Logan Lynns 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 dads 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 theyd ruin his voice. She just thought he had natural talent.
Has that connection influenced you at all?
Well, it didnt 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, Ive kind of had moments where I thought that was cool. You know, obviously, Ive 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 werent allowed to listen to Johnny Cash. We werent allowed to listen to anything secular. But as Ive gotten older, Ive explored his music and thought that connection was cool.
Logo calls your music moody dance-pop. Do you think thats fair?
Yeah, I do think so. My sound has changed a little bit over the years, obviously, as Ive grown and started working with other people. But I think my roots are still firmly planted in electro-pop. I think to say its moody is sort of an understatement. [Laughs.] I think its very moody. I dont think its dark. I find a connection with the rawness of what Im saying. I try not to hold back. A lot of times that comes off as immature [laughs], like Im 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 thats true. Ive 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, Im in communication with a lot of them back and forth. Ive 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 its 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. Youve got to kind of know your audience and figure out whats 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, Im not exactly sure what that means. [Laughs.] Its been around for a few years. I think before I needed some kind of quick one-liner thing to get peoples 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 thats changed a little bit as my music has become a little less disco. And maybe its less about discomfort and more about trying to find the light or whatever. The material, lyrically, is kind of heavy at times, and its sort of this spoonful of sugar idea, where the music itself doesnt necessarily sound as heavy as the lyrics. So together it makes it so the listener can process it, and its 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 didnt personally do that. This new record is all about the ending of my relationship that Id 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 its something Ive 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 werent lining up. I take responsibility for half of that, for sure. I did make things extra complicated. When we got together, I wasnt doing this. So things change.
So are you available now?
Yeah, Im single. It feels weird. I havent been in the single world for so long, Im finding myself newly sober and newly single, and its equaling out to me being a little bit awkward. [Laughs.] Im trying to figure out how to do these basic things again. When I was single the first time around, I was so wasted that a lot of my experiences, whether thats sexually or trying to relate to people emotionally or even in my music... its all sort of brand new again. Its making me feel like Im just hitting puberty, but Im a 30-year-old man. Its interesting. Its a new world, for sure.
Have you found that being an out artist has limited your career at all?
I havent. I think Ive found the opposite of that. I came out when I was 14, so by the time this whole music thing started to happen, which was about 10 years ago, I had been out for so long, that was the only thing I knew how to be. There wasnt really an option of going back in. But I certainly dont think I marketed myself that way. I didnt market myself at all. I kind of just started making records to help my brain along. I would give them to my friends, and they slowly started kind of leaking out. By the time 2006 happened, and I had my MySpace page, I personally started marketing to gay people individually, just thinking well be similar. [Laughs.] I think feeling alone or different -- or those themes in my music -- resonate with the gay community in a way that was sort of immediate, just because I do write from that perspective. I do think the world has changed enough from the time when I decided I wanted to do this to the time when we started marketing it that its almost a selling point at this point. I grew up in Kansas and Nebraska, so I wouldnt have been able to imagine this in a pre-Will & Grace world. But things have changed enough now, where I think people are listening to the music for the most part, and not even thinking about that. Im glad that people in the gay community have responded to me like they have, and Im totally into it. It has made me feel less alone and more a part of the community, to have people in the community and outside of it respond to what Im doing. Its been cool.
How much did it suck having the flu recently?
It sucked bad. Ive never been sick like that. I never get sick. Im not sure exactly what happened. My brother had a baby a couple years ago, and I love her to death and was hanging out with her. I believe she may have given me whatever she got from the hundred other kids shes been sticking her finger in the mouth of. It was gross, but I was holed up long enough to sit here and think about things. I was turning 32, and I was thinking, oh my God. Theres something about the flu that lends itself to minor depression. I did lose some weight though! I looked good for my New York trip.
Speaking of New York, while you were at the CMJ festival in October you Tweeted that you were going to see Jeffree Stars set, but he didnt end up playing. You called it pretty lame. Is there a feud brewing there?
[Laughs.] I hope not. Id be afraid to be in a feud with that guy. No, actually I like him, thats why I went. I think thats a pretty bummer thing to do. It mostly reminded me of how I was a couple years ago -- something I could have pulled. The CMJ promoters were not very pleased, but it didnt really affect me. I went there in a Town Car, and then I took my Town Car back.
Lastly, Lady Gaga: Overexposed or overtly fabulous?
[Laughs.] I like Lady Gaga. I dont know, you might be asking the wrong person. Im thinking overexposure is in the eye of the beholder. If thats what youre going for, which I think is part of the whole deal with her, it seems to be working. I think if youre exposing yourself in a way that youre comfortable with, then thats really your authentic self.
Logan Lynns new album, From Pillar to Post is available at www.loganlynnmusic.com and in stores now.