Before their upcoming performance at Detroit’s El Club on Dec. 17, we sat down with Rebecca and Megan Lovell of blues-rock band Larkin Poe, who has produced soulful, gritty hits like “Black Betty,” “Look Away,” and “Jailbreak,” and has gained a celebrity fan-base that includes Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe. The Southern sisters dished about breaking the gender barriers of the music industry, their long-lost relative Edgar Allen Poe, and their new album, Venom & Faith, released in November.
Hour Detroit: What inspired you both to start your blues band; blues being a genre that isn’t pursued by many artists today, especially by female musicians?
Rebecca: We grew up in the South, specifically Atlanta, so the blues, bluegrass, and Americana were inevitably huge touchstones for us. To Megan and I, singing blues is returning to our roots — we’ve pursued different styles of music over the years and participated in a few collaborations. But this eight-year journey of being Larkin Poe … I think we’re finally producing American music, which has always been a goal for us.
As blues artists, do you feel a responsibility to modernize the genre?
Rebecca: The blues is very dear and near to our hearts and it’s not strongly represented by women. We feel that there’s this new resurgence that is taking place in support of the blues, a genre of American heritage that is truly a treasure. In consideration of that notion, we are trying to bring it into the 21st century and respectfully take it somewhere new.
And at the same time, you’re breaking down gender barriers?
Rebecca: There are so many strong stereotypes that are in place, especially regarding the entertainment industry. There are diva singers and male blues shudders — all of these archetypes that we want to do our best to shatter because people are not just little colored crayons in a box. We can be whatever it is that we choose to be.
How are you changing the music industry with the decisions you make, concerning your band image?
Rebecca: It’s certainly one of our goals to record and produce our albums independently, on top of handling our own social media — we want to be involved in the business of Larkin Poe. Showing people the importance of taking control of a situation, standing up and being strong, and chasing after what you believe in is our unspoken philosophy. We’re willing to shed the blood and the tears that it requires to put that vision across and to hopefully inspire others to dip their toes in their pool of creativity as well.
You’re relatives of Edgar Allan Poe — how did you find that out?
Megan: Both Rebecca and I read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe as kids, but it wasn’t until our teens that we found out we were related to him. Our family genealogist traced our ancestry and at a family reunion, she pulled out her findings and showed everybody that our great, great, great, great-grandfather Larkin Poe, whom we named our band after, was cousins with Edgar Allan Poe.
Has this relationship influenced your work?
Rebecca: I would say the flavor of Southern Gothic has informed our storytelling and songwriting in the way that we present our lyrics. We love his dark imagery and can’t help but have that filter in our own work as well.
How did you learn that you had celebrity fans like Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman?
Megan: For the last two years, we’ve been covering songs that we love for our video series, A Tip of the Hat. Some of our episodes became really popular and even went viral. Russell Crowe saw and shared a few our taped sessions over social media. He purchased a number of copies of our 2017 album, Peach, to pass out to celebrities like Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. Not too long after that, Keith Urban actually got in touch and that’s how we ended up on his Graffiti U World Tour this year.
Where did the sound and lyrics of your new album, Venom & Faith, come from?
Rebecca: I think we learned so much about ourselves and our own perseverance in the making of this record. All of the songs, except two or three on the album, were written while we were in the studio. Creating this record was definitely opening up a vein afresh for us. I think it’s a really accurate snapshot of where we are as artists in this moment.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF BETSY HAFKE
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