Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The LEO interview: Langhorne Slim

You can read LEO's profile of Langhorne Slim in this week's print edition. For fans, here's more of our discussion:

LEO: First of all, tell me about your grandma.
Sean Scolnick: My grandma is a wonderful woman. All my grandparents were very wonderful people. I’m in Florida now with her because my grandpops did pass away about 5,6 months ago. I’m from Philly, from a town called Langhorne, and she’s been living with my mom. Now that the weather’s getting shitty, she’s coming back to Florida, so I came back to help the transition a little bit. It’s been cool, man. We had time off, since we just recorded a new record, so I was in Argentina and now I’m in Florida — I’m doing everything I can to follow the sun.

LEO: Where in Florida are you?
SS: Delray Beach. It’s where the old East Coast Jews go to retire.

LEO: Right…
SS: I saw your last name, I thought you might be also part of the tribe.

LEO: I would not have known that you were, from your music, or a casual glance. But I see it now.
SS: Right (laughs). There’s not too many Jewish themes in my music, but I’m not trying to keep it a secret. I’m proud.

LEO: Has there been any influence, culturally if not sonically, on your songwriting or performance?
SS: I don’t know. Certainly there’s an impact, just being raise that way. I sort of gave it up religiously; people say, “You’re more like a Jew through the tradition or the culture, family stuff,” that’s stuff I feel is a part of my world and my life. But I’m not exactly practicing.

LEO: If your band played some Klezmer tunes, it wouldn’t not make sense.
SS: No, in fact, I consider Klezmer to be dance music. I love me some Klezmer. I listen to it and I dance around to it, but I never play it myself.

LEO: What does your grandma think about your music?
SS: My grandparents have been extremely, extremely supportive. We just recorded this record — usually when we’re done recording records in the past, I would have a CD of rough mixes and play it for my family. This time, I just had it on my iPhone, and I don’t have an adaptor — so we thinks I’m holding out on her. She’s like, “Don’t you just have a CD?” One of these days, I’m gonna go to a store out here and find an adaptor so I can play it for her. She’s come out to shows and has always been — my whole family, but my grandparents had a major impact on my brother and me, growing up, and they’ve always been one hundred percent supportive and really into it. Which is pretty awesome.

LEO: It’s great that they never tried to push you to be a doctor or a lawyer.
SS: You know what I think it was, man? I think they might have thought about it, but I think it was so clear, growing up, that that was not a path that I was going to be able to take, even if I wanted to, and that if anything was going to keep me out of trouble, that would be art or performing or music. I think they saw how happy it made me and, as soon as I started gaining certain accomplishments or making a living at it, it would almost have been crazy to talk me out of doing something that made me happy, that I was also starting to make a living at.

LEO: How do they feel about your itinerant lifestyle, being on the road and moving around all the time?
SS: I think, in the beginning, my mom, too, they would worry about me, just traveling so much, and I think that they’d didn’t even understand, like the first time we went to Italy: “There’s somebody in Italy that you’ve never met, who contacted you and now you’re gonna go there for a month and travel around Europe …?” I’m like, “Yeah! (laughs) This is what I’ve always wanted, this is the way this life goes.” So now they get it. They’re still my Jewish mother and grandmother, but I think now they realize they’re still going to worry a little bit, but I’m not going and getting kidnapped; I’m actually going because people have booked shows, and we’re gonna go play them.

LEO: They thought it was like internet dating at first, but now they see you on “Letterman”.
SS: That’s what shows are, essentially. They book the show and then you show up and meet a bunch of strangers (laughs). That’s the beauty of this life, man, it’s what I love. I do, I do.

LEO: Do you find the concert experience to be like a blind date?
SS: Well, I went on one blind date when I was a lot younger, and it was fucking terrible. There are similarities, but I wouldn’t equate it. I mean, I play shows that are terrible, too, but the vast majority would be like a really, really great blind date.

LEO: When you have a bad show, do you blame it on the audience?
SS: Never. I’m hard on myself, to a fault. We play a ton of shows, so not every night is going to be magic — I understand that intellectually, but in my heart and soul, that’s what I want. I’m upset with myself any time it really isn’t that way. There certainly is a major component where the energy of the band and the energy of the audience, when it does synch up in that magical, beautiful way, it certainly helps the show to be great. If an audience is super low energy and the big is really high energy, it can be a crappier version of the blind date. I always think that it’s up to the performer to connect and to try to get those magical results.

c. 2012 LEO Weekly

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