Catching Up with Lucy Dacus and Fenne Lily

The friends talk ghost sightings, weird dreams, and bad boyfriends.

Lucy Dacus is a Richmond, Virginia-based singer-songwriter and one-third of the folk supergroup boygenius; Fenne Lily is Bristol, UK-based singer-songwriter whose album BREACH was released in September by Dead Oceans. For this phone call, the two friends set out to dive deep on their recent dreams, and ended up taking in much, much more. 
— Annie Fell, Talkhouse Senior Editor

Fenne Lily: Before this call, I was just looking you up. Is that weird? 

Lucy Dacus: You were listening to my music? 

Fenne: Yeah!

Lucy: That’s so funny, I was listening to your music. “I, Nietzsche.”

Fenne: [Laughs.] You actually were one of the many reasons why I broke up with the guy that that song is about.

Lucy: Oh, my god, I didn’t like him at all.

Fenne: Do you remember? It was literally the first time I met you, pretty much, or maybe the second time. I was with him and he tried to pull me out of the conversation because he wanted to go home or something — probably to read Nietzsche. And you were like, “Don’t touch my girl like that.” And I was like, Lucy Dacus just called me her girl, and I need to leave this boy. [Laughs.]

Lucy: I felt quickly defensive of you. We had hardly met, but he was just acting so brutish. It was like, Damn, who is this guy? It was so brutish that I thought maybe you didn’t even know him, but then you were like, “No, I’m actually with him.” 

Fenne: Yeah, he’s been inside me. [Laughs.] I mean, you’re someone who makes good decisions, so you’re probably not going to answer this with a yes, but have you ever been with someone that you’re like, “I can’t believe that I gave them my body, and my heart.”

Lucy: Yeah, I am easily disgusted by the idea of some of the people that I used to really have tenderness for. But then I realize, that was not a bad quality, to be able to find good things about a bad person. Even that’s tough, to call someone just a straight up bad person, but someone that I really don’t like now, I try not to be like, I’m such an idiot. That was just a part of growing, realizing that just because they have a couple good qualities doesn’t mean that they have to be my life partner. 

Fenne: Yeah, I mean, I like to think of the really bad relationships I’ve been in as, like, an exercise in compassion, to an extent where now retrospectively I can see that they were manipulating me. But at the time, I was so ready to be like, You’re just an injured soul and you need a safe place, and I can be that place. But that should only be for a time. And I think I’ve definitely seen people in those relationships for a long time and it starts wearing away at them, and the way that you see yourself like personally. So as much it’s a practice in being able to see past someone’s bad qualities, I know that there’s a cutoff point for that. But yeah, thanks for protecting me. [Laughs.]

Lucy: Yeah, I think that was actually after I went through my long, drawn out, like, worst relationship. And I think that since then, I’ve been overly defensive probably. Or I just love my friends so much that I feel like nobody deserves them, and I’m just like, and I’m just like, “Go away!” to most people that my friends date. That’s not totally true, but it’s like a recurring feeling. But yeah, I hardly knew you so I was probably overstepping a bound by trying to defend you.

Fenne: It made my heart soar, and I honestly felt safe. But you have that lyric that goes, “You don’t deserve what you don’t respect,” and I always kind of thought that you were singing about yourself, but maybe you’re singing generally about people that you love also.

Lucy: Yeah, I definitely thought it about other people first, because it’s easier to defend other people than yourself. And then I realize, I should take my own advice, but I’m still not so good at that. But I think I’m better at it.

Fenne: Do you ever find yourself writing yourself as a character so that you can make clearer judgments on your own shit? Like, do you ever make yourself the third person so you can be like, “Lucy should do this.” 

Lucy: A lot of people I know great as a character, but I have no such self-control. I definitely wish that I could write it as an exercise, but writing often just feels sort of like throwing up. You know what I mean? All of a sudden it’s just there, and you don’t necessarily want it to be there, an inconvenience. And I don’t really know what I’m saying until the song is written. Like, I would really love to be able to say, like, Oh, I’d like to process this event in my life, or this thought, — I will make art about it. But that has never been a skill. I feel like all my songs start as subconscious vomit.

Fenne: I agree. I thought you were going to go the opposite direction, because as a person, you seem like someone who thinks before they speak and considers the weight and the repercussions of what they’re saying. So it’s interesting that your process doesn’t reflect what I see in your character, in that sense.

Lucy: I think it’s easier to talk to other people than to myself. I think that I carry a weight of, like, you know, say-what-you-mean when I’m talking to other people, but I don’t have a practice of talking like that to myself. So it’s just kind of forced upon me sometimes, that I end up talking to myself through writing a song. Is that how you write? Do you actually sit down and say, “I’m going to write about this,” and then you write a song about what you intend to write about? 

Fenne: No, I have very little foresight or planning or structure to any part of my life, and it is definitely affecting the way I work. I literally get to the point where I haven’t written in so long that I’m furious at myself for not doing anything. And I sit down, and it is like word vomit. I’m like, Something’s coming out, I’m just going to let it happen, because if I don’t, it might never happen again. And often, I’m writing and I don’t know why I’m writing from the perspective I’m writing from. 

At the moment I am in a relationship that I am really comfortable in, and he makes me feel brilliant most of the time, I still feel these inexplicable periods of sadness that almost make me feel guilty, because he obviously sees me going through this and maybe thinks it’s a reflection on him. And often those are the feelings that come out when I’m writing. I think it’s a hangover from being a kid and being unable to talk about how I feel to my family, despite the fact that they’re really emotionally intelligent people and completely up fo talking about feelings, I was almost rebelling against that. So I started writing at that time because I literally couldn’t get out my feelings in any other way. I feel like I still do that, where I’m subconsciously storing up fuel to then speak to myself about songs, rather than having to vocalize it in words. So it’s never a case of being like, I’m gonna write a song about global warming — although now that I’ve said that, maybe I should do that. [Laughs.]

Lucy: I feel like it’s really rare to write about topical things and have it actually be good. I have some family members who are just like, “You should really write a song about everything that’s going on in these uncertain times!” And I’m just like, no. I just feel like my perspective isn’t necessary — just, like, as a white person, I simply don’t need to be taking up space. I’m grateful I have a platform that I can put other voices onto, with the literal easiest thing ever of resharing things.   

But yeah, I think it could be useful for you to do a song about global warming, I hope you end up writing one. That’d be awesome. But don’t be tacky — it’s weird to be like, Oh, this is topical. It just it ends up feeling really tacky, I think, as a listener.

Fenne: I think to an extent, everything that I’ve written during this pandemic situation… I haven’t written a lot, I’ve feeling really unconnected to myself, and the world, and feeling really weird. But in a sense, everything that you’re writing is about the fucked up stuff that’s going on, even if it’s not directly preaching. I feel like the way you and I write is naturally diaristic, and doesn’t feel completely separate from the stuff that’s going on. You’re quite a permeable person emotionally, I think, and I definitely am. It’s inescapable that outside stuff is inevitably going to become part of the material, even if you if you don’t say, “Trump” and “Brexit” and the whole thing.

But you’re right. I mean, I’m dreading next year when all these quarantine albums come out, where all the songs are going to be called like, “Masked and Alone,” and “My Wifi’s Too Slow.”  Have you been writing a lot during this period, or have you been feeling a bit dead?

Lucy: I actually have been writing a lot because, I think I end up writing to escape the present and to not think about the future. I feel like most of my creative life comes from the past. Thinking about the future is scary and living in the present is scary, and the past is certain, it can’t be changed. It’s static. I journal, so I’ve been rereading my journals and kind of remembering some emotional things that I haven’t really put to rest yet, and so that’s just kind of ending up being what I’m writing about right now. And then I might write about what’s happening in the year 2020 in, like, 2025. Do you ever have a dialogue about where you’re writing about something like many years after?

Fenne: Yeah, 100 percent. This record that I just released, when I first started writing for it, it [was] really important for me to reflect the growth that I feel I’ve experienced since the first album came out. That was kind of my first thing — I was like, I need to almost prove that I changed, if not just to myself, to people that are listening to the music. 

And then as I started writing, there was a lot of stuff coming up. I was having these conversations with my mum about why I always feel angry rather than sad as my go-to feeling, and how I always feel panicky very fast. And she was telling me that when I was born, I didn’t have that big intake of breath that normal births provide — I was a cesarean, I just got cut out — and she was like, “For the first year of the life, you were crying if you weren’t held and you were always in pain and your spine was all weird and you just were not comfortable in your skin.” That was so interesting to hear that, because I genuinely feel like I haven’t really changed that much from how I came into the world. I definitely think there’s something to be said for your entrance into the world influencing how you exist in that world. So as much as I’m like, I really want to write about being 21, I feel like I also want to talk about being two again. It wasn’t a conscious thing, but it happened. 

But you’re right about the past, it isn’t going to change, and thinking about the future is really scary, especially when — I don’t know how the rules are changing in the states, but especially here, it’s like we’re being run by children. It’s like “You can do what you want! Oh, no, those people died. Well, that’s a shit. Maybe we should stay inside again. Oh, no, that hasn’t worked.” No one knows what’s going on and to even try and get your head around what it’s going to be like in a week or year is impossible. And that makes you feel powerless, and then that makes Lucy: Have you been having any of weird dreams during lockdown?

Fenne: The first couple of weeks I didn’t have any dreams. I think I was still in a state of shock, where I was like, This doesn’t feel normal. I almost [felt] like when you smoke too much weed, and your waking mind is going crazy, and then when you go to sleep, your body’s like, I literally can’t do it any more crazy anymore

That was my brain for a while, but then come week three or four, I started having terrifying — like, not even apocalyptic dreams, just dreams when nothing was right. I had those, like. “running on the spot trying to get away from something but I couldn’t,” just really visceral, realistic horror dreams. I don’t know when they stopped, but it was dark for a bit. What about you?

Lucy: I think similarly in the beginning, I wasn’t having a lot of dreams. I did have this one dream about me and a lot of friends touring this big, kind of mansion-like house that was furnished.  And they were like, “Oh, look, there’s a room over here, I found a new room!” And we were all just running around, like, laughing and loving this huge house. So I woke up and I was like, You know what, I’m just going to get on Zillow and see if there’s a big place that I could just fit my fantasy into. And there was this place that was listed, like, three days prior, and it looked so similar to the house of my dream. So I called my friends that were in the dream and I was like, “Hey, do you want to move in together? I just had this dream and I found this house and we were all in it together.” And that actually happened in July, like I live in the house with the people that were in the dream

Fenne: Oh, my god, that’s amazing. 

Lucy: Did you feel you were psychic ever?

Fenne: Stupid stuff, like I predicted my brother’s birth. I was sitting with my mom on the stairs of old house, and I was, like, one and a half or two. I was like, “It’s going to be a brother, I think,” or something like that. And she was like, “What are you talking about?” And I put my hand on her tummy and said, “It’s going to be a brother, but it’s a sister I had in mind.” And she was like, “That was weird,” and then she went to get a pregnancy test and she was a month pregnant.

Lucy: Oh, wow. I thought you were saying like, “My mom was pregnant, so I predicted that she would have a baby.”

Fenne: No, like straight up, she had no idea.

Lucy: That’s much more impressive.

Fenne: She didn’t tell me for a long time — maybe until I was 15 I didn’t know, because she was like, “I don’t want to give her false power, I don’t want her to think that everything she has a feeling about is going to happen.” 

But I think I go through certain areas where I get a bad feeling and try and squash it if I don’t know anything about it, and then it’s proven to me that I was right. I moved into this really spooky house… when I first moved to Bristol I was in shared houses, and then I was like, I really want a place to live with a couple of friends. We were looking somewhere and we, in the process, got kicked out of our existing houses, so we had to rush finding a place. We settled on this house that was enormous and really cheap, and we didn’t know why it was so cheap but we didn’t really think about it. 

When we first went to view it, I was like, This feels wrong. Something about the energy of this house is not nice. It doesn’t feel like we’re welcome here. And I told my friend, and he was like, “Well, we don’t really have the chance to be picky right now, and we don’t have any money.” So we moved in, and then a couple of weeks after we moved in I was sitting outside — we signed on for a year, so we couldn’t get out even if we wanted to. I was sitting outside the house and the next door neighbor talking to me, and we were chatting and she was like, “Do you know the story behind the house you just moved into?” I was like, “No, but please tell me because I don’t like it.” And basically, about 10 years ago, maybe less, this family next door, who still lives next door, the dad in the family shot some guy because they were in warring gangs — I live in a really rough bit of Bristol. He shot this guy and tried to hide the body in the basement of the house that we live in now, and then he tried to escape to the States, and his wife bought him the ticket — they both went down for a long time, and the kids were in care. Now the woman’s out of jail and she’s living next door with the kids. So I was like, “There’s been a dead body in my house.” And I feel like I knew that something was wrong and I ignored it, and then ever since that point, I had to live there for another 11 months. And I had all my practice equipment in the basement, I’d made it into a room where we could record, and then it just didn’t feel good from that point on. I didn’t want to go downstairs. 

Lucy: If you felt good, I’d be really concerned. [Laughs.] I do feel like people like haunted houses sometimes, like some people really get into that. I don’t understand it. I feel like you can only be into it if you haven’t truly been affected by the haunting of the house.

Fenne: It’s the kind of thing that you want to go into for a trip, but t you don’t want to really live there. I don’t know about you, and I will ask you, but I didn’t really think I was that much of a believer in ghosts for a pretty long time, and then I was listening to this podcast where people tell real stories from their lives — it’s not scripted at all, at least that’s what they say. There’s so many stories of people moving into a house, getting a weird feeling, and then their kid start talking to ghosts. Some of the stories are so visceral and so complicated and so obviously made me see that there is another world that I haven’t personally come into contact with, but why would we not? Have you had ghost experiences? 

Lucy: Oh, yeah, more recently. I feel like I’ve heard from friends that the more you open yourself up to it, the more that it comes to you. I feel like I was just kind of closed off for a really long time. Even that podcast, I’d have been like, “Oh, good stories,” like whether that’s true or not, it doesn’t really matter. But having had your own experiences and having friends tell you stories — it’s really hard to refute someone you care about saying like, “This happened,” or something happening in your life. I’ve seen and heard things that I can’t explain, and I don’t know if it’s ghosts, but certainly something has happened that is completely unreasonable and inexplicable.

I do feel like they have sort of an architectural tone — you know, like haunting, need a place for it, and I do feel like there are some places that I’ve had, like, weird experiences that feel kind of supernatural. I think that once I realized, like, Oh, this is real, life is just kind of… The possibility has been there, so more of it has just come into my life. Not really as much right now — like the house we moved into should absolutely be haunted, but I don’t think that it is. There is sort of a weird energy — and anybody should laugh at me for talking about it this way, probably — but like, the energy is benevolent. If this is a haunted house, it’s a chill ghost.

Fenne: I think there’s no reason to not think that the energy of the previous people in a place affect it. Even if you don’t think a ghost is like an actual vision of a person, an exact replica of that exact person, I definitely think some places have bad vibes, some places have good vibes. But you can’t change the feeling in a place. When I moved into my current place, it was trash — the people that lived here before that burned the carpets up and left all their furniture here, and there were scrapes on the walls and stuff, and, like, everything was painted black. It was so weird. And again, I was poor and didn’t have much choice. So I moved in by myself and made it really nice with my best friend, and actually hung a picture of your face on the wall — that’s one of the first things I did, and I think that really helped.

But then I was broken into when I was on tour, and they stole all my merch money, which was a huge blow, and my laptop which had all my demos on it. So I went back to the house and the whole feeling had completely changed. And I worked very hard to not let this be a negative place for me, and I feel like that’s just been completely invaded and disrupted. And I obviously was scared as well, so I just got three of my best friends to live with me for a month, just to reset the feeling. And it worked.

I mean, you know as well as anyone that music isn’t particularly lucrative when you’re in the beginning stages of it, and a grand in cash will see you through two months. And that was not possible because… I don’t know, I hope that it was someone that needed it a lot, because I don’t like thinking it was just some guy that was like, “You know what, I’m pissed and I want stuff.” But I think as a person, I generally kind of revert to running away from stuff that is bad. So I think if I hadn’t really thought about it and wanted to stay in this place, I would have just moved. 

Lucy: I don’t know if I told you, but I was robbed in May of this year, during quarantine. So, yeah, I’m really sorry that happened to you. I have a whole new, you know, knowing what it feels like. I was actually in the house, and I woke up at 5AM and heard — but I have such a creative mind, to put it lightly, where often I’ll hear things and be like, Oh, that’s the absolute worst thing that could possibly be. And I think like that all the time, so I know not to let it take hold over my thoughts. 

So I woke up at 5 and was like, Oh, it sounds like people are in the kitchen opening the window, and well, they’re probably gone if they are, and probably they aren’t even there in the first place. I’m gonna go back to sleep. But then I went downstairs and someone had taken my wallet and a laptop and all of the booze in the house, and some other trinkets. Luckily nothing so bad — we had guitars around, and the guitars weren’t taken. One time I was robbed and someone stole my journals of three years, like all my journals of my whole college experience before I dropped out, and that’s the worst. That still hurts so much, not having those years documented.

But yeah, I did move. That dream I had about a new house, it was the old house that got broken into, and then we moved to this house. I feel a lot safer, but I definitely felt like, on top of feeling isolated and not leaving the house — like literally not even going onto the porch for a long time — I just dissociated for like a month and a half, basically June and the beginning of July. 

I don’t know, I think a lot of people are going through things like that, and the general state of life is so fragile that when negative events come into life, it just feels kind of harder to recover. But I definitely I feel a lot better now. Do you feel any better in your house?

Fenne: I do, although it was a while ago. But yeah, just imagining that feeling — I wasn’t in. I was abroad, so I had to wait like a week to get back. But I can’t imagine knowing. You knew something was up, but you convinced your brain that it was just doing that thing that it does, and being in and being invaded in that way. That’s fucked.

It just hurt me so deeply that you had your journals stolen — that’s like taking a chunk of someone’s whole brain. And they don’t have any use for that stuff. Like the way that I was trying to frame the break in when it happened was like, OK, that’s cash, that’s a laptop. If they need them, those will provide for them in some way. But I was almost like, Why couldn’t they have left my memory stick with my demos on it? Because that wouldn’t benefit them. They took a packet of photographs, which was, like old family photos. 

But there is so much bad, life ruining stuff happening at the moment anyway. And granted, it happens always, and I do think that the BLM protests in Bristol came right at the perfect point where everybody was angry about how we are being governed as a country, generally, through the corona stuff. And then the BLM stuff came at a time where everyone was so ready to be unhappy with the way that the world is run.

It was almost like, I’m aware that racism hasn’t just arrived overnight, and everyone was just like, “Oh, no, racism exists.” But it happened at a time when everyone was really open to the possibility that stuff is bad still, and we really need to make an effort as a community to change that.

I mean, this is completely unrelated to the health stuff, but there are so much bad, bad shit going on, and it’s a conscious decision to, daily, allow it to come in in a way that you can process in a positive way. It’s just so easy to doomscroll and be like, Fuck, this is really bad. You need to kind of police yourself as to when you let that stuff in, because it’s so easy to just constantly be tapped into this modern hellscape. 

I recently got locked out of Instagram for no real reason, and initially I was like, Damn, that’s where I get all my stuff from. And then I was like, Actually, this is great for me because I can focus on the closest things to me and how to change the things that I can change. And not just think that the big picture is unattainable and so badly ruined that I don’t feel like I have the power to change anything.

Lucy: So maybe just to close, we can each tell a recent dream that we had. 

Fenne: Weirdly, when you said that we should talk about dreams for our theme, I just typed in “dreams” in my notes on my phone, and I screenshotted a bunch of them, but two of them are so, so similar that it freaked me out, firstly, and then I realized that they’re exactly a year apart.

Lucy: Woah, that it so weird.

Fenne: The second one was when I was in Chicago recording, and the first one was a year before that.

So the first one, all I’ve written is, “Dream: Breastfeeding on a beach thinking, This would make a beautiful photo. Shiny sticker, little Game Boy, tiny nipples, holding hands while a wave rolls over.” And then the second bit is, “Nana is hosting a Halloween party. Me getting skateboard advice from a kind, kind man.” 

I would like to pay the main attention to the breastfeeding part and the Halloween part, because exactly a year later in Chicago — I think around the time I was seeing a guy over there from Tinder, who was a skateboarder, so that’s kind of cool too. So the Chicago dream is, “Mum pregnant, me also pregnant. Letter writing to get better in school. Buying Halloween costumes with tall people and a beautiful woman on a minimum wage budget. Didn’t go for the white outfit.” And then the last line is,”Pour whiskey in my ear to unblock me, please.” [Laughs.] 

Lucy: [Laughs.] Do you type these as soon as you wake up? 

Fenne: Yeah, so they’re literally just key bits. I like to think I’m quite a stable person who’s got q handle on how they deal with their feelings, but it seems that there’s a lot of breastfeeding, pregnancy, weird kind of mom-daughter problem stuff that maybe I need to work through. And Halloween seems to be something I hold close to my heart, strangely.

What’s your most recent weird one? 

Lucy: I almost never have any sort of, like, motherhood type of dreams. I mean, I’m also adopted and have pretty much no desire to ever be pregnant, so I guess I my subconscious just doesn’t complain. Like, Yes, that is true.

I’ve been having a lot of dreams set in Russia, which is a complicated setting because, as I said, I’m adopted, and my parents told me I was Russian when I was growing up. Actually when I turned 18, I got my file and found out that I’m genetically Uzbek, like from Uzbekistan, so not Russia. I took two years of Russian in high school to get connected to that part of myself, and then it’s like, I’m not even Russian. 

So I’ve been having all these dreams set in Russia, and I had one a few days ago where the entire staff of Matador was swimming up an icy river and Rennie [Jaffe], who is both of our managers, and everyone that works at Matador was swimming up an icy river — freezing, and like chunks of ice floating by — because we were on our way to a show. We really wanted to see this girl sing. 

Only four of us survived: Me, [Matador founder] Chris Lombardi, and Rian Fossett, and Malcolm Donaldson, who all work at Matador. We get to the shore and the promoters are there and they’re like, “Hey, we have blankets for you, thanks for making the trip, we know it’s such a hassle getting here. We have vodka and we have tea and blankets and heaters in this trailer, and we’re so happy you can make it.” And they have this little trailer set up next to this sports stadium where the show is going to be. They bring in the girl who they’re scouting, I guess to sign, and she’s so nervous. I’m trying to talk to her an be like, OK, it’s gonna be OK, you know, I was happy when Matador reached out to me, I think it’ll be fine, you seem really sweet.” We listened to her record, and the first song was the most beautiful song I’d ever heard. You know in a dream where you wake up and can’t remember what it was, but you know in the dream the supreme beauty was apparent to you? We all cried and were like, “We’re just honored to be here with you, you’re going to be a star,” everyone was so emotional. And then a couple of songs in, we were still liking it, but towards the end of the record, everyone got really bored and tired. So in, like, 20 minutes, it was just this beautiful, elated feeling to everyone sort of unspokenly getting really tired of her voice, the most beautiful voice in the world. And she noticed, and I noticed, and it was clear that everyone kind of just wanted to go. like when a party has gone on too long. She just started crying, and I just wanted to say, “I don’t know how to explain it, the feeling just left.”

And that was the dream, where I just had to console the best musician in the entire world that everyone just labeled not engaging enough. 

Fenne: At the beginning of this dream, I thought the main part of it was — because this is way more detailed than I remember anything, like even real life — when you said that only only a few of you made it, I was like, Is this icy river a metaphor for the long road to being able to do shows again? And that a lot of people that we work with will just die after the market being ruined? But that’s so, so sad!

Lucy: I felt grief when I woke up. I have this problem where I wake up from dreams and I feel so deeply for everyone that I met in the dream. I thought about her the rest of the day, where I really felt bad for her even though she was a figment of my imagination. Like I had such sympathy for her position, and I really couldn’t understand and wanted to understand why we didn’t keep loving her music. I don’t know, it felt like something dark and sad going on there. 

Fenne: Oof. I want to meet her. I want to climb in your brain and meet her. 

Lucy: I could draw her. I wake up from dreams and I could tell you all of the architecture, I could tell you the fabric on the furniture and what makeup people are wearing, and shoes people are wearing. A lot of info.

Fenne: For a split second when I wake up, it’s like that, but yeah. There’s an artist called [Zdzisław] Beksiński — he trained as an architect and then he became a photographer, and then eventually he became this incredible painter, and his paintings inspired, like, black metal artwork. It’s like a lot of huge, imposing buildings draped in flesh, spiderwebs, and they’re beautiful because of how intricate they are, and they kind of glow. But he said that often he’d have the idea that — it’s not a theme, but it’s actually the picture itself, and then he replicated from this picture in his brain. So maybe you should go into Russian hellscape painting. [Laughs.]

Lucy Dacus is a singer and songwriter who emerged from the thriving indie rock scene of Richmond, Virginia, in the mid-2010s. She sports a buttery voice that commands both her thoughtful rock tunes and more intimate confessionals. Born and raised in Mechanicsville just outside of Richmond, her mother was a music teacher, and Dacus grew up singing. She began writing regularly via journaling in the sixth grade, and attended concerts, connecting with the Richmond music scene throughout high school. After graduating, she tried studying film at Virginia Commonwealth University with a plan to make music on the side, but soon dropped out and concentrated on writing songs. Her debut was put together relatively last-minute when a friend who worked at Starstruck Studio in Nashville let her know they had an open day. She had assembled a band from area musicians in guitarist Jacob Blizard, bass player Christine Moad, and drummer Hayden Cotcher, and the songs, which had been written solo, were arranged for the quartet in the week leading up to a ten-hour recording session. The friend at the studio, Collin Pastore, engineered and mixed the album, which was co-produced by Dacus, Pastore, and Blizard. Richmond label Egghunt Records took interest in the results and released No Burden in early 2016. The album quickly received buzz in the indie music press, and the band did an Audiotree Live session in March that was released as a digital EP. That June, 21-year-old Dacus announced she had signed with Matador Records, which reissued No Burden in September 2016.