Over the past couple of years, North Texas has been very kind to the Pacific Northwest by gifting some of our cute, fun and positive music to the area. Seattle must have enjoyed inhaling the positivity and bright colors – it was a period of time when bands wore roller skates in their promo pics and house parties had giant cupcake piñatas.
The lo-fi pop migration of 2014-2016 took members of the now-defunct Dripping Wet, Blessin, and Layer Cake, whose drummer Izzi Vasquez and guitarist/vocalist Jena Pyle now perform as part of Sundae Crush. Collaborations today reunite these artists with their DFW scene-sisters, like the one Pyle did recently with KXT darling Claire Morales and Pearl Earl’s Ariel Hartley for this Everly Brothers cover.
Another band from this era of good vibes and paper-decorated living room shows, Señor Fin, is intact after a move to Seattle. This week, on the weekly music series “Cut In” that is produced for Texas Standard, independent radio journalist and KERA alum Lyndsay Knecht introduces us to Jesse Miller, Señor Fin’s bandleader and the person behind Luwum.
Jesse Miller seems to spend a lot of time in a basement. If it were anyone else, I would think they were trolling me in saying so. But his M.O. is to be earnest. That transparent sweetness comes through in his music, especially his more confessional work released under the name Luwum.
One of the first songs he wrote – in said basement, according to the artist – after he moved to Seattle is about moving on. “Where Do You Belong?” is a quick dip in a really deep pool – the question of how to hold on to someone when everything is changing around you both.
‘It’s about wanting to find a partner but worrying that you’re too wrapped up in your own life to love someone else,” Miller wrote in an email, from his basement.
Luwum was the name given to Miller by his godparents in the Ugandan tribe he was born into, called Luo. They were paying homage to Janani Luwum, a Christian martyr who fought against the corruption of Idi Amin’s regime until his death, which witnesses say was caused by the dictator’s army.
Miller’s main project, the band Señor Fin, plays a winding, breezy, crowdpleasing Beatles-toned rock. Luwum is warmer, more direct. The writing hearkens back to American Analog Set’s tight short stories-within-songs, and so does Miller’s obvious penchant for tape sound – which is sometimes created with a laptop and sometimes authentically with a Tascam 4-track recorder.
‘I think the biggest draw [of the Tascam] is that it forces you to think less about the editing and more about the performance/music. Tape sounds cool, but I think it’s more the process than anything – not staring at a screen. William Austin Clay uses a digital multi-tracker and it’s the same deal,” Miller wrote.