photo courtesy Zoe Prinds-Flash
Lydia Hoglund (Lydia Liza) first garnered attention in the Minneapolis music scene as the spirited and confessional vocalist of folk/rock outfit Bomba de Luz. And now–with a solo career in hot pursuit as well as collaborations with Rhymesayers artists like P.O.S. and Toki Wright–the girl simply can’t be stopped. Her beautiful, textured voice seemed a natural fit to perform the songs of Dusty Springfield at the Girl Germs Kickoff and, to our extreme pleasure, Lydia agreed to take it on without possessing much prior knowledge of Dusty beforehand. As it turns out, the process of discovery was both empowering and cathartic. We spoke with Lydia about it:
When did you first hear Dusty Springfield’s music?
It’s funny, I actually had almost forgotten who Dusty was, which is pretty much sacrilege. When you guys sent me the list of vocalists you thought I would do justice, I remembered her name and looked her up again. All of these songs that I had forgotten the names of came flooding back to me. They were always songs I had just heard in passing like,“You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me.” I never really listened to her much as a child and honestly, I didn’t really appreciate her type of music until much more recently. I was more of a Fall Out Boy-bordering-on-Warped-Tour-kid for a long time. So my interaction was pretty much while I was preparing for this show. But Dusty came around at the perfect time for me, after one of those notoriously awful breakups. It’s always incredible to find that music that makes you realize: “Oh shit. There are other people in the world that completely relate to these feelings.” So it’s been extremely therapeutic.
Do you think her sentiments translate to the modern era?:
Oh god absolutely! Love and life are two eternal things, with a lot of varied sentiments that run constant throughout both. I think sentiments from most music in general–in all eras–run constant through the modern one. Except maybe the death-metal band Cannibal Corpse saying they want to “smash my head in with a mallet and watch my eyes fall out and defile my corpse”. I don’t know how many people feel like that. I like Dusty’s view on life quite a bit more.
Dusty had a lot of heartbreak in her life. Not only struggles with cancer and substance abuse but also with hiding her homosexuality to maintain an image that was much more accepted in the era. Have her sad experiences revealed themselves to you in any way while learning her songs? How do you relate?:
I’ve always thought that being a singer is one of the most exposing things you can do. And man, it wasn’t just her singing voice, that emotive voice, full of that husk, urgency, experience and wisdom, it was her lyrics, too. You can completely hear her pain, while still being a pop star. Kinda like “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus, which is such a stupid comparison and I regret that. People’ve always said:“C’mon Lyds, don’t you have a single happy song?” Truth be told, running through my own catalogue and I don’t think I do. I’m alright with that. I’m more than alright with that. I don’t write my songs to get people to dance, or to get people to run around in the sunshine. I write for myself. I write as expression, to tell my own story to myself, to run through thoughts and to organize myself. I don’t mind. I know it’ll change, but it started out as songs in my bedroom when I was a pre-pubescent, hormonal teenager, and not much has really changed: still a pre-pubescent, hormonal teenager. SYKE! I just do it the same as I’ve always done. But a lot is changing in my life, and my music will change with me. But I’m sure I’ll still write about heartbreaks and headaches.
How do you think she’s influenced women in music today?:
I’m not sure how she’s influenced many women, but I know how she’s influenced me. Dusty was an extremely strong woman: beautiful, fashionable (except sometimes she looked like she didn’t have eyes from all that eye makeup) and femme. I think she’s just one of those perfect role models. She should continue to be a role model. More people should know about her and her bravery. She was set apart from her contemporaries and not afraid to be different and to try all of these different genres and styles. She seemed so comfortable with herself, but from the previous question it sounded like she was also really depressed. Still, she created music with it. She wasn’t afraid to sound so urgent and soulful and heartbroken. That’s brave.
What have you learned in the process of teaching yourself this music?:
That I need to take guitar lessons, that Dusty is totally badass, that I’m not alone, that I wanna do my hair like her and that pain can turn into the most absolutely gorgeous art.
What’s your favorite Dusty song and why?:
“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” and I’m trying not to be too self indulgent here, is really applicable to my situations right now and questioning so much. I can confidently say that you could twist this song and just sing it to Life in general, like, how you have two awesome weeks and then some shit happens.
Is this a lasting treasure/Or just a moment’s pleasure?/Can I believe the magic of your sighs?/Will you still love me tomorrow?
That’s so valid, in every situation!!
I know you’re very interested in modern female artists like Laura Marling as well. Why do you think it’s important to listen to the old and the new?:
It’s important because you see how things have morphed. If you understand the old and look at how it influenced the new you can find patterns and trends (musically and lyrically) and then also find things that didn’t really follow through into modern-day music. Looking at it as a songwriter, it helps you discover things to try. Looking at it as a listener, you can find feelings that have been totally eternal. Looking at it as both, you can really understand the feelings of different times based on the sound of the music. It’s like how old jazz makes you want to be in an old bar in New York chain-smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey on the rocks, at least it makes me want to. And then how more modern stuff makes you want to twerk on walls sometimes. I appreciate the former much more and Laura Marling embodies it really comfortably and well, like she’s still stuck there. I hope that made sense.