Words by David C. Obenour
A veteran of the Philadelphia DIY scene, Lexi Campion lived up to those values for Low – her latest release as Grayling for 6131 Records. Performing live as a full band, Campion performed all of the instruments and vocals on her latest EP.
Recorded by Kevin Bernsten [Wildhoney, Praise, Full of Hell] and mastered by Sarah Register [Big Thief, Julien Baker, U.S. Girls], the five songs showcase a fuzzed out sound that’s equally inspired by rock’s rawness and pop’s sensibilities.
Off Shelf: You performed all of the instruments yourself on Low, which I have to imagine leads for a lot of living inside your own head. How do you feel about how it all came out?
Grayling: I’m really happy with how the record turned out. Working with Kevin was great and he definitely helped me get out of my head and see things more objectively in the studio as well.
OS: Do you feel you were more of a perfectionist than you would have been if it was another player performing?
G: Absolutely. I don’t think I’m unique in being harder on and more critical of myself than others. That said though, I take pride in what I do and would want to be as satisfied with the result regardless of who was performing.
OS: Do you perform live with a consistent backing band? I’m curious about how that would or wouldn’t play into your decision to do Low on your on.
G: I do play with a consistent backing band. My band is wonderful and understands that Grayling is a solo project in the studio. Grayling has always operated in that way and everyone that has played in the live band has been great about understanding that.
OS: You’ve recorded with other performers before, both as Grayling and in your time with Edelweiss. How did this time compare? Is there anything you’ve learned or are taking with you from it?
G: This time around was super hard on my body. When I was in Edelweiss, I was just the drummer, so my parts were pretty much recorded in a day’s time. The first Grayling record was recorded over a series of weekends. For Low I recorded everything over a few consecutive days, so that was a new experience for me. It was exhausting and I was physically sore and incredibly tired by the end of it. I didn’t realize how much the process would take out of me until I was experiencing it.
OS: Two years is a long time in the life of a young band, how do you compare Low to Everything that Burns?
G: I think Low is more straightforward. All of the writing I did between records really helped me to settle into the sound that I had been striving to achieve since the beginning. I think you can even hear that progression on Low itself. Both “Roses” and “Blue” are older songs, whereas “Chalk Dust”, “Cursed”, and “Slow” were written much more recently. I think you can definitely hear the differences between those groups of songs, and the way my songwriting has evolved since beginning the writing process for Low.
OS: Both releases so far have been EPs, what do you enjoy about that format? Do you still see the value in such distinctions as more and more people consume music digitally?
G: Personally, I don’t put that much thought into format. I’d be happy to release more EPs, singles, a full length, etc. I feel like people focus more on songs than on bodies of work these days, so my focus is really just on writing good songs. The means of the consumption of those songs is really an afterthought for me. That said, I don’t think that the distinctions between LPs/EPs etc. carry as much weight in the digital age as they did when physical formats were the only means of consuming music.
OS: Looking back on an interview from that era, you mentioned bands like Bully and Pvris as inspirations for Grayling, but sited some of your own influences like Lady Gaga, Against Me!, Haim and others. Do you think those are still relevant to what you’re doing now? Do you still see the division between personal inspiration and those that you think of for the band?
G: I guess the line between personal inspiration/inspiration for the band has probably been blurred without my realizing it. I think that all of the music that I have spent a decent amount of time listening to will likely have an impact on my own music in one way or another. Bully is still my favorite band and I consciously draw a lot of inspiration from Alicia and her songwriting. I’ve loved Madonna since I was a kid though, and there’s no way for me to gauge whether she has had an impact on my songwriting. To be honest though, I listen to more podcasts and audiobooks than I do music these days.