Bomba de Luz's Lydia Hoglund on new album and Rhymesayers

Bomba de Luz's Lydia Hoglund on new album and Rhymesayers
Courtesy of Bomba de Luz

Assembled entirely of 17-year-olds from Central High School, the precocious Bomba de Luz are already on their second album, What a Heavy Weight. Spanning seven tracks and 31 minutes, it's a record rife with soaring alt-folk, due especially to frontlady Lydia Hoglund's Sharon Van Etten-evoking vocals and contemplative lyrics.

That said, it's best not to brand the band as having only one aesthetic, since Evan Slack's blazing guitar and Gavin Taylor and Jonas Taghavi's improv-deft rhythm section often lead to heavier, riff-based instrumental sections (see "Frontier" or the last two minutes of "Boots and Cats"). Apart from their charmingly immature listing of "Nascar," "Tig ol' Bitties (except Lydia isn't into that)," and "Beff Juckley" as influences, you'd hardly be able to tell these kids are all still without diplomas.

Ahead of Bomba's CD release party at Amsterdam Bar on Sunday, Gimme Noise spoke with Hoglund about the new album, her forthcoming Rhymesayers-related project, and more.

When did you start singing seriously?

Freshman year, I'd say, which was when I started writing songs. I wasn't in any choirs in middle school, though I did choir for one year, in sophomore year.

What inspired you to start writing songs?

It was kind of like an emotional outlet, like how it is for most people. I just wanted to figure out a way to get it all out. My family, nobody else is an instrumentalist or anything, but we've always listened to a lot of music, and I've always had music around me.

How does the band work during the summer versus during the school year?

During the summer we're way more open to practice, and we gig on regular weekday nights. It's way easier during the summer. But during the school year, a lot more people come to shows, since our high-school friends are really close and accessible.

The opening song on What a Heavy Weight is "Boots and Cats," which goes from bare acoustic guitar at the beginning to these pounding drums and a guitar solo at the end. It's probably my favorite song on the album, but it also feels sort of disjointed, like some parts weren't originally meant to be in the same song.

I think that song was just such a collaborative effort that it ended up having a lot of different things to it. We wanted to have a song that would change a lot within the course of it, because we felt like a lot of the songs had the same form to [them].

Most if not all of Bomba's shows so far have been in Minnesota. Do you have any out-of-state shows planned yet?

Not yet, but we've hired a booking agent to help us play more shows next summer. We'd like to play in Kansas.

The song "Frontier" feels like a very free piece of music, especially with how you're just singing away next to the bass line. Was much of that song improvised?

It was actually mostly improvised. We were doing a mic check, and I just started singing the melody. Then we took it from there.

It seems like most younger musicians have several projects going on at once. Is the band your only project right now or are you working on other things?

I'm working with a Rhymesayers rapper, who I can't name yet, and we're doing an entire project together. But it's mainly the band. [Ed note: It's P.O.S.]

For all kinds of reasons, lots of bands that form in high school or even earlier don't wind up lasting very long. Do you see yourself playing with Bomba for as long as you play music?

Yeah! I'm really lucky to be playing with these guys -- they're super-talented. I'd like to take it beyond high school, but we're all waiting to see where it goes.

Bomba de Luz album release show.  5 p.m. Sunday, July 29 at Amsterdam Bar & Hall. Click here.

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