By Jason Macneil
Toronto pop artist Lowell might have taken a little longer than usual with her alluring sophomore effort, following 2014’s debut
But it was more a case of productivity than any hint of procrastination.
“I played around a little bit with different sounds and different ideas,” she says on the phone while waiting for a flight from Toronto to Washington, D.C.
“I spend a lot of time writing for other artists and working on different projects. I made a grunge record before I put this one out, so I was trying a lot of different things. Then I came back to a vision in the last year and decided what I wanted the entire thing to sound like.”
Lowell says finding the time to write for herself proved difficult after being in demand by the likes of Swedish duo Icona Pop. However, fearing the sophomore jinx also played a smaller role.
“The other challenge is just the expectation there because my first record was fairly well received critically, and I think that messed with my head a little bit,” she says.
“But I was able to get through that, and luckily I just kept writing every day and spending time with different people and managed to get something done.
“You have your whole life to make your first record and then only a couple of years to make your second one. But it was definitely rewarding, I’m happy that I finished it. There were times when I thought I wouldn’t.”
Lowell was born in Calgary and spent time in a number of different locales before moving to Toronto to study classical music at the University of Toronto.
In 2014, she released her debut, five-song EP, The Sara V. in question was a reference to Sara Victoria, Lowell’s stage name when she worked for a short time as a stripper.
“At one point, I was dancing just to make money for demos and other complicated reasons, with a fake name,” she said, during a past interview with Post City. “And when I started writing and being encouraged more to do music, realizing I was super talented, I quit that life and moved forward.”
And did she ever, as she was soon on the verge of pop stardom.
Lowell says is “probably more of a solid thought” musically compared to her “more sporadic, more mellow” debut, adding that the album’s rather lean songwriting process resulted in not having dozens of songs to choose from.
“I just sat down for a month and made this record happen because I’d already given lots of ideas to other people,” she says.
“I think that’s pretty common with pop writers. It’s kind of weird when you’re going back and forth between making raps for people and R & B and jazz and then come back and decide who you are.”
Although the material is strong top to bottom, notable highlights include the sparse “No Talk” and “War Face.” The latter is a track Lowell did in one day. Meanwhile the lovely “Ghosts” was inspired by touring.
“You spend a lot of time on the bus and you're looking outside and seeing all these different places,” she says.
“You get this perspective into life where sometimes things don’t even matter. For example, I spent my entire life pursuing my career as if it’s the only thing I could ever do. Sometimes when you step away, you realize everybody is just kind of going through the motions in trying to pursue a path.”
As for touring, Lowell says nothing is confirmed, but she hopes to do a few one-off shows. And she already has her next album finished.
“I shouldn't say too much, but I’ve actually already finished it,” she says. “I actually wrote three albums over the course of four years. Everybody thinks I was hiding out, but I was actually just writing a lot. I’ll let this one [ live the life it’s supposed to live.”
Lowell just released her second album on the Arts & Crafts label