Newly Independent, LANY is Exercising its Creative Autonomy

Indie pop-rock’s LANY has just wrapped up an appearance on the TODAY show in New York, a city that happens to make up one-half of their acronymic band name. On the segment, they delivered a live rendition of their woefully sappy single, “XXL.” Love, brokenheartedness, the highs and lows of relationships – these have been recurring motifs in LANY’s music since the band’s inception in Nashville nearly a decade ago. In 2017, the trio of Paul Jason Klein, Jake Goss and Les Priest found their first breakout hit in “ILYSB,” an acronym for “I love you so bad.”

Take a look through LANY’s discography, and it seems the band has cracked the algorithm for putting listeners in their feels, each song striking the perfect balance of anthemic melodies, poetic lyricism and sheer relatability for the lovesick listener. But despite centering itself on a few core themes, LANY has a tact for approaching a single subject from multiple angles. Consider a breakup, for instance – LANY has written the soundtrack for each passing stage, from the initial hurt and to the grief and gradual process of moving on, to reminiscing the good times, the latter of which fans can tune in to on tracks like “remember that.”

As the band readies to release its fifth LP, a beautiful blur, they’re still planning on singing about love, an apparent independent variable in their music, but a few other factors have changed since the last album. a beautiful blur will be the first full-length project they’ve put out since going independent, having fulfilled their contract with Universal’s Interscope Records upon dropping 2021’s gg bb xx LP. Amid the change of tides on the business side, a beautiful blur is also the first LANY album following the departure of keyboardist Priest, who had become less involved with the band over time and officially left last year to pursue a solo writing and production career.

In a new interview with HYPEBEAST, Klein and Goss delved into taking LANY independent, operating as a two-man band and why they find themselves making so many love songs.

Since the beginning, LANY has been so consistent with putting out new albums. a beautiful blur will mark your fifth LP in a seven-year span. What sparks the feeling that it’s time to put out another record?

Klein: Being in a band, there are three basic seasons: you go into the studio, you tour, you rest. That’s what we do. I’ve been reading this Rick Rubin book, The Creative Act, and he talks about how releasing your art makes way for more art. The second that you put something out, you’re an empty vessel to receive more ideas. Maybe because we’re always releasing stuff, we’re always energized to make more.

Does that cycle ever get tiring for you?

Klein: I like the pace of it, personally. Look at Taylor Swift. She put out three albums in the last three years. Authors write books. Artists make albums. The more you have in you, the more you should do it.

When you get to work on creating an album, do you have an overarching concept for the project in mind or are you starting from a few songs that you’ve already made ahead of time?

Klein: It all happens in real-time. I like to not have any rules and just let the art be what it is. All of our albums are a reflection of our personal experience. It’s us, it’s a snapshot of time in our lives, our reflection, our take on it.

Goss: It’s a fun adventure because sometimes that centering starts early in the process of making the record, or midway through or later. Finding the identity, the sound, the sonics of the record – when that all clicks, you’re like: there it is.

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Your keyboardist, Les Priest, left LANY last year and you made the decision not to replace him in the band. Has there been a shift in how you operate now as a duo instead of a trio?

Klein: To be super honest, it hasn’t changed at all. We support Les and everything that he does, and obviously, he has given us his blessing to continue on in this band. The first album, we made it just the three of us in a kitchen on a Dell computer. Les was kind of our engineer, less of a traditional keyboardist. Over the next few albums, we began working with people who were older and wiser, and we learned from them. Really, the only thing that has changed was who was behind the computer.

“Being independent allows us to make really quick, creative decisions and then act upon them almost immediately.”

Has going independent had a greater impact on the band and your working dynamic? How has that influenced a beautiful blur?

Klein: By the time we signed our deal with Universal, we had already established who we were as a band and already had somewhat of a fanbase that was very loyal and dedicated. I always viewed the label as a bank, where they would loan us money to make our music videos and our albums and we would then pay them back through revenue streams. Universal was really awesome. When it was time to resign with them, we decided we wanted to be wholly independent.

Any ideas that we have in the past, we’d have to run them by X amount of people in an office, like a big ship that takes a long time to turn. For instance, our album title was I Really, Really Hope So and now it’s called a beautiful blur. I would have probably dealt with a lot more sh*t when I brought that idea to the table if we’re at a label than I did when I just brought it to the table with Jake and our manager. They’re like, ‘okay, well, then how do we switch it?’ Being independent allows us to make really quick, creative decisions and then act upon them almost immediately. Everything is very in-house for us. It’s cool because no one cares more about this band than us.

Goss: It feels like sometimes we’d have to go like 20 miles an hour within the 50-mile-an-hour speed limit. And now we can go at like … 150 miles per hour.

The truth is, people love songs about love … There is so much nuance to relationships that I could genuinely spend the rest of my life writing about them.”

Being able to create on your own terms, even when signed to a major label, is also conducive to being able to put out so much music in the first place. After giving a beautiful blur a spin, I’m interested in hearing about – in terms of the new album and past releases – how you’re able to squeeze out so many unique songs about love and relationships without exhausting the subject.

Klein: We have some amazing songs outside of that – “I Still Talk to Jesus, “This is the Last Time,” “Home is Where the Hurt Is.” But the truth is, people love songs about love. So do I. There is so much nuance to relationships that I could genuinely spend the rest of my life writing about them. And I plan to continue to do that. It’s so interesting and so universal – I’ve never been in two of the same relationships. There’s just so much to those experiences to explore.

Goss: If you open up your heart, those angles are always going to be endless. I was even thinking the other day that it’s crazy to consider even the circumference of our faces. Eyes, nose, and mouth. I can’t believe every single person looks different in this small amount of space. And I just felt like that with songs and life. It’s always going to be endless if you have your eyes open.

LANY’s fifth studio album a beautiful blur is out for streaming on Friday, September 29.
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