That album, 2013’s ‘Pull My Hair Back’, became the blueprint for Lanza’s sound: gauzy, gossamer and with earworms aplenty, but also served with a level of studied detachment. That distance, however, was no deliberate hard-to-get ploy, insists Lanza, looking back, but more of a simple necessity: “As much as I like singing, I’ve never felt comfortable with my voice, so I think with the first album especially, with all the different pitch-shifting and delays on my voice, was a way for me to disconnect from it and get into the production side of things,” she reflects. “I’m much more comfortable with hardware in front of me,” she laughs, making a goofy version of the international sign language for playing the piano as she talks.
And what about now? Her second album, ‘Oh No’ feels noticeably peppier – faster, for one, but also more substantial, and just generally a more enjoyable album, both to listen to and, it seems, to have made. “Well, I think I’m just less depressed now!” Lanza chuckles, when asked what’s changed in the past three years. Then she pauses, feeling suddenly bashful about making a potential revelation. “Oh god that sounded awful didn’t it! Like, ‘oh boo hoo I’m so sad’!” she half-grimaces, her likeable self-awareness cutting through again. “It wasn’t like I wasn’t in some sort of deep, dark place or anything, I was just… I don’t know. I think everybody has their ups and downs. It’s a pretty common way to feel, I think.”
Without pausing, she pulls herself back on topic. “But anyways, I think with the second album I just didn’t really care anymore if people felt my voice was shitty. Or not! I was just like, fuck it, I’m going to sing!”
I raise my eyebrows at the idea someone would tell Lanza her voice is “shitty”. “I’ve actually had people tell me my voice is mediocre, which is even worse,” she laughs. “I wish someone would say, ‘oh her voice is shit’, like, ‘you’re total shit,’” she says, emphasising the insults, “But really it’s fine,” she brightens up. “I like it! I think it’s good for your character.”
For many musicians in her position, a throw-away line as self-effacing as that would seem disingenuous, almost a plea for contradiction. But Lanza seems to go out of her way to stay grounded, mainly via her trenchant reluctance to leave Hamilton, a post-industrial town full of ex-steel workers that she describes, with a half-smile as carrying “a lot of broken dreams” and “layers and layers of human misery.”
But despite the comic bleakness, Lanza’s sticking with her hometown for reasons greater than inertia. “It’s is a very down-to-earth place,” she explains, of her decision to stay put. “I think Hamilton’s good for reminding you that there’s only a niche market of people that care about you!” she says, cheerfully. “Hamilton keeps your ego in check, which creatively is good. It’s good to not be in the zeitgeist, to just be able to go into a bar and talk about whatever. You get good ideas that way, by just talking to normal people.
“I mean, it’s nice to be around people who don’t give a shit about what I’m doing,” she continues. “It’s pretty boring to talk to people who are doing the exact same thing that you’re doing, and to people who just want to talk about themselves and their music and art. I just don’t want to talk about my art and their art all the time.
“And,” she adds, warmly, “it’s nice to be close to my mum and my family. I’m a homebody really. Maybe there’s a small part of me that wants to be out there and not care about home, but that’s not really me.”