Olivia Osby and Avsha Weinberg met in highschool math class. They sparked a friendship when Avsha looked over Olivia’s shoulder to see what music she was playing on her laptop, bonding over a shared love of Alex G and The Microphones. They traded influences, and eventually, demos, releasing their first ever single as Lowertown in 2018 before they’d graduated high school. “It was trial by fire,” remembers Olivia, the band’s distinct and off-kilter style initially proving to be an obstacle to fitting in on local bills, but their 2019 debut Friends set things in motion. Within a short period of the time the duo had signed to Dirty Hit, and hit the road supporting Wet Leg, quickly followed by a run with Porches, and a national tour with label mates and friends beabadoobee.
From the beginning, their approach to collaboration was shaped by their differing backgrounds. Olivia spent her formative years writing poetry, while Avsha took up classical piano at age 4. The interplay between Olivia’s intuitive approach and Avsha’s measured attention to detail is central to the sound of Lowertown. “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: the importance placed on the lyricism and message of the song”.
Across three albums, the band’s sound has expanded from their initial indie folk offerings to include flashes of electronica, jagged punk, and beautiful atmospherics. Mood has always been key to the sound of Lowertown, the singular interplay between Olivia & Avsha’s alternatingly raw and melodic vocals playing out over freeform songwriting that Pitchfork described as “fascinating.” On the band’s latest EP, Skin of My Teeth, they continue to sharpen their hooks without losing the idiosyncratic charm that’s made them so compelling. Notably, it’s also the band’s first independent release since signing with Dirty Hit as teenagers, and if their recent run of sold-out headline dates is any indication, they haven’t missed a beat.
“This is our first project we’ve released independently since our first album, and that feels like a new chapter opening up,” explains Olivia. “Things are gonna be just a little bit different with how we approach music—this is the first time in our lives where we feel a little bit settled-in and self-assured. As musicians, and just in life generally. We feel like we don’t have to prove ourselves as much.”
That confidence is clear on opener “Bline,” a glitchy, haunting track powered by sinewy drum & bass grooves about the insecurities the band felt leaving their hometown of Atlanta for time split between London and New York. “Moving to the city at a young age and not having college as a social outlet was extremely difficult for me as a socially anxious and introverted person,” shares Olivia. “Root Canal” pits jangly guitars against an earworm melody, the sweetness belying the songs underlying darkness as Olivia casually tosses off lines like “I wanna see you fail” and “You made me swallow rocks and broken glasses.” It’s the start of a new era for Lowertown, one informed by the wisdom that comes from hardfought trial and error.