[OK] Jan 2012 - Vol 9, No 1
TULSA, Okla. - The question…does gender shape talent? We all know better, but there are always the stereotypes. However, judging from the packed venue at The Colony recently, I would say that it is less and less a problem for an all-girl band to receive the kudos they deserve than it has been in the past. Sure, female solo vocalists don’t do badly at all. Yet sometimes an all-female band is looked upon differently, even now. However, we always have the talent to prove that to be a senseless bias…and the incarnation of the Low Litas are a great example of art in its true form.
Mandii Larsen, lead vocals and guitar for the Low Litas, addresses that very question.
“I’m not sure…[about the stereotype of all girl bands]. I feel initially people have their stereotypes about female musicians just like they have them for anything else. If we prove those stereotypes wrong by the end of our set, great.”
Low Litas include Liz Wattoff on drums and Erin O’Dowd on bass. Already friends, the connection between the three musically has continued to grow and the harmony between the three is apparent not only in the recordings but also in the live shows.
Like many artists, Larsen got started at an early age.
“I was 12 when I got an acoustic guitar,” says Larsen. “I had been begging for one and finally got one for Christmas. Just one of those things I just HAD to have. Ended up teaching myself and loving it and haven’t put it down since.”
Emerging as an artist can be very private, and knowing when to put yourself out there can be a tough decision.
“As I was teaching myself guitar, I had just been writing songs on my acoustic guitar and not really showing them to very many people. Just a few close friends. I just kept that going for several years. Finally a friend of mine, Aaron Hamby (Callupsie), suggested I play out. I played as Low Litas but as a solo act for a bit. In the meantime, Hamby showed up at my door with his computer and a condenser mic ready to produce and engineer an EP for me and pushed me to record. That EP was recorded in 2008.”
At a recent show, the Low Litas performed their new song, “Holidaze,” a track off The 2011 Nice People Holiday Companion (By Nice People) compilation album. It was put together and recorded in record time, and highlights Larsen’s smoky, yet sweet vocals…vocals that she is surprisingly modest about. Queried about whether or not she had ever had any professional vocal training, Larsen replied:
“No…I don’t really even consider myself a singer. I am much more comfortable with calling myself a guitarist.”
Musical influences and life experiences are typically the largest factors in shaping an artist’s music and lyrics. Low Litas’ sound definitely shows a blend of eclectic tastes in music, while at the same time putting forth their own original sound.
“My [musical] influences include the Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine, Pixies. Those are the pretty steady ones. As I explore and listen to different music, I feel like my influences change along with what I’m digging into at the time,” Larsen states.
“As far as any particular life experiences, there are not really any specifically. Being one who uses music as a tool to deal with experiences and express myself, there is a broad range of experiences that shape my lyrics. But to generalize, the usual things, love, loss, choices made good or bad, just life, existence.”
One of the greatest challenges a band can face is being with the right people in the first place, and continuing to share the same vision and decisions on musical output, live shows and future plans. Larsen was fortunate in that she was already friends with band mates Wattoff and O’Dowd; she had already heard Wattoff play drums in her previous band, Callupsie, and was happy to have her join. So far, the already established connection between the three musicians has continued to grow.
So far the some of the notable venues the band has performed at include The Colony, Soundpony and Fassler Hall…these are the “regular” venues for the band, and no doubt there will be more to add to the list in the future.
“On February 18 we are playing a show with Samantha Crain and Broncho, although nothing else booked for sure as of yet right now. I’m sure we will be playing sometime next month somewhere,” says Larsen. “We plan on recording current material within the next six months. We are currently writing new material and we update shows and info online regularly via Facebook, Twitter, (bandcamp, soon). And soon the 2008 solo EP will be available for download (via Bandcamp.com) so look out for that and also upcoming shows.”
In the meantime, you can catch video recordings of the Low Litas on YouTube. The site features the songs “So Sure” and “Closer” and gives the listener a taste of the live show.