by Anna Mroczkowski
photos by Puja Parakh
Lemolo is the beautiful musical creation of Meagan Grandall and Kendra Cox. I’ve never heard an actual siren’s song before but I imagine it would sound a lot like Meagan’s voice. A voice with the kind of magic that’s seductive while still leaving you thinking that it’s still your choice to love it so much. Their self-released debut album Kaleidoscope has received massive rave reviews and adoration from the Seattle music scene. They have played many (if not all) of the great Seattle festivals like City Arts, Bumbershoot, Doe Bay, Dave Matthews Caravan and on December 7th Lemolo will open alongside the wonderful Choklat and for the also amazing Allen Stone at the Paramount. I love seeing a great local line up like this for a venue like the Paramount.
For our photo shoot we worked with photographer Puja Parakh and stylist Rhiannon Tangi to shine a night light on this luminous duo. Puja’s enthusiasm was infections and she was hunting out her shots like a bloodhound. You could see the photographer gears turning. Rhiannon was so excellent at being the eyes of detail so we could work the bigger picture that I don’t want to run another shoot without her ever again. I don’t think we were quite prepared for how much fun we were all going to have roaming around downtown, talking about the wonder that is bubble tea and disrupting the normal hustle and bustle of tourists and business folk (and a couple of lovely teens atop the Harbor Steps). I appreciate artists who like to have fun and these two do. In no time at all we were making silly references to “what’s our motivation?” scenarios. They were casual and receptive and ready to collaborate all while maintaining a good grasp of how Lemolo fit into the suggestions.
A band is a unique artistic relationship. It was really interesting to watch these women interact with each other and the situation. The first thing you’ll notice about Kendra and Meagan is their personalities are strikingly different but blend together so beautifully. More like a Kaleidoscope (I couldn’t help myself!) than say a smoothie (shrug) because neither of them want the other to be anyone other than who they already are. Where Meagan is poised and deliberate with her words, Kendra is more wacky and improvisational. Meagan was careful to make sure Kendra felt comfortable throughout (and after) the shoot, and Kendra almost knocked a passerby out for making a snarky remark about Meagan’s shoes. The next thing I noticed was their approachable genuine natures. They were happy to be there and talk about music and art and friendship with endearing sincerity. Both of them in their own way showed they truly care about being good people to one another and just in general. It came through in how they treated both strangers and each other and I think it’s also reflected in their body of work and their active community involvement. Anyone who sings songs to statues in Westlake Park is alright in my book.
They have cute and quirky stories like meeting while working at a kayak rental spot in Pouslbo (in fact the name Lemolo is after a street in their neighborhood), Kendra learning how to play the drums in 3 days to place second in a battle of the bands for their first performance together. Selling out tickets to their debut album release show in 11 hours (two shows no less) is more amazing and fantastic than quirky and cute but like I said, they are a kaleidoscope!
The path of an artist is not an easy one. One of the reasons we are here is to talk about how people you see everyday do extraordinary things in order to keep making art. When you get to the point where you can pursue your art full-time it’s a pretty big moment and requires a lot of support and conviction. Lemolo has that in spades and do not take one ounce of it for granted. Meagan was effusive when describing how grateful she was for her mother’s continued vital support of her dreams.
When did you know that investing in Lemolo full time was your path in life?
I knew that I wanted to pursue a full time career in music since I was young girl. I have always had a passion for songwriting and performing my work, but while I was in school I didn’t have the time it took to make it a career. It was always my intention to become a musician after I graduated from college, and dedicate all of my time to it for at least a few years to see where it would take me. It just so happened that I started playing music with Kendra during my senior year, and we chose the name Lemolo the summer after graduation. The timing was very auspicious.
You mentioned working with Rain City Rock Camp, what did you guys do with them? When? Have you worked with any other youth arts programs?
We performed a lunch time show at this summer’s Rain City Rock Camp for Girls, where we basically played a full set of music to the girls at camp during their lunch hour. They had a chance to dance and sing along, and then ask us questions about our careers in music. It was a really great experience, getting to see their enthusiasm for music and hopefully inspire them as well. My experience as a musician thus far has been that there are not enough women in the music industry. So anything to do to help inspire young girls to join in on the fun is very fulfilling.
Do either of you give back to your communities in any other capacity?
We have participated in a number of benefit shows, which have helped raise money for organizations throughout the city such as the Rainier Valley Food Bank and the Nature Consortium. We recently participated in a very progressive and exciting project called Protosong . We donated an unreleased live track, along with other independent musicians in Seattle, to a playlist which is currently for sale on their website until October 17th. The playlist can be purchased for any amount people are willing to give, and then the proceeds are dedicated to help bring clean water to people in developing nations. I would highly suggest you check it out, and spread the good word.
Do you have any advice to young singer/songwriters out there who might be dreaming of performing on stage one day?
My main advice would be to believe in yourself, and to not limit yourself when it comes to setting your goals. Write down a list of all of the things you would like to accomplish even if they seem impossible at first. I have found that if you want those things enough, it is highly likely that after a lot of hard work they can all happen for you.
They roll up their sleeves for each other, their friends, fellow musicians and their community. The ladies cite local artists like Kaylee Cole, Bryan John Appleby and the Head and the Heart as both personal favorites and valuable mentors (bonus points awarded if you can guess what all these bands have in common!). Meagan is hosting a fundraiser that auctioned off tickets to an intimate in-home acoustic performance where the proceeds will go to help a friend in need. Lemolo is a truly remarkable example of a great band who make great music and do great things because they are great women! I’m truly looking forward to watching their colors change and multiply.