Words by David C. Obenour
More now then ever before, music can connect us.
As fans, we typically default to seeing the “us” we’re in as similar to who we identify as – whether in terms of fashion, geography, age, race, sex or any number of other factors. And while that perceived norm may be prominent, our world continues to grow smaller and smaller – making these factors less and less defining. A punk band from Oakland is playing from a boombox in Mumbai. A metal band from Tehran is streaming on a computer in Stockholm. Each one is informed by who made it and where they are from, but the connections they make are more far-reaching now than ever before.
Lindy Vision is an interesting example given the cultural bridges they make while remaining faithful to their heritage, and even more deeply, remaining true to their family and themselves. Inspired by New York’s 2000s no-wave scene, the trio of sisters bring their Native and African American background and family up-bringing to create something familiar but unique to fans of the genre.
Off Shelf: Before starting, I just want to say I hope that you and yours are doing okay during these times. How have you been holding up?
Lindy Vision: Thank you for asking. The three of us and our families are doing good. Right now, Lindy Vision is focusing on staying grounded and working on our spirituality. It’s important for us not to feed into the climate of fear and anxiety.
OS: In interviews I’ve read, you all seem to have a strong bond both through family and music. Are you all still seeing and staying in touch with each other?
LV: Yes, we are. We’re fortunate that our band is a family and that all three of us have chosen to reside together in Albuquerque, NM, which allows us to continue to stay connected and see each other during this difficult time of physical distancing.
OS: Can you talk about experience with music growing up? Both in terms of what you were exposed to and what music or art helped inspire you to create?
LV: We grew up in the 80’s and music was just a natural, everyday thing in our household. It wasn’t uncommon for our parents to put on a Madonna or a Michael Jackson album during the week and have a dance party. When our father was younger, he wanted to be an MC so we have early memories of him rapping to Grand Master Flash and Afrika Bambaataa around the house. Our mom listened to mostly country music like Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn, Alan Jackson, but she also listened to female artists like Pat Benatar and Diana Ross. Our dad listened to predominately Motown and soul music.
It wasn’t until the three of us were older around our teen years that we started to gravitate towards genres of music that hadn’t necessarily been introduced to us by our parents, and it was this time of music discovery that would come to inspire our first few albums. We grew up around the time that the post-punk scene was really taking off in New York with bands like The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Interpol. The music being created around that time really set the stage for our musical influences and it is what ultimately inspired us to want to make music. We were also really inspired by the indie music scene that came out of Canada around that time with bands like Broken Social Scene, Metric, and Wolf Parade. We started with the bands from these scenes, but eventually we discovered the bands that came before them like the Pixies, Velvet Underground, and Joy Division.
OS: How do you see Adult Children Part II as similar and different to Part I?
LV: Well, both Part I and Part II are similar because the tracks from both parts were written and recorded around the same time. We wrote all 12 tracks, which would eventually be divided into 6 tracks spread across two EP’s, over the course of about 6 months. During that time, all three of us were going through different life experiences that would come to influence the whole project, both Part I and Part II. The biggest difference between Part I and Part II are the mood and overall vibe. Part I is more upbeat with a more in-your-face attitude, while Part II is more moody and mellow and delves deeper into our shared feelings of angst and frustration. Both albums form a complete thought together but both can also stand alone with regards to the emotional content.
OS: Is this the end of the Adult Children series?
LV: That’s an interesting question. All of our albums capture moments in our lives. Adult Children, Part I and Part II, is a reflection of our shared healing as adults and our realization that collectively, we suffered a traumatic childhood experience. All three of us experienced periods of feeling isolated and depressed growing up. We were living with this secret that our parents drank and we had a lot of shame and confusion around their alcohol use and how it affected us emotionally. As adults, we found Janet Woetitz book Adult Children of Alcoholics extremely valuable and liberating. That book was the missing link in our shared emotional experience as sisters and band mates. So, now that we’ve explored this theme for the first time in our lives, we are ready for the next chapter of freedom that will allow us to grow as artists and explore our human experience through our art. We are excited for the next Lindy Vision series, whatever that looks like.
OS: What do you prefer about EPs as opposed to full lengths?
LV: We’ve found that EPs are a little bit easier for a listener to digest. It seems like the longer something is, whether its a full length album or a three hour film, the greater chance you have of losing your audience. People get bored or they miss the point or they simply don’t care to follow you as an artist on whatever journey you’re taking them. With an EP, you have a shorter amount of time to deliver your message so you are forced to be more deliberate with the tracks you choose to go on the EP and how they are ordered. There are no filler tracks and every song has a purpose and its own message. From this standpoint, Lindy Vision has always been very strategic about what we deliver and how we deliver it. The goal is to leave our audience wanting more. Listening to music or experiencing any art form is also an investment of time. Not everyone is willing to invest hours of their time to listen to a full-length album from start to finish, so an EP that runs around thirty minutes may seem more reasonable. That being said, a full length album done well from start to finish is certainly admirable and something we still aspire to create.
OS: Can you talk a little about your fashion aesthetic and how you present yourself in Lindy Vision’s imagery?
LV: Lindy Vision’s imagery has evolved over the years. But basically you’re witnessing 3 independent women who love fashion, colors, and bold statements. We’ve always used our attire to express ourselves. We grew up with very little money so our wardrobes were limited and we worked with what we had at the time. We shared a lot of our clothes. As young women, we were always hyper-aware that our looks were more heavily scrutinized than our male counterparts. Today we have chosen to heal from that experience by choosing to really celebrate our bodies and have fun with it. We look to artists like Marc Bolan, David Bowie, and Tina Turner for artistic aesthetic inspiration. There is something liberating about dressing to your mood and wearing beautiful regalia that celebrates who you are. We’ve found that being ourselves and expressing ourselves in this way really enhances the experience our audience receives at a live show. It’s special and sacred for us.
OS: In a previous interview you talked about how you’re now at a place where you can honor your Native and African American heritage in a way that is respectful, and not exploitative. Can you talk more about that evolution?
LV: That’s a big question and it’s something we get asked about a lot. To understand the evolution, you’d have to understand where we started and the complexities of growing up biracial. We identify as Native American and African American. We grew up in Southern New Mexico, in a predominantly Caucasian and Hispanic community. There were few, if any, Native American or African American people in our community, not to mention people who were bi or multiracial. So there was always this sense that we looked different from the majority of our peers and that we didn’t quite fit in or belong. Even when we were among other Native American or African American people, we would hear that we weren’t “Native” enough or we weren’t “Black” enough because we were not fully one race or the other.
It’s difficult, because as an artist, you look for ways to express who you are and where you come from and then how to communicate that in a way that others will understand. And if you don’t have a firm sense of that, then you don’t know where to begin or who or what you are representing. In many ways, we have used our music and our art to find ourselves, which has led to a deeper connection with our Native and African roots. It was through music that we finally felt like we could be ourselves. Art is liberating in that way. We are authentically ourselves in our music and our art, and, to us, that means honoring our biracial and cultural background. It’s a natural expression, and we have found beauty and empowerment in being able to connect with who we are as biracial people. It has taken years of growing up and it has been an evolution of sorts, but we’re at a place now where we don’t feel like those three little girls who don’t belong or who are too different to be understood. Instead, we are three people who have found our voices and we are not afraid to be ourselves. To us, it has never been something ugly or exploitative. It’s always been a journey of self-discovery and finding connection.within ourselves and with others in a world where that’s sometimes hard to do.
As you begin to create art, people tend to use the superficiality of how you may physically appear to label you and categorize you in order to understand you and your art. So naturally because we are biracial, we have found that people are curious to know what kind of sound that combination is going to create. People might assume we are going to sound like a hip hop artist or even traditional Native American music. And, we probably don’t really sound like either of those genres. Being African American and Native American females in this industry allows us to represent our identities on this public platform in an industry that is not predominantly comprised of people of color.
OS: Why is it important for you personally to convey your heritage in your art?
LV: It’s important because if you look at our history, we come from a lineage of people who had to fight just to exist. We are fortunate as artists to be able to celebrate who we are on a public platform. It wasn’t too long ago that we would’ve been persecuted for wearing moccasins or told that our natural hair needed to be relaxed in order for us to conform to society’s standards of beauty. We don’t take anything for granted. We know that our ancestors who came before us, fought, struggled, and died to make it possible for us to live the life that we live today. However small our impact may be, we we will continue to carry forth our message of resilience.
OS: Are there any ways in particular you were able to honor or express your heritage on Adult Children Part II? As an outsider, the refrain from “Wasted” comes to mind as an example – can you talk about some of the meaning behind that too that we might not be able to appreciate outside of the cultural understanding?
LV: That’s a great example. “Wasted” is a song about breaking the cycle of addiction and overcoming environmental limitations that you might believe you have in life because of circumstances outside of your control. If you study addiction and or alcoholism, you will learn that it’s a disease that affects the whole family and the victims themselves can become enablers to the addicted individual and in some ways they can normalize an addicted person’s behaviors.
For us, we found ourselves consistently in unhealthy relationships with people who were substance abusers. As adult children of alcoholics, we realized this was probably because this was safe for us and familiar to us. The lyrics in the song explore a conversation between us and a loved one who is suffering from addiction and saying there’s more to life than this and you’re better than this.
We used the Native inspired chanting at the end because of the use of song in both our black and Native cultures as a means of restoring hope or offering prayer. The chant was actually inspired from a sweat lodge song that Dorothy learned during some of her traditional healing therapy through a local health clinic in Albuquerque. In our culture, music has traditionally been used to heal and offer hope, especially during times of great suffering.