Who’s Playing at The Outer Loop?
December Music Edition: Courtney Lavender of Xs & ARROWs
We are so psyched to introduce you to this next artist. Her insane levels of talent are only matched by her enormous heart. We first met her when she lent her musical prowess to The Outer Loop and African Well Fund, and created a gorgeous cover of U2’s “Love is All We Have Left” to help raise funds to build a well in Mloka, Tanzania. When an artist can synthesize creating beautiful music, touching poetry, and a passion for giving back… you know you’ve stumbled upon a special storyteller. We grabbed Courtney for a quick chat on her way between one home on the cobblestones of Dublin to her other home in the deserts of California. Read on to learn about what makes her creative soul tick…
Hi Courtney! What’s your art?
I make music with my band Xs & ARROWs. The three of us have been playing together in various incarnations since we were teenagers, and I recently moved from the role of guitarist to also being the singer and main songwriter. We released our debut EP, From Here, in October 2017. It’s been a huge challenge trying to assume this more demanding position, and despite wanting to give up countless times, something in me loves music too much to do so. From the time I picked up a guitar at 13, all I wanted was to be in a band. My other passion is writing. I wrote for an online music magazine for awhile, and for the past several years I’ve been focused on poetry.
Where do you come from?
I’m a third generation Los Angeleno, which seems to be quite rare. I’ve traveled a lot, but never actually lived anywhere else. L.A. is where I’m from, where I live, and my roots here are strong, but out in the desert is where I feel most myself, and Ireland is where my heart is home. I’ve been spending as much time as possible in both locations for almost 20 years.
What are some of your inspirations?
It was watching my mom play Blackbird on the guitar when I was 8 or 9 that made me want to learn the guitar, The Beatles that made me start my first band at 14, and seeing U2 live when I was 15 that solidified that music was what I was going to do. In the early days of Xs & ARROWs, we were called EXIT and were a U2 cover band! When I was 21, I discovered the Irish band The Frames, and they showed me a new perspective on what it means to be a successful group. You don’t necessarily have to be the biggest, the loudest, or the most popular. You just have to be true. Meeting their singer, Glen Hansard, proved to be inspirational in a more personal way as well, because he was the person who first encouraged me to sing when I didn’t think I could. Fast forward many years, and he lent some harmonies to a song on our EP called Questions. I can’t imagine a more beautiful full circle scenario.
What are you working on now?
I’m writing songs! After a long time focusing on prepping, recording, and releasing the EP, and then embarking on a major move across town in early 2018, I’m finally in a place where I’m writing again. It’s always a total buzz, but this time around it’s also quite a relief. I look forward to playing the new songs live, and hope to record them sooner rather than later.
Amazing. Where can we see more?
If you’re a Spotify user, follow us there! Our EP is on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, and anywhere you stream or buy music.
We keep all links and info handy over at http://xsandarrows.com.
Additionally, you can check out my poem Desert Hands, Dublin Heart (since that seems relevant to my comments above) as published in the poetry magazine The Fat Damsel (scroll down):
I With poems from Mendes Biondo, William Doreski, Pepper Smith, Anders Carlson-Wee, Kitty Coles, Diana Rosen, Aziz…thefatdamsel.wordpress.com
Your favorite .gif, meme, video clip:
Right now it’s a gif of this moment from a U2 show I recently attended in Dublin. Look at Edge’s legs go!
Thank you so much, Courtney! And thank you, Outer Loopers, for reading. Are you an artist? Would you like to be featured here? Or do you know someone amazing we should feature?
Keep an eye out for updates on Outer Loop projects bridging the U.S. and Tanzania.
BONUS: Listen to Courtney’s cover of “Love is All We Have Left” on the African Well Fund 2018 fundraising video below!