k.d. lang is an icon to women in the music industry who is also known for her activism for gay rights and animal rights. Laura Veirs is a cult-favorite indie musician and songwriter who produces some of the Pacific Northwest's finest music. Neko Case has been in more bands than we could possibly list here, but most notably the New Pornographers, and is a successful solo musician in her own right. Now, the three have teamed up for a project called case/lang/veirs, working together in Portland to collaboratively write and record an album that will be released on June 17.
I remember the first time I heard each of them sing. k.d. lang blew my mind with her slow and sensual style on "Constant Craving." I listened to "Galaxies" by Laura Veirs on repeat for literally years and felt like my heart was being destroyed each time. Neko Case made me want to sing and dance like a woman barely holding on to her sense of control on the New Pornographers track "Mass Romantic."
Courtney E. Smith: How did this project get started?
k.d. lang: I felt like doing something different. I felt like doing a group collaboration to bring in a little bit of outside joy into my musical experience. On a whim, I just … I don't remember what, emailed or texted the girls, and they immediately responded, saying, "Let's do it."
Laura Veirs: She asked if we wanted to start a band, and I said, "Let me check my schedule. I'm free!" I think I might have just had a baby at the time. I was very busy, but I was pretending like I wasn't busy.
Neko Case: I didn't think about it at all, I just said, "Well, yeah, of course I want to do that!" I don't think I reacted, I just snatched it up.
CES: What was it like to collaborate?
LV: Initially, we thought we might do a punky girl group, but then we kept writing songs and they weren't that style. We were writing Americana/folk/indie music — we just had to follow what the songs were.
NC: We definitely came at it knowing that it was going to be a strange situation, because all three of us are alpha personalities who run our own bands. We're all in charge of ourselves, and we do things in very different ways. k.d. is at the big music industry end of the spectrum and has done all the huge things you can do. Laura has been doing her own DIY thing, putting her band together by herself and giving it to record companies later. I'm in the middle of the two. It was an interesting fit.
kdl: Oh my God. There was a ton of compromise. We definitely had different ideas of songwriting and lyrical approaches and so forth. Egos were slain and conceptions were slain and there were really tense times, but I would say the music kept us together, kept us focused, and kept us feeling like we had a good, positive momentum.
CES: How did you blend your musical styles to come up with cohesive songs and, ultimately, an album?
kdl: We came to a crossroads in the music when started trying to demo them. We all decided that we didn't want to have three-part harmonies on every song and that we didn't want to try to make every song a trio song. What we thought was interesting, and more to what we were doing instinctually, was that Laura does take a song, and then I try to blend into her, and Neko blends into her. We did want it to feel more like a collaborative band rather than a three-star trio thing.