ability to deliver a crazy sense of atmosphere. Their music stays fresh and super interesting but still emotional and raw through every project which we feel like is the dream for most listeners.
You both have solo projects on the go too, how separate do you see those? Do you find it difficult?
Avsha: It’s definitely not easy managing multiple projects, but at the same time it can be very freeing. We’re able to mess around with different genres and improve on our songwriting or whatever we feel weak on without really focusing on the audience or critical response. It’s just a really fun creative outlet with no pressure to release at any time, just more a place to do whatever we want creatively at any time with no consequences. When either of us is writing, we always devote our most creative ideas and most confident work towards Lowertown, but with our solo projects, we’re able to just drop anything we’re really passionate about or develop any ideas that we’ve started forming. I haven’t dropped anything for a while because I put most of my creative ideas and time into the Lowertown projects, and also I’m a little shy about my solo stuff, but I love doing covers and just releasing silly ideas I come up with. Olivia has dropped some music more recently, including her ‘Bedtime Music’ EP, and is planning on dropping an EP or a demo album once ‘Honeycomb, Bedbug’ drops!
What individual things do you each bring to the table when you’re working together as Lowertown?
Olivia: Avsha brings his musicianship and his musical knowledge for sure. He plays guitar, piano, drums, and bass in addition to his production on the project. He also brings his different influences into his songwriting, and he’s also pretty dedicated so he pushes us a lot musically.
Avsha: Olivia brings her vulnerable and honest lyrics and her unique songwriting. She channels emotions super well and she’s able to put experiences that a lot of people have been through in a way where you understand what she’s talking about, but she brings a different perspective. She’s able to be honest to the point where it would be embarrassing for some people, but it sort of speaks to the stuff that happens in your own head that you wouldn’t really want to talk about with other people
You’re starting to build a massive following online. Why do you think so many people, especially young people, have really bought into the project so far?
Olivia: From the beginning of our time online, both Avsha and I have tried to be as authentic as possible, as well as trying to interact with and appreciate the people who support us. Not that this is a new revelation, but a lot of stuff online feels really forced or fake and it starts to take a toll being on social media too long. I have had a small following on Instagram for around 4 years, and it’s slowly grown over time. I started posting music online around the same time I started my Instagram, so people have been following my progress as a musician for a few years now. They’ve been able to see my progression, and the people who have been supporting me since the beginning know me pretty well because I’m open about myself often. We both always take the opportunity to live stream so that we can interact with people and just have conversations with whoever is interested. I think a lot of people are interested because our music and ourselves are very open, so it’s pretty easy to interact with us and see who we are as people, and not just as an artist they’ve seen around.