Published on July 29, 2015. Interview by New City Arts 2015 Summer Intern, Aly Hancock: I first met Lowland Hum at New City’s Open Studios event back in June, and was immediately drawn in by their musical style. Their songs are like poetry put to music. Lowland Hum were 2014-2015 New City Artists in Residence at the Haven, and I am excited to introduce them as the inaugural duo of the 7x7x7 Series.
Name one of your favorite Charlottesville places to take an out-of-town visitor.
If the weather is nice, Blue Ridge Swim Club is a must. The owner recently built a raft out of bamboo growing on the property. A float on that thing feels so much more exotic than you can imagine.
Who is one living human who inspires your practice?
One of our dearest friends, Alan Brilliant. He started an independent publishing house called Unicorn Press in the sixties. The press was dedicated to publishing poets’ first books because no one ever wanted to take a chance on a poet’s first book of poems. He is 80 now and has continued to devote his life to poetry and creative work as a daily practice. When it comes to people we know and can be in regular communication with, we really don’t have that many examples of people who have faithfully lived a creative life despite the challenges it brings. Al writes us daily and his words and experience are an immense encouragement and guide.
Explain your artistic work in seven words.
digging, uncovering, vulnerability, naming, tracing, grasping, honing.
What role, if any, have mentors played in your artistic practice?
We have had different mentors at different times during our journey as Lowland Hum. More than influencing our artistic practice, they have influenced our health. Our work is pretty isolating because of how often we are away from home. And though we see and meet many people while we are on the road, we are rarely in one place for longer than 24 hours. It is a gift to talk to people older than us who have been doing it for longer, who have this strain in common and can relate and give us specific insight about how to stay healthy, balanced and connected to one another.
Describe your ideal environment for creative work.
It is kind of funny, but we have worked in so many kinds of spaces, it is hard to nail down an absolute ideal. We have really had to work hard at being able to work wherever we are, whether that be our living room, our car, the studio space NCAI provided us last year (which was a huge gift), or a host’s back porch when we are on the road. We stayed in a straw bale cottage on a farm in Oskaloosa, KS once while on tour. It was pretty hard to beat in terms of an inspiring songwriting space.
How has your practice changed over time?
We are constantly trying to hone our operation, which means it is always changing. We were really disorganized for a long time. I (Lauren) used to pass off chaos and disorganization as things that just came with the territory of creative work, but we are finding that parameters and systems can be liberating and really helpful when it comes to working creatively and smartly. Also in the beginning I was much less involved in all aspects of what we do. When we first started out, Daniel was writing most of the songs, and I was arranging and singing harmonies. A little after we got married, I started writing with Daniel and some on my own. It has been a process for me to find my voice, both in writing and singing. It is an area in which we are both still growing. This year in particular we have grown more deeply as a team and that has felt really rewarding.
What would you like to see more of in Charlottesville to support artists in our community?
Inexpensive work/studio space! NCAI and The Haven really helped us last year. It is a need for many artists. It’s hard to work at home with all of the distractions. It is really helpful to be able to go to work, and then leave it when the day’s work is done.
Lowland Hum is a musical duo made up of husband and wife, Daniel and Lauren Goans. Raised and anchored in North Carolina, the two spent the last few years touring all over the United States sharing their songs in homes, community gardens, barns, and other more conventional music venues. Combining Daniel’s musicianship and Lauren’s background in visual art, Lowland Hum’s performances are a multi-sensory experience engaging sight, sound, smell and touch – inviting listeners to be present and reducing the space between artist and audience. Regular fixtures of their shows include a collapsible, illuminated installation and handmade lyric books.
The opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the artist and do not necessarily represent the policies or positions of NCAI.