In 2013, The Mynabirds‘ Laura Burhenn was on tour with The Postal Service, was on the heels of touring for Generals, her last record, and having an insane amount of fun riding a wave of feeling great about life; “Generals was all about feeling empowered and self-assured, and then I went out with The Postal Service, the biggest and most exciting tour I’d ever done. Touring with them felt like a victory lap. It was an auspicious time in everybody’s life. Then i got back to Omaha, and suddenly the relationship that I was in, the longest, great love of my life, started unraveling, and it felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. I felt really lost and uncertain about what I was supposed to be doing next, so I put my dog in the car and we drove around the U.S. twice. I wanted to allow myself to feel even more lost. I finally ended up in Los Angeles and started writing these songs. Generals, like I said, was about feeling self-assured and about knowing, and this record, even though it is called Lovers Know, is very much about not knowing anything,” says Burhenn. Lovers Know, The Mynabirds’ third LP, was released on August 7th via Saddle Creek Records.
It’s amazing what beauty can be created from the ashes of heartbreak. Lovers Know, which Burhenn affectionately refers to as an ode to the golden era of creating 90’s R&B mixtapes, is sonically different than the last last record; its celestial tone and dreaminess were inspired by her admiration for artists like Kate Bush, Portishead, and Sinead O’Connor: “Lyrically, I wanted to try to be was honest and vulnerable as I’ve ever been. I was working with a new producer who really challenged me to say exactly what I was feeling; he would tell me ‘Quit hiding behind the metaphor. Just say that you mean.’ I was afraid it was going to sound dumb or trite. In Sinead’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which was actually written by Prince, she repeats ‘nothing compares to you’ over and over again, it’s such simple thing, but sometimes that’s what we need to say or what we need to hear when we’re totally heartbroken,” Burhenn explains. “I didn’t want to try to color it or make it pretty, it’s sad and it’s difficult, dammit.” She admits that making this album was an intensely therapeutic process; music has always been expressionistic for her, even as a little kid writing music at age seven. “I don’t think I would have even made it through my teenage years without music,” Burhenn says.
She recently released the roller coaster-centric video for the anthemic album single “Wildfire,” a collaboration with the Dirty Girls Project; “That song is about finding your people and enjoying life to the fullest degree. Ultimately we decided to make the video about a girl gang; it’s about helping each other through dark times and about taking care of each other,” she says, adding, “Truth be told, I’ve been terrified of roller coasters my entire life, and have never really ridden one. For me, it was like roller coaster therapy, all about facing your fears, and we decided that that had to be a part of the video. It was hilarious, because I was genuinely afraid. There are five year olds on the roller coaster and I’m there losing my mind.”
Before forming The Mynabirds, Burhenn was a solo artist, a member of bands like Georgie James and The Postal Service, and even founded a record able. She has some words of wisdom for girls out there trying to make it in the world: “Don’t quit. If it’s something you love, don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do it. I was thinking about it a lot when I was making this record. This is the third Mynabirds record, I’ve been doing it since 2010. I remember when the first record came out, I was in New York and I got to be in a photo spread with these other up-and-coming artists; I was there with Bethany Cosentino from Best Coast, all these amazing women who kind of started about the same time as I did, and they’re doing world tours and all these great things. It’s never good to compare yourself, you know, and I kind of laughed to myself and was like, ‘you know what? If I end up being the story of ‘The Little Engine That Could,’ keep going, don’t stop, just keep doing your thing and being true to yourself, I’ll be really proud of that.’ Don’t let the outside world tell you what you can or cannot do, you do you. That’s when you’ll be happiest and most fulfilled.”
The Mynabirds are currently on tour with another blog favorite, Minneapolis indie rockers Bad Bad Hats: