Rolling Stone called them ‘unexpected showstoppers’, everyone in the music industry is raving about them and, of course, over two million YouTube viewers can’t be wrong.
Lake Street Dive have been dubbed the next Mumford and Sons and are expected to explode onto the music scene in much the same way as the British band.
Luckily for us, Lake Street Dive will be heading down under to play at WOMADelaide in March this year.
Speaking to The Upside News from her home in chilly, wintery Brooklyn, award winning jazz vocalist and lead singer of Lake Street Dive Rachael Price says she is enthusiastic about playing the diverse festival of music, arts and dance.
“I’m really excited about getting to see the other acts. I was looking at the line-up recently and was super excited about how diverse it is. We play a lot of festivals here but they don’t seem to get the international pull that WOMAD has,” she says.
Born in Sydney but living permanently in the USA, Rachael studied at the New England Conservatory in Boston where she met fellow Lake Street Dive band members.
The band was hand picked by trumpet/guitar player Mike Olson and named after an actual neighbourhood of seedy bars in his hometown.
He brought vocalist Rachael Price, bassist Bridget Kearney and drummer Mike Calabrese together in 2004 to form pop-soul juggernaut, Lake Street Dive.
In 2012, the band posted a casually filmed version of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” (below) which has now raced past two million views and launched them to where they are now: playing international gigs and being raved about in Rolling Stone.
“We were thinking it would get the same amount of views as all the other videos we posted,” Rachael says of the group’s surprise at the video’s popularity.
“It wasn’t even our idea to do that song. We were taking other videos of songs we’d recorded for the EP we were promoting, Fun Machine and our friend who was filming it told us to do one run through of that song. He put it up online and it went viral about five months later.”
While the video was going viral, Lake Street Dive was holed up in a recording studio built inside an 18th century farmhouse in rural Maine with little knowledge that they were becoming a sensation.
“We wanted to work with this one producer and that’s where his studio was. We didn’t have any internet or cell phone coverage. There was a landline phone but that was the only connection to the outside world. That was ideal for us and it was right around the time the “I Want You Back” video started to take off,” Rachael says.
“We were completely shut off from the rest of the world and we didn’t know there was any attention on us. We were just a completely obscure band going in and making a record mostly for fun. It was nice because, in a way, we won’t ever get that back again. Now there’ll be added pressure when we make our next album, but it was really nice being shut off and not knowing what the Internet was doing.”
Lake Street Dive sound like a sultry mix of Amy Winehouse and Sia accompanied by Sly and the Family Stone.
Dedicated to recreating the mood of the dive bars they are named after when they play, Rachael says that mood can easily translate to festivals, even one the size and diversity of WOMADelaide.
“What we learned from playing in the dive bars is that people like music they can move to, and from doing gigs like that we started to gear our music more towards people being able to dance, or at least move their bodies. So that works really well in a festival setting because people are standing up and they’re in the sun and having a good time,” she says.
Lake Street Dive will be playing songs from their latest album Bad Self Portraits. The title track is about the modern trend of the selfie, but Rachael says it also has further significance to the band.
“It came from the song and we figured it would make an apt title because the selfie is so prevalent right now in our society,” she says.
“All the songs are written from the individual person’s point of view and expresses their feelings and we felt each song is like a self portrait in itself.”
Having all studied music and being accomplished musicians in their own right, the members of Lake Street Dive have decided to set aside any side projects to focus entirely writing and collaborating as a band.
“We all had our own projects. I sang in my own band for a while, but a few years ago we decided we would quit everything else and only have the band as our main project. So currently Lake Street Dive is everything for us,” Rachael says.
“We are very collaborative. Everybody writes separately so we bring our individual songs to the band, but then we arrange them 100% together and that’s how it’s been from the start.”
WOMADelaide is on from 6-9th March at Botanic Park, Adelaide; tickets are available from the WOMAD website.
You can buy Lake Street Dive’s latest album Bad Self Portraits here.
Story by Libby Parker
Photo courtesy of Lake Street Dive