Logan Lynn’s resume reads like a true Renaissance Man: writer, producer, television personality and activist. Most importantly he is also a survivor of substance abuse and is “staying grateful” to continue contributing to society constructively, while continuing to evolve from his electro-pop and dance foundation musically. He has released seven studio albums, fifteen music videos, four singles, three compilation records, five EP’s and one mixtape since 1998. Videos of Lynn’s singles have been featured on Logo, MTV, VH1 and Spike TV.
With his eighth album Adieu being released in the coming weeks, Logan Lynn is premiering the hard rocking track “The One” that pays tribute to old Portland friends The Dandy Warhols and their landmark Stones’ riff hit “Bohemian Like You.” Lynn has always had a knack for making danceable rock and pop and with “The One,” he shows that he can now confidently rock out with the same gusto. To kick off the New Year, Glide chatted with Lynn about the new album, his new sound and his many contributions to his musical and creative environments
Your eighth album Adieu is due for release this year and with it comes a new sound. Can you please share with us what the new sound might be?
Well, I am known historically for being largely electropop or dance. My first record GLEE came out 15 years ago and was very much all about me and my Casio SK-1 being super lo-fi and glitchy…it was anti-pop. Over the years, and now seven albums later, my creative process has morphed. I work with a full band these days, and have been with my collaborator Gino Mari for nearly a decade at this point. We play instruments on my songs now. That was never the case before 2010, and Adieu is the first album I’ve released where that process was used the whole time. No outside collaborators or producers, just A cappella hymns from somewhere in my brain that Gino Mari and I build out by ourselves. It’s very real and raw, which is scary on some level, but completely freeing and exhilarating at the same time.
What most influenced you on this album in terms of going in a specific direction? What inspired you?
This record is all about me going back to my roots — the old Portland music scene I came up in, the bands and artists who mentored me and taught me everything I know, my earliest influences — I wanted the album to sound pure, timeless, and familiar somehow. My lyric and melody writing has always been influenced by Elliott Smith, Liz Phair, The Sundays, The Innocence Mission, The Dandy Warhols…but this is the first time those influences feel like they have a distinct place at the table sonically, as well.
Do you see a pattern in your studio albums in terms of lyrical content and music growth as you look back? What album do you feel is most defining of you as an artist overall?
Oh, for sure. I mean…I was 16 years old when I was writing the songs on my first record and 19 when it was released. To have all of my teenage thoughts and sounds out there still is, well…experiential, to say the least. Thankfully, the pattern in the years since has been that I get better each time. This album we are putting out this year, “Adieu”, is 16 songs and a beast. It is, hands down, my best work so far, and I feel that these stories are my bravest and most honest, which I hope is how I am defined as an artist. That is how I define my own success as a creator, for sure.
You’ve been able to enter the dance realm with a level of artistic credibility few can reasonably achieve. How have you managed to incorporate this without lowering your standards?
My music has always been about me telling a story lyrically, and my songs have always been focused on the feeling experience behind whatever that story is at any given time. That’s what people connect with, whether it’s set to blaring synths and pumping bass, or one string accompaniment on a piano or acoustic guitar. I love pop and dance music, and I also hate that it is often cold and dead feeling. I have often found myself emboldened by music to speak my own sometimes unspeakable truth and, while that truth has changed many times over the years as I have grown into the person I am today, the principle of being fearless with my own self-exposure lyrically, and how I show up around those lyrics, has remained the same throughout, no matter what genre or musical vehicle I’m using at any given time at the outlet.
What are your thoughts on the modern EDM movement that has kind of taken over the dance scene in recent years?
(laughs) I mean…I was a house DJ in the late 90s Kansas City rave scene, so I get it. It’s really just the same scene we had back then, only instead of having to go from secret location to secret location collecting maps to illegal parties at warehouses, it’s gone mainstream. There’s something sad about it, because that was such a special time in the electronic music subculture, but it’s cool to watch it take flight. I don’t think any of us back then could have imagined the impact we were having on mainstream culture. It’s pretty wild.
What artists would you consider as your contemporaries and if you had to curate a festival please name a few acts you would like on it?
My buddies the Chromatics, Perfume Genius, Whitey, Tegan and Sara, Bleachers, Lily Allen, Matt and Kim, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Kate Nash…I dig what all of those folks are up to when I think about who my contemporaries are, and that lineup is already sounding like the festival of my dreams.
You’ve been very vocal in your mental and behavioral health issues. Is there something you’d like to share with our readers about these stigmas and what society needs to do better embrace these issues? Do you feel as if social media and facebook has contributed negatively to society’s well being?
Yes, I had some very public struggles with drugs and alcohol which showed up in my music, in my personal life, and in the media for years. I will be celebrating my having been eight years clean this coming March, and have used the time since getting well to raise awareness about mental and behavioral health issues. In 2013 I did a national tour where 100% of the profits went to support mental health organizations in each of the cities where we performed, and in 2015 I launched a public advocacy campaign and concert series to fight stigma through rock and roll, called “Keep Oregon Well”.
So far, we have had close to a hundred shows as part of the concert series, partnering with bands like Walk Off The Earth, Flo-Rida, Bleachers, Charli XCX, The Dandy Warhols, David Gray, Tori Kelly, Priory, Of Monsters And Men and tons of others to raise awareness about mental health and begin to change the conversation. We are entering into our second year of the campaign and have lots of great artists lined up already to join our efforts in 2016. The fact is, we ALL are experiencing our own mental health every second of every day. The stigma surrounding brain illness or behavioral challenges kills people, so I am determined to do what I can to interrupt that. Plain and simple, your brain is just another body part that you have to take care of. \
As for social media, I think there are positives and negatives. It has certainly made the world smaller, which has made these types of conversations easier to access…but it has also served to isolate people further. Social media, like all media, is a tool. In the right hands, it can be beautiful. In the wrong hands, well…you know the rest.
You spent much of your formative creative years in Kansas City and then later Portland, OR. What do you recall most from those years in terms of creative growth and what did those creative communities provide for you both healthy and unhealthy?
Creatively, both scenes were absolutely instrumental in my growth as an artist. Being friends with Elliott Smith and Courtney Taylor-Taylor (The Dandy Warhols) as a teenager when I first moved to Portland — before anyone was famous or successful — really shaped who I would become as a writer and public person. The unhealthy side to any scene I was involved in before getting my shit together in 2008 was that we were all on drugs. Lots of my people from those days are dead now. I miss them every day, and I feel so lucky to have made it through the fire in one piece.
Did you set any New Years resolutions for 2016 this year?
It’s not really a resolution, but life is so good right now. I am determined to enjoy every single magical moment of it. And to stay grateful.