Lower Dens' Jana Hunter Talks Veggies & Hawaiian Print

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At first glance, Jana Hunter might not seem like your typical R29 girl. She has short, bowl-cut hair and thick glasses, and admittedly doesn't follow fashion. But that's not why we sought her out. Hunter is quietly becoming a major powerhouse in the indie-rock scene, a critical darling whose band Lower Dens is often mentioned in the same breath as fellow Baltimore scene-stealers Dan Deacon and Deerhunter. Last year, Lower Dens' debut album topped plenty of "best of" lists, from NPR to Gorilla Vs. Bear. The newest album, Nootropics, drops at the end of April, and is already gaining mass momentum.
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So, when we caught up to her, along with Lower Dens' bassist Geoff Graham, we knew she'd give us a fresh perspective on the Baltimore/D.C. scene. Oh, and on vegetables, too, which she likes to talk about quite a bit.
How do you keep sane on tour, or when you're playing a ton of shows in a row, like at SXSW?
Jana: "We haven't been drinking…very much. We've been consuming a lot of water and vegetables…fresh vegetables. Lots of sleep. And elements of yoga..."
When will we get to see you perform your new stuff?
Jana: "Starting in April. We have a couple of mid-Atlantic shows, and then we are touring in April."
Jeff: "The sets we've been doing at SXSW are mostly songs from our new album. There are a couple of older things, here and there, but for the most part, we've been trying our newer stuff."
What can we expect? What's change between this tour and the last one?
Jeff: "From last July…well, did we have five people then?"
Jana: "Yeah, we had just started with our fifth member, who is well-integrated by now. We have a couple of keyboards on stage, which we didn't have before. The sound is fuller, we have a new drummer. (He is kind of a monster. A quiet monster, an under-the-bed monster…)"
When you're home, what venues do you love the most, both for playing and hearing music?
Jeff: "Recently, a place called the Soft House has just been killing it with amazing shows, wonderful atmosphere, and good music. They are very creative. It's a warehouse space but they have complete control over the lighting and the way it feels when you are in there."
Jana: "It's very selective. The shows they put on are great. They are, however, softer shows. More of a thinking person's music.
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What other B'more bands have you been psyched on recently?
Jana: Lands And Peoples are pretty great. They haven't made it too far out of Baltimore yet, but I think they are starting to get some recognition. Dope Body is a fantastic rock band who I think will have a big year."
What some of your favorite things to do when you're home?
Jana: "Vegetables…"
Juices?
Jeff: "Juices."
Jana: "We actually just got a projector for our live show. We haven't figured it out yet, but we have brought it to the studio, and we work with it in the practice space. We unwind by practicing. We practice a lot, and play a lot of shows. There isn't a lot of downtime, but when there is, it is really lazy."
Jana, we love your Hawaiian shirt. Can you tell us about your onstage fashion?
Jana: "Well, Jeff doesn't require much more than a mustache. I like to wear billowy shirts that make me look taller. I don't know if that works, but I feel a little taller when I wear them. You've got to feel cool on stage. No matter what that means, you've got to look comfortable. Sometimes that means sweatpants, and sometimes that means…a Hawaiian shirt."
And vegetables?
Jana: "Of course. Those too."
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Photographed by Isaac Pritzker

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