Words and photos By Ambar Ramirez
On a Tuesday night, Lowertown was scheduled to open for Beabadoobee at Underbelly. When I arrived, the line to get in was wrapped around the building. I had never been in a line that long at Underbelly, let alone to see a band that is just making its way into fame. But as the band began to perform on the colorfully lit stage, I started to understand why the line was so long.
I think we have all dreamed about starting a band with our best friend, but one excuse or the other, the dream is never fulfilled. Lowertown’s Olivia Osby and Avsha Weinberg can’t say the same. With a freshly released album, <Love to Lie>, and having recently been named Best New Artist by Pigeons & Planes, the band is rising in the ranks, and they are definitely an artist to keep a close eye on.
Folio: How did you guys meet? What’s the story behind Lowertown?
Lowertown: Well, uh, we met in high school in our sophomore year of high school. Liv had moved to the school that I was going to and she had a couple of friends, but we, you know, we didn’t really know each other super well, and we were in the same math class together, and we kind of built a friendship a little bit over, like, looking and talking about the music that we were listening to.
And over the year we kind of had some ups and downs and then we became really close friends, and we decided to take a trip to Canada the summer after our sophomore year. On that trip was where I showed Liv some of my demos.
And I was like, “I think you would sound great on these. Do you wanna sing on some of these demos?” And she was like, “That would be amazing.” … My basement is where we recorded our first record “Friends” just based on those demos that I had shown her in Canada.
<Usually, coming up with a band name takes a lot of planning since it’s what everyone will be screaming while they perform on stage. But for the duo, the journey to finding a band name ended with the name finding them. It was while wandering around Canada that the pair came up with the band name they would begin their rise to fame with.>
Lowertown: We went to Ottawa, and we were in ByWard Market. We wanted to go to a body of water, and we didn’t know which one to go to, so we just went to Google Maps and walked towards whatever was blue. We ended up in Lower Town, which is an area where we ended up getting, like, chased down the street by some screaming people. And we were like, “That’s crazy.”And then that’s why we ended up naming the band that.
Folio: That’s a great story. How would you guys describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
Lowertown: Oh, it’s confusing. Probably, I guess for this album now: emotional, anxiety, lo-fi punk? Yes. Emotional anxiety, lo-fi punk.
Folio: Wow. You guys just made your own genre. That’s incredible. I mean, there is definitely a lot of anxiety happening in the world with everything going on, so it’s great to have music that kind of fits into that.
<In just four years, the band has come out with three albums and a stack of singles, all of which showcase experimentation with music and vocals. Lowertown is definitely setting their own path when it comes to the music they produce, and they are not afraid to show a sense of vulnerability through their veracious lyrics.>
Folio: You guys just came out with your album, <Love to Lie>. What was the inspiration behind it?
Lowertown: We recorded this record in London in, I think, November and December of last year. And it was a very kind of tumultuous process. It was like the dead of winter in London. It was pretty isolating and barren. We went into the studio when it was dark out, and we came out when it was dark out. And like there just wasn’t a lot of light in the studio, so it was kind of a bit dark.
Then near the end of recording, we both got really sick. We got COVID, and so we kind of finished it up and put some pieces together while we were quarantining in our small apartment in London. And yeah, it was kind of inspired by our time living in New York and living in London.
Folio: So that kind of leads me to my next question, where do you guys grab your inspiration from? Is it more personal things or things you see online?
Lowertown: I think it’s personal for both of us. This project is really like how we feel about the world and how the world feels about us, and that’s kind of what I say is the difference between our older projects and this project. Our older projects are much more like how we feel about the world and a little more centered on us.
And this new one is that, but it’s also how the world feels about us and how we feel about the world feeling about us. It’s a little more wide-scoped and a little more like processed emotion, you know? Like, a little more thoughtful.
I think we’re just at the point in our lives where we have more of a vocabulary and a way to describe those emotions. Whereas when you’re younger, you really just are overwhelmed by all these new experiences, and just honestly, it’s a lot more raw and childlike, I think.
Folio: That’s really cool. So it’s just like very honest music.
<Even while performing, the band not only sang their honest music but put on a very honest show. Osby and Weinberg have a way of connecting with the audience that makes it feel like you’re packed in a friend’s garage watching a neighborhood band jam session. Osby even jumped into the head-banging crowd while keeping a perfect tune. Nothing about their performance felt staged or fabricated.>
Folio: What’s it like to perform in front of a large audience? And what’s your favorite part about being a musician?
Lowertown: We love to write, like, I think writing is the most therapeutic and emotional part or, like, the thing that resonated with us at the beginning and resonates with us still the most. And it’s because that’s our way of getting our feelings out and our most direct pipeline between our feelings and our creative endeavors in what we put out into the world. So yeah, I think we’re majority writers, but we are learning now how to perform.
We had our first tour ever this year, but we’ve had three tours so far this year. And we’re learning a lot and it’s awesome. It’s just like learning another category of music. Something else interesting to do and to learn and to understand, and hopefully, it will also be therapeutic in itself as well. And it sometimes does end up being, but it can be a pretty daunting and weird experience being looked at.
<While messing around with demos in their basement, these two best friends never thought they would become successful enough to make a living off their music, let alone be performing in front of such crowds. >
Folio: That’s really cool that you guys are learning as you kind of go. I know you just graduated from high school two years ago. Did you ever think you would be where you are now?
Lowertown: Definitely not. We actually got signed when we were 18, and we didn’t really grow up in New York or L.A. or in like an entertainment industry place. So it seemed really foreign, to me at least, to ever be in the industry at all.
And it still feels foreign to me and I kind of like it that way ’cause I don’t ever want to be really in tune with the industry. That’s just not really my thing. But I think we always really trusted our music, and we knew that it would resonate with people. And we didn’t really think it would blow up or that we’d ever be playing with big people or like playing to these kinds of audiences.
But we always knew that our music would resonate with people because it felt so close and personal to us, but we honestly didn’t really care about getting super huge or anything. I love that we can live off of our music. But definitely, you know, the most important thing is to make the music for us. And that’ll always be the most important thing.
<And resonate it does. While the band is new to the music scene and has a long way to go, they are off to a strong start. With vulnerable lyrics and candid performances, it will be no surprise to see how quickly they rise to fame.>