Exclusive Interview with Singer-Songwriter Lindsay Latimer
Nashville singer-songwriter Lindsay Latimer might be soft-spoken in one-on-one conversations, but from the moment she takes the microphone and opens her mouth to sing she is nothing but a powerhouse to be reckoned with. I got the chance to speak with her about how she started performing, creating in such a music-heavy city like Nashville, the newly-released remix of her song “I Blame You” and so much more. Keep reading to see what she had to say.
Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.
For me, it’s been [something I was doing] since I was very young. I started in ballet, actually, and I did little tutus and stuff for about 10 years. Then I started to love the music of ballet and so I was like, “This is really fun and I love this, but I don’t get to talk or sing or do anything that I want to do.” So I started in voice lessons in elementary school and then I just basically jumped at every chance I got. I was in musicals in school and sang in choir. Then I started taking voice lessons, classical voice lessons, in junior high, and that really started to solidify it. I understood that I was really getting into the music stuff. So I took classical voice privately for eight years. And then I was thinking, “Okay, well I guess everybody wants me to do opera and that’s what would make sense.” Meanwhile, I was in my bedroom writing songs. I grew up being forced to play piano and take lessons; like if you lived in our house, you had to do that. So then I was playing guitar and piano and writing my own songs and just found myself realizing, “You know, I think I want to keep studying this in college, but I really would love to do it my way and not do classical voice.” I’m from Cincinnati, so I auditioned at several different schools. Belmont University was one of them, for commercial voice, which is just like contemporary voice. I got in there and it was off to the races and I got to really see what it’s like to study that kind of music.
To make it even longer, I then transferred to another school in Nashville and actually started studying classical voice, which is just ironic. Bottom line is: I never stopped writing songs and I was really thankful for the technique and the training that I’ve had, but never ever wanted to be an opera singer. I don’t get to sing my stuff if I do that. [Music has] been kind of my life. I’ve really, really enjoy being able to convey feelings and stories and takeaways in music with my own compositions.
You said you knew you didn’t ever want to be an opera singer, but is there a moment or a person who made you realize that commercial, to use your term, music was what you wanted to pursue professionally?
That’s a good question. I think it was a lot of self-reflection, but I think just looking up to artists that seemed like they were doing what I wanted to do and, I think, for me, while I was in the operatic world, and as much as I enjoyed singing that type of music, it just never felt like Lindsay. It just felt like that would be forcing it and that would be somebody else’s dream, but not mine. I did this summer thing in high school once at the Boston Conservatory and I stayed up there and took classes and it was all classical music and I just kinda got a look into that life and I was like, “Nah. This isn’t it.” Yeah, I think it was just kind of a long series of events that just kept on pushing me back and pushing me back to, “No, go write your own stuff. Go make your own style of music. [Go] gather from all these different genres that you’ve been singing growing up.”
Regardless, music has always been something you wanted to pursue professionally as a career.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. If you had to describe your music, without using genre names, what kind of music do you produce?
My music is honest and I want it to be something that just kind of sinks down into your inner soul and moves you, something that kind of takes hold of your heart and your mind and holds you captive and makes you think about things on a deep level. I think, also, just kind of awakening your ears to a whole kind of new language of tonalities and music. I love to kind of go left of center with some things and maybe more atypical sometimes. I think of certain artists that have done that and I’ve always latched onto that, like, “Whoa, that sounds so different. I want to hear more of it.” And you can’t really fit it into a label per se, but it’s kind of just a collage of different types of sound. I’d say the main theme is just, like, an honest portrayal and that can be lyrically, but also like melodically.
You spoke about being based in Nashville, which is typically known for country music. Yet it has been growing and expanding to include all genres. What has your experience creating music been like there? How has being surrounded by such diverse music impacted the music you’re creating?
That’s a great question. It’s a neat place. It’s very much resourceful when it comes to making your music sparkle in the studio. You have this big pool of people to collaborate with, which is really great. It’s also very saturated with people doing what you’re doing, which you just learn to see as a helpful thing rather than getting all insecure and never leaving home. When I first moved to Nashville, it was 2009 and I was like a sponge. I just listened to it all, I watched everything that was going on music-wise with the shows, watched all of the appearances and everything. I was just swallowing a lot of lies that I should be singing a certain style and writing a certain way. And, I think, even in those years that have passed… I mean Nashville’s come a long way, but it took me about six years to figure out that, really, I don’t have to fit into what Nashville is saying. I began writing the songs that I wanted to write, writing them the way I wanted to write, singing the genre I wanted to sing.
Today, I think Nashville is more of that now than stylistic conformity. But I really needed Nashville in my life to show me the music that I didn’t want to write and lead me back to the music that I do. But it’s really a fun place. There’s a lot going on that you can step into. Then, just like I referred to earlier, you just can’t psych yourself out and you just kinda have to tell yourself that you’re going to get out of this what you put into it and you just got to keep working and not get all weird and not go talk to people and just go for it. I’ve really been fortunate to meet a lot of great people to collaborate with in these nine years or so.
You just released a remix of your song, “I Blame You.” Why did you want to do a remix of this specific song rather than wait a bit to do so and put out new music?
The original version is one of those that I wrote the song quick. It was one of those that I just wrote in less than an hour and it felt really authentic. Since it’s existence, I really felt drawn to the transparency of the song and it felt really raw and really real, from the onset of writing it. I love dissonance and intention melodically, but I really just wanted to allow the song to develop as it may and I kinda felt like that’s a really cool thing and let’s just see… Like, I don’t think I’m done with it yet. My mind kept on going back to a remix and I was like, “Well, without a doubt, I know which song it will be.”
It wasn’t until I was in the studio recording the first version of it with my producer, Jeremy Lutito, and he really brought it out into what it is now. I was just taken aback by the musical bed that he created for it in the studio. I mean, it was so spot on. He just hit the nail on the head. He also remixed it and so he does remixes under BodyTalker and so it just made sense. We really clicked on this song and it was the song that we actually started with in the studio from all of the songs on my EP, so it just holds a really special spot for me. But [also] just so rad too to have Jeremy, the original architect of the song, with me really to take it all the way through to the next stage. I mean, you can bet the heart of the song is still intact. I just really liked the song. It’s just one of those… it’s like, “Oh yeah.” This is one of those that I want to just keep on seeing what could come of it.
So it wasn’t like, “Oh, we’re doing a remix and these are the songs that I’m considering remixing and I pick that one.” There was just always something about that song that was like, “Oh, I’m not done with it yet.”
Yeah, it was. My single off my EP, “Prom Queens,” is kind of this upbeat pop song. I mean, you could kind of do it with all of them, but to be honest it was like, “Nope. Every song has its place right now and ‘I Blame You’ is really just speaking to me for more.” So yeah, I’d say so.
Talk a little bit about the story behind “I Blame You.” What inspired that song?
Cool. I love this question. It’s a really, really delicate song. It’s sweet and chill and kind of mysterious too, the original that I’m speaking about. My idea was to make the remix kind of show a more audacious angle of it, with more gutsiness and spunk, which can definitely be seen visually in the music video. It’s a mashup of different emotions and oftentimes the emotions that are common for someone who’s in a deep relationship to feel. I’m alluding to, like, sweetness but also some sour tastes in the song, lyrically. And there’s something precarious going on but then it’s all coded in this veneer of a love song. Honestly, going back to the studio, creating the placement for the song, melodically, but also production wise too, is just really crucial to finding something that kind of hit a note of just having [it] a little unsettled. It’s just like a little bit of some mystery sprinkled on there. This is kind of a song that I hope can speak to people in different phases of relationships, whether it’s way down the road and you’re so, so in love with someone or more like, “I’ve been wrapped up in you for weeks now and I’m not quite sure where we’re standing, but I know that there’s something there” and it’s kind of more of the beginning stage of a relationship.
Who are some of your musical influences when it comes to songwriting?
Growing up, there was music going on in my house all the time and my mom’s records that she always played was Joni Mitchell and Carol King. Though I don’t really sound like them, their ways of getting emotions across in lyrics, I think, are just fantastic and I think that inspired me. Then also, my dad’s records would always be like Billy Joel and Doobie Brothers and stuff with more of a beat, so there’s momentum there too. I just really was inspired by a lot. That question is always kind of tricky for me because I just feel like I grew up listening to a lot of different things. We had classical music on all the time too. And then, also with the ballet stuff, too, inspiring that.
I think when I got to be a teenager, I really latched onto Jack Johnson and John Mayer and that’s the most cliche sounding answer ever. But truly, they were musical pillars for me in my growing years, just when I was really sensitive to music and at a time when you’re insecure and you’re relating to things. I was just pulled in by their honest songwriting. I would memorize every lyric. I think just knowing like, “Wow. There’s people out there that just can kind of camouflage what they’re trying to say in such a beautiful way and it’s just so relatable.” I think ever since I could hear people do it that way, to make you feel like, “Oh, they know what I’m going through and putting words to something I can’t,” that was really inspiring to me.
Musically, what else can people expect from you for the rest of 2018? Any more new music this year?
Well, I’m working on new music right now. I recently actually inherited the piano that belonged to my grandparents for about 60 years. It was moved several states south to Tennessee where I live and it’s been like Christmas in July. Not since my college campus practice room dates have I had open access to a piano. I’m just loving it; the resonance of a piano in a room is just one of the things that lured me into writing songs as a kid. So it’s been really therapeutic to be back in that place with something so raw and tangible for my songwriting. I mean that kind of says it. I’m working on a lot right now and there’s a lot of fresh stuff I’m excited about. There might be a second remix in there, there might not be, there might be some brand new compositions, but yeah, you have to stay tuned.
Last question — our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd. What is something, aside from music, that you nerd out about?
Cool. Great question. Okay. I’d say the outdoors. I’m just kind of a tree hugger in a way. I love trips and adventure, kind of adrenaline rush sorts of things. I’ve gone on some really cool trips and I always am hoping to plan the next one. If you would be inside my Instagram account, you’d see, “Oh, she follows surfers and rock climbers.” Those are the things that I love, sometimes more than [following] musicians accounts. I’m like, “Oh, what are they doing? Where are they climbing? Where are they swimming?” So just anything with outside adventure stuff.
And then, on a very “this week” kind of thing, I am so nerding out about Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. I don’t know if you remember him with his show? He had a show on National Geographic channel way back when and he wrote some books and trained Oprah’s dog.
Interesting. No, I’m don’t.
My husband and I just got our first dog, so I feel like a walking billboard for Cesar Millan. I read his book right before we got the puppy and I’m telling strangers about his dog training technique. I sound like a crazy dog mom, but I’m like, “Oh, you have to follow these steps and you be the pack leader, not the dog.” So I’m sounding really weird these days, but I’m definitely a hundred percent nerding out about that.
You can learn more about Lindsay and her music by visiting her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Soundcloud.