When we caught up with front woman of Big Thief, Adrianne Lenker, it was the eve of their LP launch for Capacity, between dinner and a night of preparation – all the stuff that happens offstage and outside the recording studio, the invisible labors. Big Thief are graduating off the back of their noteworthy debut, Masterpiece and Capacity doesn’t fail to deliver.
If you caught Lenker’s recent interview with Pitchfork, you’ll know that her childhood was anything but ordinary. Lenker was born into a cult that her parents left when she was 4, subsequently living out of a van and with many different families over the years that followed. Lenker credits her father for her start in music and began writing and recording her own songs early in life. Furthering her music knowledge during a summer program at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, she moved to New York which led to the birth of Big Thief.
Lenker’s wisdom extends beyond her years in every sense of the phrase. She is considered and measured when reflecting on the rise of Big Thief and working out how to survive with their new normal. She has a strong grasp of the mechanics behind situations, the contexts beyond the events and the bigger picture is always there even when focusing the lens on the detail.
On childhood and music
I really enjoy this memory from when I was about 14-15 of learning guitar… I got a guitar teacher and was learning lots of things like finger style acoustic guitar.
So many – both present and those not with us. We’re lucky enough to meet people on tour and get to hear their music and then getting to know them as people – Twain and Steve Fisher. Steve is a living legend. We have a lot of heroes… I could go on.
It’s challenging. It’s always changing. It’s just life – last year we spent nine months touring Masterpiece and it’s a journey… it’s like forming a family.
Capacity feels like the beginning of Big Thief really becoming a band. And there’s a lot of paying attention, too, and self-care and being present- for me, I try to be as present as I can.
I feel it all the time – hourly – minute-ly… I think it’s natural for fear and doubt to arise and it’s learning from how I meet them – embracing it with unconditional self-acceptance. Maybe it just gets smaller with time. Maybe the more you feed it, it grows – if you starve it, it gets smaller.
A piece of advice to your younger self
I’d probably say be present and accept yourself unconditionally. Although my younger self would probably be telling my future self to “Go back to future – she needs you!”
‘Capacity’ is out now via Spunk Records