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Interview: Lany

“The only reason we’re able to come over and play Hong Kong is because of the internet and Spotify”

Written by
Graham Turner

Diaristic and explicit, Lany (pronounced lay-nee and standing for Los Angeles New York) reflect the current paradigm of millennial relationships and dialogue, steeped in acronyms and literals. Yet their confessional lyrics are juxtaposed with a sound that is eminently danceable, filled with effervescent electronica and wistful melodies. Theirs is music about love for the 20-something that’s tired of living life through a smartphone.

It’s ironic then that the trio’s meteoric rise has been tremendously informed by Spotify, where they’ve become the most streamed band of all time on the service’s Discovery platform. We catch up with lead vocalist/guitarist Paul Jason Klein ahead of the band’s Hong Kong debut on August 8 at KITEC.

You’ve always been pretty stringent on remaining true to your artistic integrity, do you feel that the amount of traction you gain through things like Spotify has vindicated that approach?
I think our relationship with Spotify is really genuine and authentic. They’ve been there from the very beginning for us. There’s a lot of people who listen to music on Spotify and we’ve been really lucky to have their approval and have them on-board. They’ve grown a lot since we started making music and we’ve grown a lot as well. It’s mutually beneficial.

Do you understand the concerns certain artists have regarding Spotify and royalties?
To be honest, we weren’t making music before Spotify, so the whole royalty thing hasn’t really been an issue for us. So, I don’t really have much to say about how much or how little money they pay artists. It is what it is. We make it work.

How do you think platforms like Spotify and social media have changed how people engage with music?
I think it’s made it easier for artists to go international. At the end of the day, if you don’t have good songs, you don’t have a future in music. But if you make good songs, write good music and utilise the internet in a positive way… Put it this way, the only reason why we’re able to come over and play Hong Kong, and we’re in New Zealand right now, is because of the internet and Spotify.

Your self-titled debut album came out last month, how’ve you found the reaction to it?
It’s been overwhelmingly positive. It’s inevitable that some people aren’t going to like it – and when you run your own Twitter account, you see all the positives and the negatives – but, yeah, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive response.

You’ve had a pretty meteoric rise. How has life changed for the three of you? Are you happy with where you’re at?
[Laughs] Yeah, I’m super happy. But we do work really hard and sometimes it feels like things can’t move fast enough. But we are, at the end of the day, extremely thankful and grateful for our position. I don’t know if our lives look totally different: it’s just a lot of travelling and playing shows and trying to develop and cultivate a personal connection with our fans. 

How’s the current tour going? It sounds pretty hectic.
We’ve already played close to 70 shows. This leg of the tour technically started a couple of weeks ago in Melbourne. Playing there was the first show since releasing our album. There’s something different in the air when you put out an album as a band. Things feel different. It feels thicker, weightier and like there’s more at stake. It’s a cool feeling.

How have the new songs been going down live?
We’re about to come to Asia for the first time and it’s important, as a band, to know who your audience is. It wouldn’t make sense for us to walk in and play a bunch of brand new songs from the debut album when we’ve never been to Asia before and the people who love us from Asia have only heard songs from our EPs. But, the new songs we’ll definitely be playing in Asia are Purple Teeth, The Breakup, It Was Love, Flowers on the Floor – those are all songs off the album.

Sounds like it’ll be a pretty mixed set here in Hong Kong.
Yeah. Honestly, the set has never sounded better. It’s like 75 minutes, but for us, it flies by. I think the same goes for everyone. It’s got a really cool flow to it.

You guys have a very close relationship with your fans. Is that something that’s been difficult to maintain as you’ve gotten more and more popular?
I want to say it hasn’t been difficult but there have been a few growing pains. I remember when a girl on the last tour who had been with us since the very beginning walked into our green room about 45 seconds after we stepped off the stage. You have to establish some sort of healthy boundary. But it’s not that hard to maintain the intimacy. I run all of our social media accounts, I design all the merch, we write the captions, write the newsletters. We do everything. It’s so hands on. No matter how big we get, it’ll always feel that way.

What are your expectations for Hong Kong?
I haven’t, but my aunt and uncle lived in Hong Kong for, I want to say, ten years. My uncle worked for Hilton but I never got to come over and visit. I’m really excited, I know very little and this is our first time in Asia really. We’ve been to the Philippines and Singapore for like 24 hours so we’re excited to properly visit.

What can fans expect from the show?
I think it’s always a little bit louder and rowdier than people expect. It’s very intense. It’s an aggressive experience in the best way. Our songs get pretty big live and a lot of people sing back every single word. It’s 75 minutes of intense emotion.

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