Fielded's Ninety Thirty Thirty caught our attention last year for its post-apocalyptic drama merged with synth drones and art pop. The solo project of Lindsay Powell, Fielded gave us a modern singer-songwriter in the vein of Kate Bush, without the debutante behavior often treated as a requisite for pop tableau.
Powell is following up Ninety Thirty Thirty with Universally Handsome, a somewhat companion EP that displays her growing self-assuredness in songwriting and vocals. Previous tracks like “Arms of Heaven” gave Powell a commanding presence through vocal layering and affects, but on “City of the Dazed” she's a force through her vulnerability. She does not come to us as a conquerer in song, but as a battered vagabond seeking the familiarity of people who know her name. The location of Powell's “City of the Dazed”, is never clear, but what rings true is that her call to arms is as much about helping her as it is about the dazed being the dazed no longer and reclaiming a waking life.
First of all, I'm incredibly excited about your next record based on the title alone. Tell me about Universally Handsome. Is there a story or a theme woven in the the record that can be traced to the title?
Powell:Universally Handsome is actually an EP follow-up to the full-length Ninety Thirty Thirty. It's six songs that have been floating around my live set and in the studio for a little while. I was having a hard time making the songs come together while I was living in Los Angeles and it took moving from there to Nashville to really get my mind buzzing on them again. I was listening to a lot of country and seeing a lot of live music that I don't naturally gravitate towards and I found it all very stimulating and otherworldly. I also felt like a bit of an outsider there which made it easy to really live inside of these strange stories that I then developed into lyrics for the tracks I'd been toying with. Universally Handsome is also a clothing line I've been working on, not to mention a phrase my girlfriends and I throw around from time to time to describe someone who really knocks your socks off, you know?
The first single “City of the Dazed” seems to maintain your post-apocalyptic pop vibe from the debut. If you were to discuss the place in the track you call home, aka City of the Dazed, what sort of demographics, economy, and topography would be there?
Unbelievable sunsets. Hills beyond hills. Classic cars, pastels. Radios blaring, ripe fruit. Fresh Roses, butterflies. Snakes. The Birds and the Bees. Warm summer nights, slow days. Unhinged Desire. War of the Classes. Heaven and Hell. Temptation, Betrayal, Redemption. Departure by Sea.
On Ninety Thirty Thirty, you gave your compositions to collaborators to fill out the sound. Did this record undergo a similar process? Who did you work with on Universally Handsome?
On this EP I focused a lot more on splicing and modifying live instrumentation than I did on creating it. I messed around with my own voice and old songs I never ended up finishing. My friend David Lackner (who played sax/synth/EWI/flute on Ninety Thirty Thirty) worked on some of the synths for “City of the Dazed” as well as others and a new friend Aaron Dugan played bass on a few songs. The songs range from dense and dramatic to spacious and honest – i wanted to mess around with a few different production styles on this release.
Ninety Thirty Thirty was done in your childhood-home studio in NJ. Where did you record Universally Handsome and how did that alter your process/songwriting?
I've been recording it in bits and pieces across the country, really. It's the first time I've ever done that – both Terrageist and Ninety Thirty Thirty were recorded in my childhood home. I am happy to say that most of this record was conceptualized in L.A., refined in Nashville and birthed in Brooklyn, NY. I definitely felt a freedom with this one that I haven't experienced in the past. I felt very light, like I was allowed to be playful and have fun not only in the recording process but with the songwriting and performance, as well. Even in having a more upbeat quality and light-hearted feel they remain the most honest of all the Fielded songs thus far; honesty in my songwriting used to scare me but I think I am starting to feel safe in it somehow. I find it sensual, mysterious and healing.
You've also taken residence in Brooklyn. Do you feel any changes in your music from moving across a few islands and bridges?
I am still so new! It's hard to say. I also moved in the winter months and have been working a ton so it's difficult to be open to this incredibly dense city when I am constantly bracing myself against the cold, folding my arms in over my heart. I can say that before I moved I was pretty focused. I feel like I've been in a real steady zone for a while, writing songs that all sort of link up with one another. This isn't to say I'm not open to my heart changing and my latitude and longitude seducing certain chord progressions and frequencies. I am all for it. I always welcome new sounds and visions to haunt my writing. I can't wait until Spring and Summer in NYC. It will be a cleansing, a blessing from beyond.