I was first introduced to indie pop singer-songwriter Laura Galindo at a house show at a mutual friend’s apartment in Brooklyn, where I watched her perform a duet with Jackson Dockery from the Brooklyn post-punk trio, Mary Shelley. The lyrics to the song consisted of a hilarious back-and-forth dialogue between two narrators: a pompous asshole with no game trying to convince a woman to get a drink with him, and the woman outright rejecting his advances and putting him in his place.
This wasn’t the first time Galindo and Dockery had collaborated on a song. She also contributed vocals to Mary Shelley’s “Nursing Home Jig,” a song written from the perspective of an old man with dementia in an assisted living facility slowly losing his mind while his wife attempts to tether him back to earth.
This specific crossover may register as a surprise to listeners, since it makes about as much sense on paper as Adrianne Lenker singing on a Viagra Boys song. Stylistically, Galindo and Dockery’s separate musical outputs couldn’t be more different. But whenever they team up, they click so well; a chemistry that can largely be attributed not just to their long-time friendship, but also their shared love of theatre.
When I first saw Galindo perform, I was immediately struck by her plentiful charisma and otherworldly voice. What makes Galindo’s work so compelling is not only her soul-crushing lyrics about the higher stakes of love and heartbreak, but also the fact that she knows exactly how to emote these lyrics with nuanced vocal affectations in the studio and calculated body language in a live setting, skills she’s undoubtedly honed through her background in theatre. Even more impressive is her ability to dissolve the invisible barriers of genre classification. Her catalog flaunts a wonderfully varied range of sounds, from no-frills acoustic indie folk ballads with lo-fi analog tape textures on her latest double-sided single, Amateurs, to the ambitiously experimental art-pop production on her 2021 EP In Front of Your TV.
A Grrrl’s Two Sound Cents caught up with Laura Galindo to discuss her love of theatre, staying emotionally rooted in the fast-paced environment of New York life, and her childhood affection for Disney heartthrob pop.
Welcome to A Grrrl’s Two Sound Cents! Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Sure! My name is Laura, and I’m a musician and music teacher from Colombia. I’ve been living in New York for seven years. I came to the city to go to school for musical theatre and have been finding creative ways to fuse music and theatre together ever since. Beyond my creative life, I’m really prone to having a lot of hobbies, from soccer to photography, and poetry. I put a lot of value in community, which is why so much of what I do is community-oriented.
How and when did you start making music?
Music was part of a really formative time in my life. My mom taught at my elementary school, so I’d always arrive at school very early, because my mom would drive me there. I would sit in the car while she went inside to prepare for work and spend 40 minutes listening to music every single morning. I have so many fond memories attached to that car. Not long after that, I picked up guitar and piano and continued writing all throughout high school during my downtime. I was definitely more of a theatre kid growing up, so music was more of a private activity. When I got to college, I started performing songs I’d written throughout my life. I posted in an online student group that I was looking for someone to play the cajon for me, and that was how I found Greg, my creative partner. We’ve been playing together for seven years now. He’s my go-to producer and he introduced me to all my bandmates. Another big part of what made me take music seriously was having a band, because there’s this group of people around me who really believe in my work and want to enhance the vision.
What type of stuff were you playing in your mom’s car as a kid?
To nobody’s surprise, I was BIG into the Jonas Brothers and Jesse McCartney. When I listen back to that stuff now, I’m not embarrassed, that shit still slaps. It’s crazy how good “Beautiful Soul” is. I will go on record saying it’s one of the greatest love songs ever written. And A Little Bit Longer by the Jonas Brothers is a slammin’ album. The melodies are immaculate. I had a very “unsophisticated” music taste for a long time, which I’m honestly very grateful for. Nowadays I listen to pretty much everything and have a much wider view, but I’m glad that a lot of the music I grew up with had nothing to do with appearing “cool” or “smart.” It was just about having fun and enjoying stuff that’s catchy and clever in very simple ways. That’s what music should be.
How do personal and external circumstances impact your songwriting?
A lot of my music is about my romantic life, mostly because it’s very easy and accessible to write about. Most people are familiar with the modes of language in a love song. That’s something that really guides me. A major turning point in my songwriting journey was when I got to college and started listening to Amy Winehouse. Most of the artists I idolized growing up were almost all men. Nowadays I find that hilarious because I listen to mostly women now, but what really clicked for me with Amy was that she wrote so intimately about her life. She never shied away from the high stakes and the uglier, more difficult parts of loving someone. That changed everything for me. I really can’t put this lightly: even if one day I decided to never share music with anyone ever again, I would still be writing songs. At this point, songwriting is the only outlet that makes all of my highest highs and lowest lows feel worth it.
How would you classify yourself musically?
I just love experimenting. One day I’ll make something that might sound a little jazzier, or I might make something dancey or experimental. At the end of the day, I love being theatrical. The characters in my songs are always very clear, and I love to deliver a clear narrative in my songs that’s very cheeky, but also sincere.
I’m obsessed with the lyrics and dynamic sonic elements of “In Front of Your TV.” How did that song come about?
It’s funny you mention that because that was actually one of the hardest songs to finish. We had a full version that we sat with for over four months. Greg and I were seriously considering cutting it, cause every time we tried something new we came away from it going, “Man, this song suuuucks!” Eventualluy we decided to go back to the drawing board. We rehashed our references—some big ones being the song “You Can Have It All” by Yo La Tengo and a large chunk of Blood Orange and Solange’s discographies—and we decided to get a little weirder. We added some weird sample loops, we started thumping on stacks of books, and imrpovising weird, off-kilter harmonies. Taking those creative risks really pushed the song over the edge and brought all the missing pieces together.
I seriously dig your collaborations with Mary Shelley. It sounds like Amy Winehouse time-traveling and collaborating with the Dead Boys. How did that partnership come about?
Oh hell yeah, I love those boys. Jackson and I first met at NYU. I was sound-designing a show that he was acting in and we weren’t super close at the time, but we’ve always been in the same sphere. When he asked me to sing on one of his songs, I wasn’t even aware that he was also a musician. At that point he was still writing the lyrics to “Burgeois de Ville” and when he showed me the song I was like, “Jackson, holy shit! These lyrics are insane.” I was gobsmacked. We recorded “Nursing Home Jig” together and since then I’ve gone to pretty much every Mary Shelley show to perform it with them. I’d like to think of myself as an honorary member of the band. It’s such an awesome partnership because musically, we’re worlds apart from each other, but we share a key familiarity, which is a love of drama and theatricality. Mary Shelley always puts on a good show because they understand all the elements and mechanics of what makes such a powerful, striking performance. An outsider might look at it as unmediated chaos, which a lot of great punk rock is, but anyone familiar with theatre can tell that Mary Shelley’s performances are really calculated, and to see it all come alive is incredible.
What does the rest of the year have in store for Laura Galindo?
You can listen to my double-sided single, and be on the lookout for more new material to come!
KEEP UP TO DATE WITH LAURA GALINDO
See Laura Galindo at Bowery Electric on 10.30.22 – TICKETS