Need to Know: Logan Lynn
By Gregory Miller
Logan Lynn's emo-disco-pop blend has already made him a hit with gay guys who like to hear their lives -- from the highs to the lows -- set to music. His ability to capture melancholy and melody is really no surprise, given that the grandmother who taught him about music also taught a similarly emotional man, Johnny Cash. We sat down with Lynn to find out about "bottoming his way to the top," feuding with Jeffree Star, and just what "putting the discomfort in disco" actually means.
Out: I heard you have a very intimate connection to Johnny Cash.
Logan Lynn: My connection to Johnny Cash is that my grandmother on my dad's side, LaVanda Mae Fielder, taught him how to sing and play the piano back in the day. In his autobiography he tells a story about my grandma telling him not to ever take another singing lesson because they'd ruin his voice. She just thought he had natural talent.
Has that connection influenced you at all?
Well, it didn't really influence me until later on in life when I cared about Johnny Cash or stuff like that. I did learn how to play the piano on the piano that he learned how to play on. So as an adult, I've kind of had moments where I thought that was cool. You know, obviously, I've spent a lot of time around my family who were all pretty musical as a result of her sort of passing that on. I grew up in the church, and we weren't allowed to listen to Johnny Cash. We weren't allowed to listen to anything secular. But as I've gotten older, I've explored his music and thought that connection was cool.
Logo calls your music 'moody dance-pop.' Do you think that's fair?
Yeah, I do think so. My sound has changed a little bit over the years, obviously, as I've grown and started working with other people. But I think my roots are still firmly planted in electro-pop. I think to say it's moody is sort of an understatement. [Laughs.] I think it's very moody. I don't think it's dark. I find a connection with the rawness of what I'm saying. I try not to hold back. A lot of times that comes off as immature [laughs], like I'm sort of stuck in my own zone or whatever. But I think those feelings are universal -- feelings of love, and loss, and some of the darker themes that people are going through.
It seems like your following is a big influence on you.
I think that's true. I've spent the last few years getting to know the people in my network, which is maybe different than some other bands. I know their names, I'm in communication with a lot of them back and forth. I've really spent a lot of time since 2006 building up that relationship and trying to find out not only what kind of music they want, but how they want all that to look. I think it's definitely more about my fan base and my following than my label. We sort of followed suit, looking at similar bands who used Popspin [a media company that helps artists bring music to their fans], like Metric. Some of those other bands that are just completely self-made and having huge successes. And a lot of that has to do with listening to their fans and figuring out what they want, instead of just marketing them the same way we would the High School Musical soundtrack. You've got to kind of know your audience and figure out what's valuable to them, versus what the industry thinks is valuable.
Your catchphrase is 'putting the disco back into discomfort.' What does that even mean?
Um, I'm not exactly sure what that means. [Laughs.] It's been around for a few years. I think before I needed some kind of quick one-liner thing to get people's attention. You know, I kind of built this all up on MySpace. You have that little tag line area -- it needed to fit there. Someone had written that, I believe, at some point after a show I had performed, and I kind of just adopted it early on. I think that's changed a little bit as my music has become a little less disco. And maybe it's less about discomfort and more about trying to find the light or whatever. The material, lyrically, is kind of heavy at times, and it's sort of this 'spoonful of sugar' idea, where the music itself doesn't necessarily sound as heavy as the lyrics. So together it makes it so the listener can process it, and it's not like a huge bummer.
Did you, as one of your new song titles suggests, (see the video above) 'bottom your way to the top?'
[Laughs.] I didn't personally do that. This new record is all about the ending of my relationship that I'd been in for six years, and trying to get well -- ending relationships with chemicals, ending relationships with people in my life. And that was just something my partner screamed at me at one point, and it turned into a song. I think it's something I've gone through in my experience of getting here, not bottoming my way to the top by any means, but running into things with my relationship as my career started to progress. They just weren't lining up. I take responsibility for half of that, for sure. I did make things extra complicated. When we got together, I wasn't doing this. So things change.