Julien Baker Turn Out The LightsTwo years on from her acclaimed debut Sprained Ankle, 22-year-old Tenneseean multi-instrumentalist Julien Baker has released the stirring, intimate, drum-less Turn Out The Lights.

Can you describe the space we’re hearing you walk through before the album’s opening instrumental piece, Over?

In the very first moments of the song Over you hear the door to the studio close, and the sound of me walking across the main large room in Studio A; it’s a big tracking room with high ceilings and hard wood floors, so it’s a relatively responsive room, acoustically speaking.

About single Appointments, you have said: “I was like, I have reached critical mass for this amoeba of sadness and it cannot possibly turn out alright. But for the sake of my continuing to exist, I have to believe that it will.” Does that take practice, for survival?

I think that choosing to believe in an optimistic possibility or apply hope to a situation that seems not to have any room for hope is a practice we often form out of necessity, I guess as a function of tolerating cognitive dissonance, because I think if we were not able to preserve some form of belief that our circumstances will inevitably change or improve, then we would be crippled by hopelessness. I think our choice to persevere is one that we make intuitively, but that we can learn to harness when we need to overcome what seem to be insurmountable obstacles in our lives.

In Shadowboxing, you mention singing too loud in church – is it that you can release in a place that is traditionally very structured?

I used to love the apparent freedom that singing as a group gave people. It happens at shows too, but often during a church service, where the members of the congregation or crowd seem to have less inhibition about singing because they aren’t alone, they aren’t really worried about or embarrassed by whether or not they are singing on key; what’s important is the participatory activity they are sharing with their community. I think that sort of comfort or freedom is really unique and powerful.

You don’t use percussion on the album – you’re confident to let your melodic instruments create all the movement you need. Did you try any of these tracks with beats initially, or was it clear to you from the get-go you didn’t want to include drums?

I knew going into the studio that I wanted to maintain the same sparseness as the last record, while still trying to explore more dynamics and experiment with new instrumentation. I didn’t specifically intend for there to be no percussion on the record; there are songs on Sprained Ankle that have percussion and I wouldn’t have been opposed to auxiliary beats or drums if I thought it served the song well. I think it just happened that as the songs were coming together, the ones we chose for the final tracklist of the record were those without percussion.

Turn Out The Lights is out October 27 via Matador/Remote Control.

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