Lakshmi (Pronounced Luck-shmee, and taking their name from the Hindu goddess of good luck and fortune; BTW this also happens to be the lead singer’s middle name, however she is not believed to be related to cookbook author Padma Lakshmi) are a pop-rock band from Woodbury, CT that have a refreshingly edgy sound, and whose pop side is refreshing to someone that listens to a lot of strange music (I guess that would be me ;)). Having already been publicly compared to acts like Paramore and Kelly Clarkson, the band has more or less classified their sound as progressive pop. Lead vocalist Gabrielle Lakshmi Brazauskas elaborates on this; “Putting us in a category is hard. We all literally…we come from such different influences and they all come through in our music…I’m very soulful in a lot of what I do, and I love pop and progressive too…[The guys] are very progressively influenced…I don’t know. When people ask me, that’s what we say, it’s the easiest thing to say right now, but it’s up to you, it’s up to what you hear…”.
“We try to follow the pop format. We want to go for intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge and get out of there in a 3 1/2 minute time,” adds drummer Jake Siberon. “…but the problem with us as musicians, is trying to…I don’t want to say ‘dumb ourselves down’ because I don’t think pop music is dumb, but we are a rock band, we play guitars, and in a lot of pop music, the guitar is in the background, giving you the ambiance of guitar, where, in our group, the guitars are part of the front line. It’s vocals and 2 guitar players, and really, what the ambiance is, is the bass and drums…I’m not out there going crazy on the drums, and the bass is just literally following the drums, but the 2 guitars, they’re not background either. I guess that’s where the progressive part comes from. In our minds, when we think progressive, the lines are constantly moving on guitar”.
Some of Lakshmi’s beginnings are in a classical upbringing, oddly enough. From the age of 5, Gabrielle was a classically-trained pianist, and after having sung in choirs, also studied classical and jazz voice at The Hartt School, from which she is a recent graduate.
“I always loved pop music. It was definitely a part of me…I was always listening to the radio…That was my thing as well. I was writing my own music in middle school, and then I started with another band in high school, and, did a few bands here and there. Then I met our drummer Jake, and we kind of started working on stuff together, and that’s how Lakshmi was formed…” Guitarists Alex and Andrew were high school friends with Gabrielle, and she eventually brought them in. “When Alex and Jake met, they immediately connected, and the same with Andrew, it all just felt really natural, like it was supposed to be that way…After our first show, it was so amazing”.
Full Circle (acoustic version)
On recording the band’s self-titled current album Lakshmi (BTW a collection of very sharp and uplifting fast-paced songs–with a few softer moments as well–at a tight 39 minutes that never wavers), Gabrielle recalls: “When we recorded, we actually recorded ourselves. Self-recorded, self-produced, so we all did it together. It was nice because we had to put ourselves on our own schedule, so it was up to us to really make that happen, and we tried to stay within its parameters as best we could, and it was just good…If I didn’t like a take, we could go another time. I’ve never done a professional recording before, so this was a great introduction for me to realize, at least, what it’s like to be on a schedule…get things released and done when it needs to be done. It was fun! I loved recording! It was definitely, like, every emotion I could feel, I probably felt. It was a lot of tough stuff, but it was in a good way, it was something that I needed to go through as a person. I grew a lot throughout this record”.
The band even had a golden opportunity to test their skills as an arena act when they won a local CT radio contest to open for Bon Jovi. “That was amazing!” adds Gabrielle. “The whole day was so surreal, at least for me! The soundcheck was the craziest, because you’re looking out, and every single seat is empty, and you’re just like ‘This is gonna be full, and it’s a 12,000-seat house! Oh my God, there’s people behind me, there’s people over here!’ It’s like a 360 seating arrangement…I was freaking out a little bit to be quite honest! When we all got ready to go out onstage, had our gear, we were totally ready, and I felt really comfortable with it, actually. Having people in there having energy going definitely helps, and made it feel like any other show. It was really fun!”.
“The accommodations were pretty cool too,” adds Alex. “You go backstage, they give you a [dressing] room, free food, gifts and stuff…”
Lakshmi also relishes in playing favorite cover songs, some of which they have made videos of (Directed by Jake). Gabrielle: “We all choose different ones…”Teenage Dream”, that’s a fun song, I like it! (EDITOR’S NOTE: I had to let them know I liked their version of it despite my dislike for Katy Perry ;)) “We did The Spice Girls [“Say You’ll Be There”]…Everybody actually now loves it in the band. It’s just so much fun…bringing back a lot of memories for me”.
Say You’ll Be There (Spice Girls cover)
It’s still very much the beginning for this promising band. They have an EP in the works, some more CT shows, and are hoping to branch out and play clubs in the NYC and Northern New England areas as well.
Gabrielle shares some thoughts on her biggest influence: “For me, I’d have to say my grandfather, because he’s the one that got me into music, he sat with me every single day for an hour and practiced piano with me literally every day for 10 years. It was incredible, his dedication, his commitment to me, his commitment to the art form, and that really taught me perseverance, and taught me that if you want something, you have to do it yourself, and you have to put in that time…It’s really hard because he just had a stroke last summer and, it’s really hard for me to cope with that, because I shared all of my musical adventures with him, and now it’s really hard to do that, but his energy and his passion still live within me so much. I think all these guys are equally just as passionate about the music, and that’s what’s so cool about working with them, because we all have the same goal”.
Fight The Fear (Live at The Red Door, Watertown, CT; Nov 2010)