There are performers who remove themselves from the world when it’s time to write a new album. They rent a cabin out of town, or even out of the country, hole up for weeks at a time, and write. Today, they can even record much of a record in a spare bedroom or a vacation rental living room, thanks to the size and ubiquity of equipment.
On the other hand, there’s Laura Burhenn. The singer-songwriter and linchpin of The Mynabirds took the time between her 2012 album “Generals” and 2015’s “Lovers Know” to drive across the country twice, tour South Africa as a solo performer and see seemingly everywhere else with The Postal Service on the band’s 10th anniversary jaunt. Those sights and the dissolution of a long-term relationship led to an album with a diverse sonic palette (songs that sound and feel like the desert, like “Hanged Man,” feel right at home next to the sunny “Wildfire”) and lyrics that tell of heartbreak, self-doubt and, eventually, recovery.
amNewYork caught up with the indie pop artist in advance of her performance at Rough Trade NYC this Friday.
“Lovers Know” has a poppier vibe to it than some of your previous work. What were you listening to when writing it?
I trust my subconscious to do most of my writing for me, so I’m always just sort of planting seeds. This record was hugely influenced by ’90s R&B and ’90s shoegaze. And since I wrote so much of it while I was driving, I think I was going back subconsciously to the tapes I had in my car when I was 16 and first got my driver’s license. … I was feeling heartbroken and lost, and there’s something about getting back to that feeling of being 16 and getting your driver’s license, and having that be the ultimate freedom — windows down, wind blowing through you hair — and all those songs that accompanied you on those drives.
How has your idea of “home” changed over the course of the last three years?
When you tour enough, you learn to make any place your home. We did some promo shows in London and then ended up in Berlin. I stayed for a week, and I was there for a week last November, and you can start to see yourself anywhere. It’s such a weird thing when you’re driving down highways — you can be in the middle-of-nowhere Texas and you see somebody’s made a home there.
If that’s so, then what is home to you?
Really for me, it’s ‘where’s my dog?’ When I traveled across the U.S., I put him in the car with me.
IF YOU GO: The Mynabirds play Rough Trade NYC Sept. 25 at 8:30 p.m., 64 N. North St., Williamsburg, 718-388-4111, tickets $12-$15