Premiere: Spencer LaJoye Shares New Single “How Are You” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Premiere: Spencer LaJoye Shares New Single “How Are You”

Debut Album Shadow Puppets Out February 16th

Jan 11, 2024 Photography by Daley Hake Bookmark and Share

Next month, indie singer/songwriter Spencer LaJoye is set to return with their new full-length album, Shadow Puppets. Though the record is technically billed as their debut, they have been writing and touring their diaristic style of indie folk for over a decade. However, a moment of reinvention came with them coming out as non-binary and recording for the first time as Spencer LaJoye. LaJoye debuted in 2021 with their EP, Remember the Oxygen, and followed last year with their second EP, Plant a Piano.

Through each of these records, LaJoye projects a shining authentic core, with the music itself representing a map of LaJoye’s path to their present moment. They describe their latest effort as “ by a queer, former Christian theater kid who learned to play the guitar and piano on high school worship teams. So, think indie bedroom folk meets ‘Dear Evan Hanson’ meets that moment in Hillsong choruses when all the guitars drop out to expose audience vocals and Phil Collins drums.”

Following the release of the title track and lead single last year, LaJoye is back today with another new track, “How Are You,” premiering with Under the Radar.

With “How Are You” LaJoye shows a penchant for finding heartfelt beauty in life’s smallest moments, painting vignettes full of both pastoral simplicity and weighty resonance. The track is a gentle and meditatively paced effort, guided by spectral keys, solitary strums of guitar, and atmospheric production, alongside a theatrical string section which joins halfway through. Meanwhile, LaJoye’s vocals float gently in the mix, exploring domestic moments when bad habits and unhealthy inherited behaviors come out. “I cared when I asked / I didn’t hear the thing you answered back / Sorry I do that / Genetically I think I move too fast,” LaJoye sings. Ultimately, it is a song about the moments when you realize you are becoming just like your parents, both for better and for worse.

Check out the track below, along with an introductory Q&A with LaJoye on the song and album. Shadow Puppets is out everywhere on February 16th.

What is the story behind this song? What prompted you to write it?

My parents have six grown kids’ worth of childhood-filled boxes in their basement storage room. And they’re always trying to get rid of them. It feels like every year of my adulthood since leaving that house, I’ve gotten a text from my mom around the holidays to the extent of, “Can you make some time while you’re here to go through your boxes in the basement?” I’ve never understood how that work is never done. There are always more boxes, always more past to go through. When I notice certain mannerisms and habits in myself that I’ve inherited from my parents - mannerisms and habits I can never really shed completely, no matter how much I unpack them - I think about those basement boxes. This song was written after a particularly obvious moment when I recognized my mother in myself.

How did the song come together, both musically and lyrically?

This was a really easy one to write. The song came together pretty painlessly, and it flows conversationally. I didn’t want to overwork the awkward or clunky lyrics, like “How do you like your scrambled eggs and crepes?” or “It’s a meatloaf day, does anyone have something new to say?” With the exception of the chorus - which was so pleasant for me to stumble upon - a lot of the song feels so unremarkable to sing, and that monotony is sort of the point. I like how both the music and lyrics have that everyday quality to them, so I left it pretty unedited. Most of the sparkle in this one came in the production process.

What is this song’s message? What do you hope it conveys?

Someone once asked me, in response to hearing this song, “What do you do with the fact that we become our parents?” I appreciated the invitation to not only notice, but heal in some way. I wasn’t sure how to answer my friend, though. I know I want to honor my inherited behaviors that are healthy and vibrant, laugh at the things that are benign… but it’s a lot more complicated when it comes to those things that are inhibiting or destructive. This song doesn’t do that work for anyone, but it’s a good companion, I think. I hope it helps listeners feel less alone in this universal human experience of coming to terms with our generational patterns and baggage. We’re all doing so much work and unpacking so many boxes under the surface while we’re going about our lives just trying to ask and answer the question, “How are you?”

Speaking of messages, what overarching themes or messages are throughout the album, overall? How does this song fit in among them?

This song comes around halfway through the 12 songs. The whole album is about my past. I like this little vignette in the center of the LP. It’s pretty simple. Straightforward. It shows up after a handful of more complicated songs about personal habits and memories, as if to say, “Okay. Let me say it another way. I am becoming my mother, and I am stressed about it.” It distills down the whole point into something everyone can relate to: the overwhelming nature of human to human interaction. The impossibility of telling or hearing the whole truth. The way we try, anyway. I’m a haunted house full of history and ghosts and shadows. So are you. This song is a look inside one of the boxes in the basement.


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