Landlady bringing unique style to M-Shop

Landlady will be at the Maintenance Shop Thursday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 ($7 with student ID).

Kyle Cravens

Indie-psychedelic band Landlady has been writing and performing music since 2011.

The Brooklyn, New York, natives are currently touring for their new album, “The World Is a Loud Place” (2017). Although previous album “Keeping to Yourself” (2011) and EP “Heat” (2015) gained the group attention and a loyal fan base, “The World Is a Loud Place” marks a turning point.

Its creativity is at a pinnacle, and the sounds and art associated with the band are unique and intriguing. Intentional or not, Landlady is very distinguishable in the indie scene, perhaps due to contrasting melodies, differing tempos and the vocal stylings of front-man Adam Schatz.

The five-piece band has never been shy to express its affection for experimental sound. It strives to expand human experience through music.

Schatz is the singer and visionary. He has been in numerous bands over the years, including Vampire Weekend. Schatz has been at the fore of the group for some time, and his experiences in music fuel his desire to share Landlady’s message with the world.

Musical “heroes” for Schatz include Wilco, Randy Newman, Nina Simone, Donny Hathaway and The Beatles. Landlady draws inspiration from these well-known artists, but it also draws from its peers.

“Our friend’s bands for sure inspire us constantly,” Schatz said. “We all get to see each other play and feel the challenge to keep getting better. Ava Luna, Xenia Rubinos, Celestial Shore…”

Landlady is a product constantly improving and changing, learning from other acts and fans. Schatz spoke of being influenced by bands like Wilco and The Beatles, as those bands dabble in experimental music just as Landlady does.

Schatz generates much of the music, at least in the beginning, compared to the other four Landlady members: Ian Chang, Will Graefe, Ian Davis and Booker Stardrum.  

“The songs start with me, usually at a piano,” he said. “I never take the songs fully to the finish line before bringing them to the band, because I fully trust and expect everyone to tackle the material with really strong and exciting ideas.”

Every member of the group has something to add to the creation of songs.

“We just pounce on the songs together,” Schatz said. “Sometimes I have arrangement concepts in mind and we start there, sometimes I have no idea and we see where the song takes us. Melody, lyrics and chords usually start with me, and the individual parts are a group effort. Everyone is so talented and full of good humor, which is essential to the process.”

Numerous artists today draw lyrical inspiration from past experiences or storytelling, and Landlady is no exception.

“Everywhere and everything can end up in a song,” Schatz said. “I have a master lyric sheet that I put any and every idea into, and sometimes those make it into songs. Other times, it’s not until the guts of a song are written that I can start singing and have words begin to shape.”

Schatz often expands beyond the experiences.

“They’re usually a blend of fact and fiction, disguised on purpose, maybe in the name of mystery, maybe in honor of poetry, or maybe because that’s the most fun for me,” he said.

Schatz plays multiple instruments, but he is fond of a few, especially when it comes to putting a song together.

“I nearly always write on the keyboard, either piano or Wurlitzer usually,” he said. “Every so often I sit down on the drums or at the bass just to let my own limitations on those instruments draw a different idea center out of me. I really can’t write on guitar. I play decent guitar, but it’s not one that I go to for writing.”

The newest album is unique for more than just its music.

Every song has a gif that was picked to be associated with it. Fans are encouraged to stare into these designs and, along with the music, interpret a deeper meaning. This idea aids in the psychedelic nature of the music.

Schatz revealed the origins of the idea.

“The brains behind Hometapes, the record label who put out this and our last album, were big fans of Jesse Jacobs, the comic artist,” Schatz said. “He’s made some incredible books, and we used some of his artwork for our ‘Heat’ EP.

“Early last year Hometapes asked him to make a poster for a show we were playing, and he used the same aesthetic that became the album artwork. And he made it move. But it naturally evolved into being an animated gif album cover. And then it became a different gif for every song.”

The gifs take the place of traditional visuals and videos that accompany songs and albums.

“Rather than make one music video, we went for 13 visual loops,” Schatz said. “And you can get lost in them. You can stare for an hour and the colors and shapes will develop. It feels exciting to have artwork as dynamic as the music.”

It is also important for the band to come out with vinyl versions of its music. The gifs are included, this time just pictures. This level of fan service is extremely valued, especially considering how vinyl was the medium for artists of the past.

“It feels great to make something tactile, and vinyl still sells on the road,” Schatz said. “It’s big and bold, and especially with killer artwork, it gives fans something to hold. I like being tethered to the past and connected to how my heroes released music.”

Schatz’s favorite songs to perform change as new ones make it into the live set. “Cadaver” and “Haymaker” are the ones he currently looks forward to perform during concerts. 

“They’re new to the live set, so they feel a little uncomfortable, and it’s fun to work that stuff out in front of an audience,” Schatz said.

At the same time, songs that have been part of the live set all along are favorites.

“‘Electric Abdomen’ or ‘Nina’ may be the most fun because we have toured those before so they come second nature, and we can really slam into them at a live show. It’s pretty important for me to knock audiences off their feet.”’

Landlady does not see themselves on the mainstream radio in the future despite the band’s growing popularity.

“Our music will never be welcomed on regular radio, and that’s OK,” Schatz said. “It has too many layers, or it can’t be compared easily enough to something else, or we can’t afford to pay a radio promoter to get it on regular radio.”

Schatz does not seem to mind that the band does not fit a profile for mainstream radio.

“Fewer and fewer people listen to regular radio, and the college radio and NPR love we’ve gotten has felt super great,” Schatz said. “Spotify is basically the new radio, and all these artists and regular folks are the DJs, sharing their playlists and tastes. I think that is a pretty special thing.”

Landlady will be at the Maintenance Shop at 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $10, $7 with a student ID.