By Ian Bremner
Unless you’ve spent some time on boats, the term may seem a bit foreign, but no sailing experience is required to enjoy Red Right Return. The 2nd album from Meagan Grandall and her brainchild, Lemolo, came out toward the end of 2015, but recently Red Right Return was released on vinyl. The album is a soothing, dreamy escape filled with layers of piano, keyboards, guitars and drums all backing the longing voice of Grandall.
Clearly excited about seeing Red Right Return in physical/vinyl form, Meagan spoke of how the album was constructed, the incredibly paired artwork and how growing up sailing in Liberty Bay near Poulsbo with her dad inspired the name.
Ian: That area of Kitsap County is so pretty. What’s the art scene like in Pouslbo?
Meagan: I mean… there’s not much of one. I go to Seattle often. There’s a new venue that opened up on Bainbridge that’s really cool called Spacecraft that’s been getting really cool bands so that’s pretty close and relatively new.
IB: Did you just start playing in Poulsbo by yourself or how did you get started? It doesn’t sound like you had to break into the scene.
MG: I’ve been into music my whole life. I started taking piano lessons when I was three and getting into that and did that all through high school. I had a lot of friends who played music in school and we played at coffee shops, there’s a little bit of that over here. Then I went to Seattle U in Capitol Hill and that’s when my horizons broadened a lot because there is so much art and so much music. That was a big part of why I went to school there too because I realized how vibrant the art culture is. I formed my band there in Seattle and that’s when I started playing shows.
MG: So amazing, oh my god. It’s amazing, I shed a few happy tears. Making a record takes so much time and so much hard work and it’s a long process, so to finally get to hold it at the end of the road, I don’t know if there are many feelings like that, that I’ve experienced, anyway.
IB: This is the first with a new drummer bandmate, did you have an idea of what you wanted to make or was there any room for improvisation during recording?
MG: I definitely had a vision going in. My process is; I like to write songs by myself. That’s the only way I’ve found I can do it. I can easily feel self-conscious, so if someone is there listening, I kind of clam up. I really love writing all of the songs and music myself and then bringing a finished song to my drummer and talking it out. “This is what I am envisioning or this style of drumming here…” Sometimes I’ll play other songs or bands I am inspired by and then we can write different drum parts and we work through that together.
IB: It’s certainly a lot of sound for two people. Do you write the songs on the guitar or the keys or are you a music technology nerd and you can do it all yourself?
MG: Oh my god, no. Definitely more old school. Either just the guitar or just the keyboard then the melodies couple with that. All of the layers, that’s something that comes later. With this record, I started getting into more looping and my drummer stated playing sample pads so now that we have that stuff, the songs we’re writing now, we can add those layers while we’re writing. It’s becoming more of the process, but no, definitely not a music tech wiz.
IB: It’s a very pretty, layered and dreamy record and sort of longing, but never sad or anything. How do you balance all of the emotion of the sounds and having to perform it?
MG: I never set out to make a certain “type” of music, it all just sort of comes from me. It’s never intentional, like “I’m going to make this dreamy music” or have anything planned out when I am writing. It’s more of an organic process. I’ve always been more attracted to minor chords and slower songs as a listener. So when I’m writing the songs, there are times when I can get really lost, but when its live, it’s usually more fun to the play the ones where you can rock out a little more. I try not to put TOO many of the slower songs right in a row. But I still have to be true to myself and my style. It’s a fine line of wanting it to be the best show possible, but also not caring TOO much about what people think because if I did that, I wouldn’t be able to do anything.
IB: As a music collector/nerd, I get a lot of out of the cover art and packaging and all that. What can you say about the cover to Red Right Return? The cloudy pink and purple.. Again, it fits the vibe perfectly
MG: Well I didn’t create that, first of all. The painting was made by an artist name Caleb Troy. To pick the album cover was a process of many months going around and around with rabbit holes online and googling art. I had an idea of what I wanted and what the title was going to be, so it was a lot of long nights searching and searching and one thing lead to another.
IB: Did you just email the artist, “My name is Meagan and I would really like to use it as an album cover?”
MG: Yeah, I just emailed him out of the blue. I was really worried he was going to say no, of course. Once I saw the painting, I knew it had to be THAT one. It was too perfect. But he is really cool and it ended up working out
IB: Did it have to do with the title?
MG: I picked Red Right Return because it’s a sailing term. When you’re sailing into your home port, there’s usually a channel marker. You’re supposed to keep the red one on the right side when you’re returning and that keeps your boat from hitting rocks and other hazards you can’t see. I grew up near Liberty Bay in Poulsbo and I would always go sailing with my dad. There’s this channel marker when you leave the bay and when you sail back into it, my dad would always say “Red Right Return” so when I looked at that painting, it actually reminded me a lot of the view I could see when I’m sailing back into Liberty Bay in a way because the clouds in the paining kind of outlined the Olympic Mountains. I know it’s pretty abstract, but when I saw the painting it really hit me. Here’s this abstract representation of this view I see when I’m sailing back home.
Listen to the gorgeous Red Right Return
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