Couples in love. Couples who make music, in love. Oh love. Sigh. Meet Jordan Lane Price, an actress whose first passion was actually music, and James Levy—one third of Lolawolf, alongside Jimmy and Zoë Kravitz, and the frontman of Reputante—have turned their love into music. (Or did the music forge a romance?) Below is the premiere of their first song together, "Sponge"—a tune resplendent in beats to march to and Lane Price's honeyed tones layered and lightly reverbed. It's pretty but scuzzy too, with an intro synth line perfect for whistling while you walk down the city streets hours later. A little taster of what's to come from her forthcoming five-song EP, out on 6.30 via Innit Recordings. We talked to the couple to find out how this all came about: their story and the story behind the songs.
Noisey: Jordan, you're a well established actress, is this your first foray into music and if so what was the impetus?
Jordan Lane Price: Well I actually started out as a singer, doing musical theater when I was about eight years old, which eventually led me to start working in professional theater and different music projects as a kid and teenager. However, I ended up studying philosophy in college and simultaneously falling in love with acting. I've always said if music came back to me and it felt right, I wouldn't say no to it. And then Levy came along.
Tell me about your origin story so I can feel optimistic about life.
Jordan: I was actually given James' number by a mutual friend who thought he'd be a good fit musically. We had planned to meet up one day and he ended up never texting me back. Two nights later, I went to a bar I hadn't been to before to meet a friend- I showed up early and no one was in the bar except Levy and Jon Wiley. We both looked at each other funny and I said "You're the dude who never text me back." Fast forward a month and we got matching tattoos on St. Marks that represented our fortuitous friendship, making art together, and the beauty of that May. It was a beautiful experience, recording and interpreting songs written by the person you are falling in love with. Interview continues below.
OK, I feel much better having heard this story. James you intially wrote these songs when you first moved to NYC in the early 2000s. Did they ever see the light of day with you singing them?
I was 21 or 22 when I wrote these. I wrote them with the idea of having a band back them up—all the songs I had up to that point were just naive and innocent without the thought of arrangement. I kind of miss that feeling, I try every day to get back to that. I was recording with a friend and I think he was annoyed at my folky singing. He played me Scott Walker, and told me to sing like that, so I did. It never felt right to record with a band outside of demos, I never had the band, or the time never seemed right to play them, they always sounded like girl group songs to me anyway.
Where was your head at when you wrote those songs versus where you are now ?
James: I think I was more naive then, at least I hope so. I had more of an image of myself as a young crooner, probably because I was young and trying to write old timey croony songs. Now my image of myself is a not so young kind of singer, where unfortunately l think of the past to much, its a struggle to change that. Jordan, what attracted to these songs? like how did it come about that you ended up listening to them and deciding to record them? Did they need much reworking and adapting?
Jordan: At first we had planned to co-write songs together (which we are actually in the process of doing now), but last summer we didn't really know the sound or vibe we wanted to achieve, so we just started recording some songs he had already written. He didn't really let me do more than one or two takes on anything—he actually lied and said we would use them as scratch vocals. In hindsight, I think the rawness and vulnerability of those takes actually benefit the songs. I was attracted to the songs melodically, but also thematically—in a funny way I can relate to the lyrics more than Levy can now. Being eight years younger, I can sort of feel them in a way he might have at my age, but doesn't now. In terms of reworking, we had recorded maybe six songs, but once we recorded "These Days," we both knew that was the vibe we wanted: something dirty and poppy, so it was easy to rework the rest of the songs from that starting point.
Regarding "Sponge" specifically, what's the story behind that song?
James: I think I wrote it about a good friend of mine at the time, he is still mostly a good friend. I remember being angry at him for some reason, like some teenage angst thing. I thought he envied me and was sponging off of me. I am sure it was all in my head.
What's the plan from here? Is this going to move to the stage?
Jordan: Maybe, maybe not… We are just sort of going with the flow.