I thought it was time to branch out of the Los Angeles indie scene and take a little drive down the Interstate 5. I went behind the Orange Curtain and found myself eating sandwiches with Lindsay White.
We met at the Gypsy Den, a cozy and comfortable cafe located in Santa Ana’s Artists’ Village. The vibe was chill and the food was amazing. It was the perfect setting for a lovely Saturday afternoon, and my first time meeting the San Diego-based singer- songwriter.
So who is she? She’s the little sister of one of my old college friends. She’s a woman who grew up in a little town called Corcoran. She writes songs that are witty and honest, but most importantly, Lindsay White is “Dylan in a skirt meets Jewel with an attitude and better shoes.” Catchy. I liked that.
“I grew up on Dylan and I really respect his songwriting. And then when I got into my pre-teen years and Jewel came out with her first CD, and I wore that thing out… that’s when I picked up the guitar and started writing my own songs,” Lindsay says.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? Lindsay is referring to the 1990s. This is the decade that had an influx of female singers, who were highly successful and highly recognized for their radio hits. From the likes of Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, and Liz Phair, these women displayed their songwriting prowess and can-do attitudes without holding back.
Lindsay’s vocal style gets compared to Jewel’s quite often, which is taken as a compliment; however, she believes that her lyrics are just a tad more sarcastic. For example, her song, “All Damn Day” explains her frustrations with happy people. As dark and as negative as it sounds, Lindsay uses her songwriting as an outlet. In other words, she keeps it real.
“I struggle to keep my glass half empty, always kind of mildly depressed. I manage to get through life a cheerful person on the outside, but a lot of what I write about is being the most honest I can be, so a lot of my songs have dark undertones,” she explains.
This is a theme that goes unnoticed in many poems, songs and stories. It is difficult for some artists, even with sunny dispositions, to create something that is always on the upbeat side of things. Lindsay believes that when a person is happy, there is no longer a need to reach a level of satisfaction. And by using her songwriting as an outlet, she would hate to be too cheesy.
But then again, Lindsay wears funky shoes. Not cheesy shoes, but definitely cool and unique. They range from animal print, to vibrant red, and striped to neon green. An idea that was developed over the last year, she started wearing funky footwear at her shows because “you don’t have to be skinny to wear cool shoes.” It has helped her stand out amongst other performers and her fan base in San Diego always wonder which pair her feet will don next. Her 35 pairs of shoes will keep her supporters guessing for a long time.
Although she attended college in Los Angeles, Lindsay moved to San Diego in 2005 with the intentions of coaching basketball. Music took a temporary ride in the backseat at this stage in her life, but in no time, it regained its place as her number one hobby. The move to San Diego also served as an escape from the cutthroat, competitive environment of Los Angeles to a place that felt more welcoming, supportive and family-oriented. She intends to stay in the San Diego area where the singer-songwriter genre is definitely growing. Lindsay admits that pulling an audience to a show can still be challenging, but she acknowledges that the music scene in San Diego is slowly progressing to something bigger and better.
There comes a struggle with being an independent artist. Dealing with issues such as noise, drunkards and other factors that come along with the setting of bars and open mic nights can be disheartening. Without formal representation and management, the “do it yourself” method has its share of both positives and negatives. For Lindsay, the most important thing is to be heard above the noise, by the handful of people standing right before her, and listening to what she has to say.
With the help of a newly formed back up band, the sounds of percussion, a second guitar, and a bassist now accompany Lindsay’s voice and guitar. The added layers give Lindsay the ability to build and lay down tracks in the studio with a newfound vision. The building of layers is similar to the way she composes a song, according to one of her friends.
“It’s like I chop up the ingredients separately throughout the song and then at the end, I sort of reveal the whole dish altogether, so that was nice and kind of true about how I write my music,” she says.
Lindsay has gigs lined up around San Diego and is planning to release her first album in the summer of this year. Titled Tracks, the selection of songs on the album varies on style, with a mix of country and blues and her signature folk-rock. Eagerly anticipating the release of her record, she hopes to combine this exciting event with a photography exhibit of one of her favorite San Diego photographers, Alfonso de Alba.
She would love to converge two different kinds of art. Supporting other artists is extremely important to her, as many of them are her friends. The venue is yet to be determined, but it will definitely be a place that incorporates both good sound and good lighting. Oh… and Lindsay’s funky shoes.