5 Insights With Pokey LaFarge

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Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three crept quietly onto the folk scene in 2006, charming people with an easy going stage presence and music that gives a subtle and nostalgic nod to the jazz and swing movements of the 1920s. As bluegrass groups like Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers gained quick and considerable fame and dissolved into mainstream folk, LaFarge opted for a quieter route; choosing to stick to his roots. When it comes to the composition of his work, his music can only be described as a delicate mixture of swing, jazz, blue grass and Americana.

Teasing the gray area between country and folk, LaFarge has managed to avoid conforming to mainstream American music while also capturing the attention of rock idol and former White Stripes front man Jack White. LaFarge recently partnered with White’s label Third Man Records to produce his self-titled album. Despite his recent success, LaFarge currently has no plans to rest on his laurels and is excited about the possibility of bringing his music to new audiences. LaFarge was kind enough to give us his insight on his journey thus far, as well as his aspirations and future plans.

5 Future Plans

Where would you like to be a year from now and what’s your plan of action?

“I’d like to stay in a good frame of mind and stay positive and energetic about my music and life—which I’m incredibly fortunate to have. The more I live, the more I get to play and write music—which is what I love the best, so I guess that leaves no choice but to keep on living.”

4 New Album

Can you talk a little bit about this new album? What was the writing and recording process like and how did it differ from Middle of Everywhere and Riverboat Soul?

“I definitely wanted to take more time with this and bring more depth to both the songs and the recording. I knew I was going to be able to start with a bigger ensemble this year and wanted to start building my sound. We took the time to add in some instrumentation not yet included in my previous recordings.”

3 Third Man

How did you come about getting signed to Third Man Records? How do you see this new partnership influencing your sound in the future?

“WSM 650AM out of Nashville is where Jack heard me 3 years ago. I then recorded a single with him and backed him up on track 11 of his latest album. We did some recording for Lone Ranger and we opened up 16 shows for him. I mean to say we have a good working relationship and mutual respect. That, amongst other things made for a good fit for this next record.”

2 Early Influences

How has growing up in the Midwest affected the way that you approach making new music? Who were your early influences and how did you discover them?

“While I had historically minded elders in my upbringing there wasn’t a whole lot of music. Beauty has a way of finding those that are searching for it. At the heart of my creativity is the drive to find meaning in the people and places I encounter and also from the past. My approach to making new music has a lot to do with the community oriented underdog approach that makes up the core of me and a lot of my peers. But there’s more to that obviously: there’s rhythm, melody, depth and more. Early influences were Sleepy John Estes, Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys, Big Bill Broonzy, Lefty Frizzell, Bob Dylan and more.”

1 American “Retro”

You say that your music is not “retro,” its American music that never died. How do you try and combat the misconceptions people may hold about this genre?

“Retro is to me to say that you are bringing back something that has been gone. I say it never died. Instead it’s passing through me and I’m passing it on. It’s an attempt to make quality crafted music and to me quality is timeless. I do not attempt to copy anyone; instead I choose to express my own soul in my voice and my songs. I do believe that my minority status in the music world can make me unique but also misunderstood or misinterpreted. Time has a way of smoothing these things out. I prefer to be delightfully downstream from the mainstream.”

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