Lindsay White was born and raised in the small farming town of Corcoran California. Influenced by the church music of her grandparents, the folk music in her dad’s record player, and the female singer-songwriters of the 90’s, Lindsay started writing songs and playing gigs at the age of 13, but it wasn’t until her move to San Diego at age 22 that she got serious about songwriting. Using music as her primary outlet to overcome personal struggles including her parents’ divorce, her own divorce and a sexual identity crisis, Lindsay released her first long-awaited solo album “Tracks” in October 2010. The album has received much praise and is now available on iTunes and Amazon.
Lindsay White, I have been a fan since I heard you play, in San Diego, at one of Cathryn Beeks’ songwriting events
Well thank you! I have been a fan of yours since that same event!
You’re very kind. It’s my privilege and pleasure to be able to talk to talented artists and folks in this crazy biz we are in. Please tell us a little of singer/songwriter Lindsay White’s journey.
Personal or Musical Journey?
I guess it all intertwines. I’ll start with my musical journey:
It’s funny you mention Cathryn Beeks because she helped me start my musical journey here in San Diego. I challenge you to find someone in another city who is single-handedly doing as much for a local music community. Cathryn helped me book my first shows that weren’t just open mics. Once I got brave enough, I slowly added band members, and that became Lindsay & the White Lies. It’s nice having a band primarily because they are the brothers I’ve never had, but also because I can play bigger venues like The House of Blues now. For the last year or so I’ve also been playing with Veronica May, both as a duo and in another old-timey 6-piece performance band called The Forget Me Nots. Maybe it’s my own insecurity speaking, but I’ve always kind of felt like a musical dark horse here in San Diego. I’m not the kind of girl who will knock your socks off with my musicianship, but I’ve got something important to say if you take the time to listen. On the other hand there are so many fantastic established names here so I’m happy to be even be a small footnote in the pages of San Diego music history.
Personally, I had a rough go of things awhile back. Without going into too much detail, I was dealing with what seemed like one catastrophic event after the other. My grandpa died. My parents got divorced. Then I got divorced after the realization that I was gay hit me like a ton of bricks. I made agonizing decisions that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. I hurt a lot of people who I still love very much and I wish they were still in my life. My mother and I don’t speak anymore and that haunts me on a daily basis. And then I fell in love with one Miss Veronica May. You’d think that would be where things started to turn around, but no. Love can be a dreadful thing when the timing is wrong, and it was very wrong for both of us. After a lot of therapy (both musical and the kind you pay a stranger for), I got to a point where I was finally okay in my own skin and didn’t “need” anyone to make me happy. And that was the day that the timing finally got right with one Miss Veronica May. The good thing about the mess behind us is we are always considerate and never take each other for granted. If any of you readers out there are jealous that I get to date her, you should be. I love her exponentially.
You are a San Diego favorite; tell us a bit about the music scene in San Diego, especially for singer/songwriters
The music scene here (at least the circle I am familiar with) is 100% family. Thanks to people like Cathryn, we have created this non-competitive support group. You don’t have to be cool or look a certain way or be a musical prodigy to get in this group- you just have to show up and be nice. Just last night Veronica and I went to Claire de Lune in North Park to listen to some local musicians. It warmed my heart to see so many of my peers in the audience with the “night off” who just came to listen. I love being a part of that more than anything.
Your style is uniquely listenable, colored with amazing vocal inflections– do you write to highlight those qualities?
Thank you for the compliment! The only thing I ever really try to highlight is the words I use. I’ve always considered myself a poet that happens to sing. Words come first…melody and music can always be figured out later. No word makes it into one of my songs on accident. I obsess about them. That’s why I always say my music is only good as the ears hearing it. Don’t get me wrong, I love coming up with a catchy melody, but that’s definitely not my focus.
You’re performing has been described as Dylan meets Jewel, do you think that’s accurate or fair?
Well, considering I came up with that description, I suppose it’s fair. People ask you to describe your music, and that’s always a strange question. So a few years ago, I just came up with “Dylan in a skirt meets Jewel with an attitude…and better shoes.” While it’s a decent one-liner, I wouldn’t say it’s an all-encompassing comparison. As for describing myself performance-wise, I love to have fun and rock out with the band, but I am most comfortable singing solo or with Veronica in a listening-room setup. I want those audience ears!
And they deserve to hear you. What inspires you to write?
I’m pretty sure if I wouldn’t have thrown myself full-force into writing back when I was having a tough go of things, I may have become an alcoholic. I think my music reached a new level of maturity in that time. When I go back and listen to the songs, I am reminded of how I wrung my guts out in them. I don’t think I could have found a more productive way to cope with grief, so I am very thankful for that. Also, I do have a strong desire to connect with others through writing and music. I record and post videos of most of my songs, so it’s like I share an ongoing video-diary with the world. It may sound weird, but I think it is my life’s purpose to be as open as I can with as many people as possible, so music helps me do that in an awesome way. There is no better feeling than helping someone articulate their feelings through your words.
I most certainly agree, poetry and lyrics, for me, are children of the same mother. You lyrics have are very poetic and interesting feel. Do you consider yourself a Poet as well as a songwriter? Do you write the lyrics – then the music – or the music first then the music?
When I start writing a song, the guitar doesn’t usually even come into the picture until days later. I’ll brainstorm mountains of words, then whittle those down into perfection (in my head at least). All the while, I sort of hum melodies in my head to make sure the cadence (or meter if you want to speak poetically) will work in a song. It’s funny but I think my early love for Shel Silverstein made me pretty good at that. Now that I’m at a happier place in my life, I don’t have as much to “say”, so to speak, so I’m venturing out into the land of instrumental writing. It is important to be able to express yourself with just notes sometimes.
Here’s a little verse that I slaved over forever. I always laugh about this song because I wrote the lyrics so meticulously and when I play it live at bars people just groove to the beat and have no concern with what I’m saying. My musician friends and I have a joke about playing bar gigs where we pretend to scream “Put down your nacho!” at the non-listening crowd.
A poetic masterpiece…How does mood affect your songwriting?
Now that I am in a better place, I go see my therapist every month or so just to check-in. When I’m not in the thick of despair, it’s pleasant but doesn’t feel like I’m about to go to battle with my own soul. We talk about my “day job” and other secondary issues that I can finally start focusing on now that the true grit has been worked out. It’s pleasant when things are good -one time I didn’t even cry. It’s the same with songwriting. If everything is great, I don’t always feel that writing is a necessity. But I know it’s there for me to turn to when I need it. That said, there have been moments in my relationship with Veronica where I have been so overwhelmed by love for her, I have to write a song about it. I try not to make those too cheesy. I am the queen of the metaphor. While most of my songs are autobiographical, I like to transport my personal story elsewhere so I can write more dynamically. On my new album, I play the characters of Rapunzel, Dorothy, a Harry Houdini’s assistant, and a Recipe Card, to name a few.
What is more important to you – writing or performing?
Writing is my number one. I would love to get out on tour and get some exposure, and I have a blast performing with all the projects I am involved in. However, it is my ambition to get song placements in TV/Film, etc. I want to be the song you hear when your favorite Grey’s Anatomy characters break up. Music placement is no easy feat for an army of one so I welcome any and all suggestions.
You are incredibly hard working, tell us something of a day in the life of Lindsay White.
Wake up around 6:30. V and I just started a morning routine that involves morning prayers (inhaling positive energy/thoughts, and exhaling negative energy/fears three times in a row) followed by a fun activity like a walk, coloring, yoga, etc. If my hair is extremely greasy I’ll take a shower but I won’t be happy about it. Get dressed and be at work by 8am. (I’m a sales & marketing manager at a corporate event planning company). Manage the office while copying and pasting proposals like a maniac. Lunch and a Jeopardy match at the house with Veronica for an hour. Back to work til 5:30pm, if it’s a lucky day, work on marketing stuff which I love because I get to be creative. All the while, posting social media updates for both music and day job. After work could involve either dinner and relaxing or writing or rehearsing or performing, depending on the day. Cuddle up to Veronica for the rest of the evening (right now we switch off reading chapters out loud of this hilarious book by Chelsea Handler), say our nightly prayer/intention and try to get to bed before midnight. Wednesdays & Saturdays are reserved for errands, promotion, research and booking efforts. Sunday is the most glorious day of the week. It is the only day Veronica and I don’t work so we try to spend the day together doing something relaxing like going to the farmers market in hillcrest or taking epic walks.
You use the Internet to promote yourself – how important is that to a songwriter?
I guess it depends on the songwriter. As I mentioned I like being able to make a connection with people, so in that regard the internet is a huge tool for me. I am fascinated though with how we seem to be developing split personalities as a culture (not just songwriters/self-promoters). I don’t think anyone is intentionally creating alter-egos of themselves, but there’s no denying that places like facebook are truly places. It is a whole other dimension I live in. For instance, I could be completely comfortable carrying on a conversation with someone on Facebook, but if I was actually in a room with them I might not be perceived the same way. I am simultaneously fascinated and disgusted by technology.
What is the worst thing about working to make it in today’s music biz?
Well for starters, it’s pretty difficult to make a buck unless you can stomach singing Sweet Home Alabama in a bar five nights a week. (To be clear, I don’t look down on those who do this for a living; in fact, lots of friends are able to make it work and I totally respect that.) I guess what I mean is I wish the arts were appreciated and given proper funding and support. Other than that, it’s the business itself that is the hardest part. Most of us are creative beings who want nothing to do with learning the business side. But you have to suck up and learn that side of it if you want to get anywhere financially speaking. I’m lucky that I have decent organizational skills, etc., and I’m willing to learn that side of things. But it’s not fun, it’s very time-consuming and I wish I had someone to help me do it.
Technology makes it so much easier to be self-sufficient. And it’s easier to get shit done without having to pick up the phone. I hate talking on the phone.
Let’s move five years ahead – where do you see yourself?
I see myself perhaps in the same career or industry but working mainly in marketing or something creative. In my perfect world, I will be legally married to one Miss Veronica May and be in the process of working off the baby fat after just giving birth (with the help of some awesome donor we have yet to meet). And we will be doing the same things together that we do now. Make music, have fun, and love each other. Maybe by then my mother and I will be speaking.
Tell us about your new album. (The very talented, and- hopefully- willing to do a future interview, Veronica May said this about the album.)
“If you want an album that you can interpretive dance to, cry to, laugh to, sing to, rock to, listen to, relate to then you need this album. It is a great chance to get up close and personal with Lindsay’s lyrics. If Lindsay’s album was:A vegetable: It would be an onion. Many layers, and you will cry…and lots o’ flavor. A person: Paula Deen, the chef. Very down-to-earth and no bullshit. Creative…sans butter. A saved by the bell episode: The episode that ran November 3rd, 1990..Jessie Spano has a drug addiction and says “I’m so excited…I’m so….scared”. Reason? This is an intense and awesome episode. Epic. Lastly, if her album was a spice: wattleseed, because it can be put into any dish…and come on, wattleseed? You know you want that.”
That is probably the best blurb I have ever read. Okay- now- what’s with the shoes???
I like shopping at thrift stores and you never have to be skinny to wear a hot shoe. So I just started collecting them kind of. I think last time I counted I was at about 40 pairs…compared to Veronica’s three.
Thank you Lindsay – for your candor and generosity, and many thanks to Veronica for her input.
Lindsay’s Links (free download fridays!)
www.facebook.com/fmenots (Forget Me Nots page)
Ken and Dave
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