Anyone who’s ever sailed on the open sea can tell you that no matter how calm the waters seem, things can turn choppy and treacherous at any time. But with some solid skills and a good head on your shoulders you have a better than average chance of making it through the storm. In the case of singer/songwriter Lucy LaForge, she can take a few licks from the ocean and keep on singing sweet melodies without so much as rustling the large bow in her hair.
Of course in the sea of love and relationships, it’s never quite as easy as LaForge’s breathy and effervescent vocals make it seem. Even on heavy songs about past breakups like “Honey, Put Your Weapons Down,” a fan favorite at her shows with her band Lucy & La Mer, her voice offers as much comfort as it does catharsis.
“[That song] has been really rewarding and built a really nice community after shows,” LaForge says. “There’s always someone who comes up and wants to know the name of that song because they’re going through a breakup. . . . It’s a really nice camaraderie after the show [when] people have a place where they feel like they can share their problems.”
Despite being raised in the city of Winchester, a super small town outside of Temecula, the vibe of her baritone ukulele and folk pop acoustic sound was forged on the sea—hence the band’s name. While writing her band’s debut EP, Little Spoon, LaForge was in the wake of a breakup. She found solace in her family’s small sail boat where she’d camp out and strum through emotions.
“I would just go and crash on my family’s boat, it’s like a small little sailboat out in the [Long Beach] harbor and I would hang out there and write songs,” she says.
LaForge also sailed around the world in a ship as part of a study-abroad college program, enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Even braving rough waters felt like a privilege.
“We hit a pretty big storm between Mexico and Japan, the Pacific Ocean is so brutal but it was fun, it only lasted a few days,” she says very nonchalantly. “I really loved South Africa, I did some shark cage diving there, it was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done.”
Back on dry land, her sound has earned her some respectable cred in the LA indie scene. LaForge has shared the stage with Moby, Cat Power, Jamestown Revival, Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), and White Buffalo to name a few. Little Spoon charted on College Radio in 2015, followed by three bi-coastal tours that year as well as two semi-finalist spots in the International Songwriter Contest. They’ve also worked closely with women’s rights organizations, including “More Than No” and the Cabaret Con-sensual, as well as the LGBT activist group AmBi.
Recently, Lucy & La Mer—including drummer Sheldon Reed, bassist John Keenan and guitarist Liv Slingerland—were tapped to play Echo Park Rising for a third time. With plenty of music coming out of them these days, LaForge says she’s steered her music toward sunny songs that will get the crowd sailing home satisfied. Songs like “Oak Tree” and “Just Friends” are folksy love anthems that you can tap your toe and whistle along to; they even make some pretty sweet sailing music.
“We’re kind of playing with the idea of doing more danceable stuff,” LaForge says. “The last record was mostly ballads but we wanna have something fun people can dance to. That’s what we’ve been doing in our live shows, playing more upbeat stuff.”
Lucy & La Mer perform at the Constellation Room with Moon Honey, Summer Twins and Wyatt Blair, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com. Wed., 8 p.m. $10. All ages.