It’s a noirish Wednesday night on Wealthy Street, rainy and overcast. Lacroix Winget and I are holed up in the red-walled cave known as The Meanwhile, locked intensely in a game of mental chess, a battle of wills. Ok, that’s not entirely true. A more accurate account would be that Lacroix is keeping it real with me, and I’m getting frustrated.
For the past couple weeks I had been attempting a write-up on the emerging artist and her exploits. After breaking open 2015 with the release of Pear, a six-track EP comprised of loopy, hypnotic phrases and Lacroix’s unique vocals articulating sadness as honestly as possible, she’s capping the year with change. A new band, booked shows, plans for tours … the ingredients, as presented, make for a pretty straightforward story.
Yet, as I get closer, the task of quantifying her successes, or how she feels about them, grows increasingly elusive. She enjoys her recent stability, but longs for the chaos of her younger days. Her dedication to the craft is absolute, but she is distrustful of forced commitment to it. She loves music, and couldn’t give a fuck about it at the same time. Who is this person?
Analyze the recent musical moves separate from the woman making them, and no one could blame you for seeing the rise of the newest public obsession on the tea leaves. Lacroix and her new assassins – collectively June Earth – are riding high off their most recent show at Pyramid Scheme, where they opened for Tigers Jaw. Comprised of Tim Barrett on lead, Cody Gallagher on bass, Luke Aaron as the drummer, and Lacroix on vocals and rhythm, the quartet held sway of the crowd, seducing the attention spans of hypnotized hipsters while debuting new songs. It was the kind of set you can make a name on. Post ovation, a grateful fan throws roses to the frontwoman. Lacroix picks them up, smiles politely, and then exits the stage with a mixed expression of equal parts satisfaction and confusion.
To explain Lacroix’s thoughts on recognition for her art is easy – they are non-existent. ”I could care less about fame. It sounds like a big headache for me, and would probably cause problems.” You can sense genuine annoyance with the idea of anything having to do with a spotlight, and being the center of it. Still, it begs the question, why even do it then? What’s the point of committing to the practices and performances? Why open yourself up to the pressure of other people’s expectations at all? They’re not unreasonable questions, least of all to the woman herself. “I wonder sometimes. I only really started a band because I wanted to spend more time with my best friend Luke, and to have fun with him. It is a good feeling to play with all of them, almost like we’re having a really great conversation, or learning something all for the first time. We all love seeing each other happy and building each other up and that makes it worth it.”
I could care less about fame. It sounds like a big headache for me, and would probably cause problems. – Lacroix
While outside smoking a cig, the convo shifts to Lacroix’s time as a drifter, train hopping and homeless, and her first year on the tracks. ”It was being new at a subculture that you have to be fully submerged in that made it scary. Some people can be very abrasive and overwhelmingly judgmental. I was always very insecure that people looked down on me because I didn’t know what I was doing a lot of the time.” Nostalgia for the hard life takes hold, and her eyes move past me, focusing on memories, smirking as she recalls her path from state to state, each one as random as the next, no certain direction. Her former life was one of uninhibited freedom, here today to be gone the next, in a state of constant flux. Today, that boundless freedom has been traded for something new — stability. The boxcar was traded for an address, and the busking for PetSmart. While she doesn’t take the new digs and gig for granted, this route is markedly less inspiring than the one formerly traveled, which can kinda be an issue for a woman whose outlet is a creative one.
“I am trying very hard to remember a time that I was inspired to be creative when I was stable. I tend to not ever be stable either, so I guess I could say both being stable and making art when I am stable are pretty non-existent things.”, says Lacroix, displaying a not-uncommon symptom among those afflicted with musical talent. The insatiable taste for turmoil. Kurt, Elliot, Amy, Patsy … tale after tale has been recycled with the same arc:
Person has talent.
Person uses talent to reach peak of recognition.
Person crashes and burns in stylishly dramatic fashion.
Person becomes meme.
History is chock full of those with ambition and talent to spare, and no self awareness. Refreshingly, Lacroix is nothing if not self aware, and her plans don’t include an untimely demise – at least as far as music is concerned.
Lacroix’s great ambition? Move to the countryside and open a dog rescue. Inspired by her love for her canine companion, Copper, and the displaced in general, her plan initially would focus on pit bulls and then expand, with an eventual pivot on the community at large. As she describes her hopes for the future, the drive attached the idea of the rescue shadows any ambition she has shown for music. It’s yet another anomaly that leaves me scratching my head, and wondering if I have any idea who I’m interviewing at all.
We’ve been sitting in the same booth for an hour now, and I’m a single sip of a Long Island away from putting my head through the table. A simple interview meant to clarify and close a half-written story has instead blown my subject wide open, with her many facets of character seeming above the level of my skills to define.
Tired, buzzed, and running out of angles, I throw out a question I see as, one with no weight or insight, just alive to keep the minutes on the clock satiated. The old school would refer to this as the proverbial softball.
“What’s your favorite part of making music?”
A question so basic, the right amount of vanity mixed with inexperience might cause an interviewer not to ask it. Still, the universe shows mercy in the form of a new light behind Lacroix’s eyes. The statue has been moved, the cave is alive, a la “Raiders.” I’m feeling like, for the first time all night, I’m inspiring Lacroix to think.
“I love seeing how my writing transforms from a thought or a feeling to a mess of words, then from there just me and my guitar to a crazy loud full band banger that somehow still holds the same feelings that I intended from the beginning. My music goes through so many doors before it reaches the end. It’s really satisfying, like squeegeeing a wet floor.”
Her answer drops on my mind like a brick, and the sensation is similar to finding your long-lost car keys in your front pocket. Employing the status quo cynicism, I assumed that I was interviewing an exploiter, someone interested in the acquisition of goods for their services. I was wrong. Questions of money wanted, amenities desired, celebs that are idolized and wished to be met are rendered obsolete as they all boil down to one simple answer; Lacroix is not a careerist, she is a craftswoman.
“Can we just sit here and write for a minute?” The question comes abruptly and assertively, rightfully so, after being talked at for an hour and a half straight, Lacroix is ready to write, a feeling I’m both respectful and envious of. I oblige and observe as she pulls spare envelopes from her backpack, ready to begin. Her body huddles protectively over her writing, her eyes are as focused as laser beams. The pen is in frantic motion, moving spastically and violently, mimicking the stream of consciousness from mind to paper. It’s as if she’s left her body here, while her mind is travelling far and away.
A woman possessed.
As I watch her operate in the zone, with confidence and dedication, humility washes over me like a wave when how quick I was to speculate on the material value of Lacroix’s talent. It’s easy to imagine a person from whom touching phrases seem to fall effortlessly to want some sort of award for making people happy. It’s harder to envision the artist who creates out of inherent need. Not for you and I, but for themselves.
She finishes, and like clicking a stopwatch, I can tell that our time together is up. I’m restless, she’s restless, and the bar is getting too crowded to be productive anyway.
As she gathers her things and heads to a meeting of community musicians, I catch myself attempting to label her again in admiration. A young Patti Smith, or a new Elliot Smith. My mind almost comes around to a Salinger comparison before realizing it’s pointless anyway. Lacroix is Lacroix, whoever she wants to be, on her own time.
Written By: Dominique Damron
Edited By: Becky Spaulding
Photos By: Sylvia Vaser