So, How Was Your Decade is a series in which the decade’s most innovative musicians answer our questionnaire about the music, culture and memorable moments that shaped their decade. We’ll be rolling these pieces out throughout December.
Indie-rock prodigy Lindsey Jordan began the 2010s at a young age. “I’m going from 10 years old to 20 here,” she laughs over the phone from Brooklyn. Growing up in suburban Maryland, Jordan formed her band Snail Mail at 15 and released the EP Habit one year later. After signing with Matador Records, she dropped her critically acclaimed debut Lush in 2018 — 10 great tracks with searing guitar riffs and minimal, gut-wrenching lyrics. “I’m feeling low/I’m not into sometimes,” she repeats on the stunner “Heat Wave.”
Jordan toured Lush extensively into last summer, recently supporting fellow Matador acts Interpol and Car Seat Headrest. She reflects on her success over the decade, including when she graduated high school and quickly catapulted into one of the most beloved indie-rock musicians of the era. She also shares that she’s currently working on a follow-up to Lush: “It’s still very much in progress,” she says, “But it’s definitely my best work by far.”
My favorite album of the 2010s was: I’m gonna say the 1975’s self-titled. I fuck with that band. I discovered it kind of late in the game. I wasn’t like an original 1975 fan, but I just think the songwriting is really sincere and beautiful. I also think that they are really unique stylistically and … I don’t know, it’s very emo for pop music. It just does it for me. I really like their live show. I love music that’s emotionally vulnerable, but it’s also, like, pop. I love a catchy melody. I think it’s just one of the few albums that have stuck with me really hard and I kind of just always revisit.
My favorite song of the 2010s was: “Gladly” by Tirzah but I also want to say “Cellophane” by FKA Twigs. I’m gonna call it a tie. The Tirzah song I really love; that album [2018’s Devotion] would be my dead ringer for second place. I love that it’s so minimal and emotional, a unique perspective. She has a family and it’s really heartfelt and beautiful, and it strikes a specific emotional chord for me. I don’t know what it is or how; it just does. I don’t really know much about producing music or making pop music. I don’t know if I’d call it pop music, but the way the production on that record sounds is really inspiring to me. That song holds a really special place in my heart.
And then “Cellophane” by FKA Twigs is just so heartbreaking in a way that really connected with me. I love that the lyrics are really simple and repetitive but really powerful and the visuals that have come with this album [2019’s Magdalene] are insane. I listen to it every time I’m … well, I listen to it every day [Laughs]. But it fucks me up extra when I’m sad.
The artist who had the best decade was: Frank Ocean.
The craziest thing that happened to me in the 2010s was: Touring in Asia and having fans in Jakarta. Selling out shows in places where I would never have been able to travel to before and having people sing the words back; people who don’t primarily speak English. It’s really crazy.
My least favorite trend in music this decade was: Maybe that time when that Tumblr-style of singing was popping off. Like Birdy covering “Skinny Love.” And it being called cafe music. Like sensitive, tapping-on-the-guitar coffee shop covers, using the guitar as a bongo. August Rush-style guitar playing. Because I think café music should have been Regina Spektor [and] Norah Jones. But then it turned into acoustic Halsey covers. I guess it kind of continued to happen, but I don’t really think it like flies as much as it used to.
The TV show I couldn’t stop streaming in the 2010s was: Euphoria. You should watch it; it’s fucking insane. I guess I watched it while it was coming out, so it was like every week. But I did rewatch it all in a binge style.
The best new slang term of the decade was: Calling something that’s ugly or bad “boof.”
The most surprising encounter I had with a fellow artist this decade was: We played a secret show one time with Snoop Dogg and Bon Iver. Justin Vernon curated it, and I was really shocked and happy to find out that we were one of his favorite bands, because, I mean, if we’re talking about decades, I think his music was one of the greatest this generation has seen. I’ve been listening to it and been in awe of it since I was 13. And it was maybe my intro to indie music or getting into alternative stuff.
So just finding out we were one of his favorite bands; it wasn’t a starstruck moment. I just think that it doesn’t really register for me to see one of the people that I genuinely look to for fellow inspiration. It just doesn’t make any sense, ‘cause we’re such a fresh, new band. And then meeting someone who’s been inspiring me since I was like 13 and finding out he’s a genuine fan. It kind of messed me up for a couple days. Plus, Snoop Dogg was there.
The misstep I learned the most from in the 2010s was: I gave a lot of myself away. That’s really vague but I gave a lot of myself away on the last two years of touring. I said no to nothing. I did all this press and they got really personal in a lot of ways that I learned from, with fans and with press and … kind of just with everyone. Being that I was really inexperienced and young, I gave everyone everything and I was so open to everyone and everything and every experience and I think there’s something to be said for having some of yourself to go home to so that you don’t give yourself away. You don’t give all of yourself away every time.
The best book I read this decade was: I really like to read. I feel like I go through a book a week. Maybe Miriam Toews’ All My Puny Sorrows. I read it right after I graduated high school and it had a really crazy effect on the way I look at poetry and prose and how I go about making lyrics. I don’t know; that book just kind of got me into reading.
Something cool I did this decade that nobody noticed was: Jeez. I feel like people notice a lot of the things I do, whether I like it or not. I’m a pretty proficient roller skater. I got pretty good at that for no reason. Before high school ended and after I stopped playing ice hockey — because I played ice hockey most of my life — I was going to the roller rink all the time, trying to get really good at roller skating technique so that I could do roller derby when I turned 18. And we got signed when I was 17, so I was intensely training myself to become good at roller stating as a transition from ice hockey to roller derby, and then it was for nothing. But I am a really good roller skater. I was mastering the art for years. I do know my way around a pair of roller-skates, and I don’t think anybody noticed.
The best outfit I wore this decade was: Damn, that’s hard. I care about fashion a lot; I feel like I’ve been stepping my outfits up a lot. Post-touring, living in New York, I’ve just gotten really into my outfits. This is pretty good: I had on Proenza Schouler pants with Fendi cowboy boots on underneath and a crop top T-shirt of the publishing company that makes all our merch; it’s called Pomegranate Press. So there was like, lots of midriff. And then a black trench with a PS-1. So that was pretty good.
The most “2010s” moment of the 2010s was: Wow, dude. I think the most 2010s moment of the 2010s was when all that like, Kanye Donald Trump shit was happening. That shit was crazy. Especially since like, a lot of it happened on Twitter. Just like Kanye doing crazy shit and Donald Trump doing crazy shit and then lots of it connecting on Twitter. It’s fucking crazy. A rapper and a politician buddying up.
My biggest hope for the 2020s is: The most I can hope for is maybe Bernie Sanders in office and something is done to slow down climate change before we all die and none of us are allowed to have children.