Lowertown is on the road. Specifically, Olivia Osby and Avsha Weinberg are traveling from their adopted city of New York to suburban Atlanta, where the duo first met in high school. Five years later, the lo-fi indie-folk band are returning home a bonafide success, with unanimous approval from tastemaker critics in their rearview and a debut album on the horizon. And while this 14-hour ride will soon end, the journey to Lowertown is far from over. 


In fact, this is not the first formative road trip for Olivia and Avsha. After meeting in a sophomore math class, the two bonded over a mutual love of jazz. Classical pianist Avsha, a first-generation Israeli immigrant, had conservatory aspirations. Olivia spent her formative years writing poetry, feeding melodic snippets to a small but devoted online following. When they decided to become a band, the best friends were in Canada visiting Olivia’s relatives. Driving her grandparents’ stereo-free car, they were forced to play Chet Baker via phone in a cup holder. Later, Avsha would play Olivia the demos he had recorded in his makeshift basement studio.  “I don’t like my voice but you would sound really awesome on these,” he said. 


For a painfully-shy 16-year-old Olivia, this was a call-to-arms. Their first night recording as Lowertown consisted mostly of Avsha coaxing Olivia’s voice (“I couldn’t sing in front of him, I ended up crying, ‘Please don’t make me,’” she remembers). Even contending with paralyzing self-conscientiousness, Olivia laid down compelling vocals: throaty, raw and ever-so-slightly off-tempo. “George,” a hauntingly nuanced dissection of youth produced, mixed and mastered by the then 16-year-old musicians, would become one of Lowertown’s most successful songs to date. 


“Olivia’s start in poetry had a huge influence over our music,” says Avsha. “That has been one thing that has stayed consistent in the music: allowing the lyrics to move with the music the way Olivia feels. It’s interesting to have the words decide the rhythm rather than a traditional guitar or drum.”


For a pair of highschoolers, the band’s initial success was unprecedented. Almost every Lowertown offering is anchored by a near-naked guitar progression, as emotionally evocative as Olivia’s soul-baring lyrics. They signed with Dirty Hit before graduation and quickly amassed millions of organic listens on their debut project, Friends. Operating within a genre mostly dominated by men, it was difficult for the female-fronted teen duo to find their footing.


“It was trial by fire,” says Olivia, revealing the pair struggled to find artists willing to appear on the same billing as Lowertown. “It taught us to work hard regardless of people’s opinions of us, and treat everyone around us with respect. We’ve also learned how to do everything ourselves at a young age.”


Increasingly isolated, Lowertown doubled-down on their self-sufficiency. Olivia, a keen visual artist to boot, designs zines to accompany the band’s releases, as well as their artwork, merch and tour fliers (an outlet that prevents creative burn out). While they recently traversed to London to work with Catherine Marks of St. Vincent fame, the pair are still heavily involved in their own production. Their 2021 offering, The Gaping Mouth, found fans in The Guardian for its “songwriterly elegance” while The Fader praised the band’s “devilish sense of humor.” Now, their genre contemporaries cite the duo as inspiration.


“Starting the band, we knew what we wanted to present aesthetically and sonically,” shares Avsha. “We wanted to push our vision and if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work. But this is what we’re bringing to the table and this is what we want to do ‘til the end.”


I Love To Lie, the duo’s debut album, is their most varied artistic output yet. The likes of “Antibiotics” conjures visions of long bus rides, pressing one’s head against cool glass as the countryside flashes by – somehow both nostalgic and nouveau. “My Friends” overhauls this image entirely, violently provocative in a clashing homage to early emo, while “Bucktooth” is Bikini Kill-reminiscent with its pop-punk politicism. “No Way” is the underdog’s anthem, a barbed portrait of youthful dissonance and disappointment. There’s even a waltz – a hark to Avsha’s classical roots – no doubt the wedding song of choice when Gen Z comes of age. While they once insisted on non-traditional song structure – forever fearing an inane return from verse to chorus – they’ve since “reeled it in,” favoring coherence over chaos.


These artistic decisions not only reflect their evolving capabilities, but confidence, shares Olivia. Long gone are the days she would cringe over her ultra-vulnerable lyricism, or unique vocal fry. Finally getting the opportunity to tour and meet their loyal fans in person has also served as “proof of Lowertown’s progress.” It’s the major music milestones like these that have, for the first time, shifted the band’s focus from the future. Even though the destination is still to be determined, Lowertown is determined to enjoy the ride.


“I just want each album to feel good or better than the last,” says Olivia. “I want to keep surprising people and pushing the weirdness of the music. Hopefully, they’ll stick with us.”


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