A year ago, Mary Lambert could be found plugging away in Seattle's singer-songwriter scene with relative anonymity. That was before she got swept up in the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis phenomenon. Lambert's chorus provides the personal, emotional core of the duo's hit single "Same Love." Without her, the song merely consists of outside observations of the LGBT rights experience. With her, the song connects to the movement. She makes the song real.
Now, she's parlaying the appeal of "Same Love" into her own music with the spinoff tune "She Keeps Me Warm." She'll be releasing a music video for the song in the coming week, and that's only part of Lambert's hectic end-of-August schedule. Also on the docket: Performing with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at this weekend's MTV Video Music Awards (August 25 at 9), opening for Tegan and Sara in Jacksonville, Oregon, and headlining her biggest hometown show to date, with backing accompaniment by the Passenger String Quartet, at Neumos on August 28.
For our latest Fiendish Conversation, we chatted with Lambert about writing a spinoff song, dream collaborations, and pre-show hype music.
What led you to write “She Keeps Me Warm” and how does one go about writing a spinoff song?
People wanted to hear “Same Love” at my shows, and I just felt weird playing the track. I’m not really down to put the things on an iPod and then play them. And I didn’t want to just sing the chorus part by itself. So I thought, why not just make a song around it. I had this song that was originally called “Baby,” and I stopped playing it because the chorus was kind of weird. People liked the verses, but I put it on the back burner. And then I thought about how cute it would be for the chorus to “Same Love.” I thought it would be a different side to the story of what “Same Love” is; a non-political side to it. So I started playing it at shows and people really liked it. And I played it for KEXP in studio, and the response was overwhelming. So I decided to record it and here we are.
What’s been the craziest thing you’ve experienced since “Same Love” came out?
Recently was playing at Sasquatch!. I’m really proud of that performance too, I feel like it was one of my best performances. I was just so touched; the whole community was there and supportive. I just felt everybody’s heart. And I really loved going on The Colbert Report, because I watch the show religiously.
The other thing, which I wasn’t expecting, was during election time last year. I happened to home from tour on election week, surrounded by this beautiful community that was all on the same page with everything. We were all huddled together at the Wild Rose, watching as it unfolded, and then people just started celebrating in the streets. I met up with my girlfriend in the middle of the street and “Same Love” was blaring out of people’s cars. It was this beautiful moment that I really felt a part of.
What are your future plans? Do you have plans for a full length record?
Yeah. Right now I have an agenda of what I want to do: I want to do a video for another song called “Body Love” and then I want to start tracking the album. I want to get my book published (in January Lambert independently released a collection of poetry called 500 Tips for Fat Girls). I want to do a lot of shows. And I want to collaborate with a lot of people. I feel like the rap world is really good about that. They’re really good about featuring people and bringing other people on, and it’s fun. I just don’t see that in a lot of other art forms.
Who would be your dream collaborations?
I really want to do a song with Feist. She’s my biggest musical hero; I think everything she touches is gold. I’d love to do something with St. Vincent. I want to do a song with the Indigo Girls, to live my childhood dream. And I would like to give some more hip hop. I’d love to do a song with Kendrick Lamar. All of them. Everybody.
What are some of the acts around Seattle that, if people haven’t taken notice, they should check out?
Whitney Lyman is one of my favorite artists. Her vocals are out of control, they’re so stunning. Her orchestration is amazing, her arrangements are amazing. We went to Cornish in the composition program together, and the way she arranges in her head is just brilliant. I just fell in love with Kaylee Cole. We just did a bill together and I was like, “Where the hell did you come from?” Oh! One more: Courtney Marie Andrews.
Do you have any pre-show routine?
I used to have very strict things that I did, and that was smoke a cigarette and listen to Ludacris. And I don’t do that anymore because the shows I do now are very different. That was more for my poetry shows, when I would have to get really pumped up. I’ve been trying to take care of my voice, so I quit smoking. Now, I’m such a sap. I usually have a gin martini and I usually pray.
Mary Lambert featuring the Passenger String Quartet
Aug 28 at 9, Neumos, $10