Next Tuesday night at the brand new Highland Park venue, the Hi Hat, Lael Neale will be performing a handful of melodies. She is originally from Orange, Virginia, and lived in San Francisco before finally making the move to LA, where she currently resides. The event at the Hi Hat is totally free, so you have no excuses to miss this beautiful songstress!
Thrillcall: When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
Lael Neale: I knew that I wanted to be involved in music from, well, since I can remember. But probably I decided I wanted to be a songwriter after I fell in love with a musician in a band and thought that I could do that too.
T: That makes sense! I thought that once too when I dated a musician. But I totally can’t. I realized that my abilities are limited.
LN: Well, you have to be just really in love, I think, to devote that amount of time to learning something that has so little payoff.
T: [laughs] That too. But I meant more about how to write a song, it seems so hard to me.
LN: Yeah. When I started playing I was just playing cover songs, and that was years, I was just learning songs that other people had written. And the thought of writing a song was completely outside of my comprehension. I had no idea how it happened, because I wasn’t trained. I never took lessons or anything so it was kinda based on what I had absorbed through the songs that I was learning. I figured out oh, these are the chords that go together, this is how you tell a story in so many verses… but my songs don’t follow normal, like, pop layout. They’re pretty raw.
T: Who are your songwriting influences?
LN: I think a huge one for me was Joni Mitchell, which is a lot of people’s.
LN: Yeah, so classic that I hate to say it. [laughs] And then I guess later on… I liked Neil Young’s simplicity and straightforward-ness. Joni Mitchell’s songs all had really obscured meanings and flowery metaphors, but Neil Young was so straightforward, same with Dylan. And Aimee Mann, I really liked her.
T: Do you listen to Connie Converse?
LN: Oh! Yes! I just discovered her! I was so excited when I heard it.
T: I think of her when I hear your music- in its simplicity and also I feel like your music is very emotional, and so is hers. And there’s a lot of sadness too.
LN: Oh man, yeah. I’m trying to think of the melody to that one song. [hums]
T: Yes! Wait, I can’t think of the name of that one.
LN: I can’t either! [editor’s note: Lael was humming “Talkin’ Like You (Two Tall Mountains)” by Connie Converse] It’s so… and same with Sibylle Baier. Do you know her?
LN: Oh, you’ll die, you have to listen to her. She was a sixties housewife and did all these recordings to tape and they weren’t released until 2006 when her son released them.
T: This keeps happening!
LN: I know, and it’s amazing. It’s beautiful.
T: I will check that out. So your album I’ll Be Your Man came out last year. Tell us about it.
LN: So this is my first album. I actually made it a couple years ago but it didn’t come out til this past July. I made it with this really talented guy, who’s primarily a songwriter but he’s been producing stuff too, his name is Marlon Rabenreither and he has a band called Gold Star. He’s got such a good sense of taste and an intuitive understanding of me as a songwriter that we were able to make a strong, authentic record together. I’m excited to finally have something real, something tangible.
T: You said this album was a few years coming- how long have you been writing original music?
LN: Probably five or six years. I feel like with my album, I’ve evolved so much just in the past two years. Hopefully if you’re doing the right thing, you feel like your past writing is old news, and this new stuff is the thing. Trying to be okay with that is hard.
T: Any future recordings in the pipeline?
LN: Yeah, I’m making plans to start recording in April with my friend who’s in the band Wake Owl. He’s really great and I think he wants to produce the next collection of songs. I have a ton of them.
T: Of course.
LN: Well, not ‘of course’!
LN: Well I don’t know. [laughs] Yeah it has been long enough, I suppose.
T: It’s been long enough, but also whenever I speak to a songwriter they always tell me, “oh yeah, I wrote a hundred songs before I recorded one.”
LN: Yeah, you’re basically just writing a bunch of trash. But to have enough good stuff for one album, it takes a long time.