The album, track by track with Kylee
Tour stories from San Francisco based indie-pop group Loquat sound a lot more like a haphazard family vacation with a tight budget than a trip to perform in cities around the U.S.
“We crash in the crappiest places and eat the crappiest food,” admits vocalist Kylee Swenson, an editor at Remix Magazine by day who scrapes together her vacation days to take to the road.
She affectionately refers to one of the digs of choice as “The Crime Scene Inn” for its seedy demeanor. The group has a roadie to help lug the gear – also known as a friend who won’t demand a high wage or complain much.
And to get from point A to point B, they class it up with a 15-seater van, where Swenson’s bandmates take turns sleeping so their equipment doesn’t get targeted by thugs.
Swenson skirts that duty, being the lone woman on board, but that’s about the extent of the kid glove treatment. “I’ve learned to thicken my skin a bit. These guys are tough on me,” she says.
Even the band’s sound has toughened up in recent years, since the release of their first full-length studio album in 2005, “It’s Yours to Keep.” That’s due in part to the two turbulent years that preceded their sophomore effort,”Secrets of the Sea,” released this fall on Talking House Records. The result is a bit of a biting undertone, without straying too far from the qualities that made their earlier music work, a mix of harmonies, electronically enhanced beats, and the tambour of Swenson’s Chrissie Hynde-esque vocals.
“My way of dealing with a lot of things is to basically write a song,” she says, which is how subject matters including the mortality of friends and loved ones snuck their way into so many of the band’s latest songs.
Swenson penned “In My Sleep” after the death of a longtime friend from a heroin overdose, when she kept encountering a presence in her kitchen. Swenson’s mother is a conduit for ghosts, she says, and it utterly unafraid of the supernatural. But Swenson didn’t feel she was up to the task. “I can’t handle it,” she says. “I can talk to you in my sleep.”
In the same way, “Sit Sideways” is a musical memorial to the father of a friend who recently passed away. “How do you console a friend when it’s, like, a parent?” The solution: rent two houseboats and party for three days straight. “My mom was not thrilled with that,” Swenson says. “Sometimes you need a distraction of some kind.”
But then she pauses. “I don’t want to lump myself in as “ËœLoquat is the band that talks about dead people'” she laughs.
Swenson grew up in Orno, Minnesota, but the harsh climate took its toll. “I’d taken one too many insane winters scraping the shit out of the windshield,” she says, and even had to serve some detention for being late on account of the weather. So after graduation she headed for Santa Clara University, an hour south of San Francisco, to major in English and German.
Swenson spent three months post-college living in Germany and working as a maid. “While it was pretty crappy, it was insanely fun,” she says, with plenty of time to bike, play tennis, and party all night between changing dirty sheets and cleaning up after strangers.
Now she calls San Francisco home.