Dawn Landes is a Kentucky-born, Brooklyn based singer-songwriter. She is currently touring the UK with an EP of covers from artists including Roxy Music and Bruce Springsteen. Dawn’s last album, Bluebird received glowing reviews from Uncut, New York Times and Sunday Times. Bluebird in part documents the break-up of Landes’ marriage to fellow songwriter Josh Ritter.
LS Media: Hi Dawn, thanks for spending some time with LS Media before your show tonight.
DL: Sure, no problem!
LS Media: Your latest EP is a covers album. Whilst your previous effort Bluebird wasn’t necessarily a sad one, it was quite emotionally intense at times. What was the contrast between recording Bluebird and recording your current EP?
DL: There was definitely less pressure! I find when I’m touring a lot I’m playing the same songs every night and end up throwing covers into my set anyway just for my own entertainment. This EP was actually a crowd funded thing, so I wanted to get other people’s input, so people came and suggested what songs I do and that was fun for me.
LS Media: The EP contains songs from artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. Are they songs that you have a strong attachment to?
DL: Well it’s funny because some of them I had known before, like the Dolly Parton one [Longer Than Always], and the Springsteen one [Atlantic City] I had played for ever. Moon River was also a song that I knew really well but had never actually sung but always wanted to. As for the Roxy Music track [More Than This], I’d been touring with Bryan Ferry, so that was sort of a shoe in!
LS Media: The EP does seem to follow a certain theme of songs, apart from the Roxy Music track.
DL: Yeah, it was just so nice hearing him play that song every night on the tour and it’s such a great song that it made me want to go and record it as well. The whole Avalon album [which the track originally appears on] is amazing.
LS Media: You said there was less pressure when recording these covers compared with Bluebird: At the same time, did you at all feel under pressure to do those songs justice?
DL: I feel like when you do a cover song, you have to put your own spin on it, otherwise why do it? But yeah, you feel under pressure to do it justice but you also don’t want to make something that sounds odd, just to be contrary.
LS Media: Obviously touring can be a busy and time consuming thing to do, but have you managed to spend any time in Liverpool today?
DL: Yeah, we got to walk around, we’re doing this tour by train, and usually I’m in a van or a tour bus and it’s nice to be on the train instead and watch the countryside go by. And then we actually got some time to walk around, so we went to the uh, post office [laughs] which was very lovely, and I saw the docks so we went to the museum too which was really fascinating.
LS Media: A lot of musicians come to Liverpool and try to avoid acknowledging the Beatles. Are you one of them, or have you tried to immerse yourself in the history of the group whilst in the city?
DL: It’s hard not to notice it in the city! I did a live session earlier and had my picture taken with a photo of the Beatles. The first time I played here I got to do the tour of John Lennon’s aunt’s house, which was fantastic. It’s got all their original furniture, old answer machine recordings and his original bedroom, it’s pretty awesome. The thing that struck me the most was from his bedroom window, just seeing what he saw in that window. It’s nice to know those little details.
LS Media: Bluebird received some great reviews over here, and 2014 has been a successful year for you. What are your plans after this tour for the rest of 2015?
DL: I’m actually working on a musical at the moment, based on the memoir of a woman who was the first woman to row a row boat across the [Atlantic] ocean in 1999, and she’s from my hometown in Kentucky. I’m almost done with that, it’s been a really wild thing to write a musical because there are so many songs! I’ve written like 27 songs for this thing, it’s crazy, it’s so much work. But it’s fun to work with actors and we’ve got a commission from some theatres, which is great. I’m also working on an EP of duets with Piers Faccini, and he’s really great. We’re probably going to do a tour of the states in March or something.
LS Media: You clearly enjoy collaborating a lot with other musicians. What is it about collaboration that you enjoy so much?
DL: I think because I’m a solo artist I end up playing a lot with other people, and it’s more fun to play music with other people. Also I have a real obsession with recording and being in the studio. I have my own studio and when you’re hanging out in the studio and you’re around people that are creative and creating music you naturally just jump in!
LS Media: Thank you very much for your time, Dawn, it’s been great!
DL: Okay, well thank you!