Tamara Lindeman had a feeling that The Weather Station’s new album was pretty good. Recorded in 2019, and finally released in February 2021, Ignorance felt like a nice change of pace in her critically acclaimed discography of intricate, delicate folk rock. Sure, the move to disco-inspired rhythms and beefy basslines was a sharp departure from the ‘70s British guitar lines she brought to her debut, 2015’s Loyalty. But the critical response was deafening: 9.0 and Best New Music from Pitchfork, and a 4-star review from Rolling Stone.
“Honestly, it’s overwhelming. I’m kind of shocked,” Lindeman told GQ from her home in Toronto. “Obviously, we worked very hard on the record but I would not have expected the response at all from the world,” she adds. That’s not to say that Lindeman’s previous albums weren’t well received. But listening to Ignorance is like listening to a new band entirely: The acoustic guitars are traded in for icy synths, and her voice bites like the Canadian cold she experiences daily. “I thought my very sweet British folk fans are not going to be stoked on this record, but I’ll make another record, life is long,” she says.
The Weather Station is a project deeply informed by the climate crisis, and Lindeman began writing Ignorance after a particularly intense year of studying the depressing numbers around it. What emerged wasn’t nihilism, but a confidence in communal action: The odds are still against us, but Lidenman feels less alone than ever before. “Lots of people are talking about this and lots of people are sharing these feelings. I don’t feel crazy anymore,” she explains. Looking the future of humanity right in the eye is a daunting task, but studying activism helped Lindeman function as a better bandleader. “I’m not a good leader. I prefer to be sitting in the corner, listening, and not having to speak. It was hard, but activism helped me find my voice,” she says. Her perspective is jaded by stasis but hopeful that decisive action is on the horizon. With The Weather Station and with our planet, Tamara Lindeman isn’t satisfied with the same old, same old.
GQ: How are you feeling about the way people are responding to the record?
Tamara Lindeman: It’s strange because I’m still under lockdown here in Toronto, so it’s very surreal to experience this broad global response to something I’ve made while still under a stay at home order, not seeing any human beings. It’s kind of metaphysical. It’s very interesting because normally as a musician, you have the physical reality of playing a show and people respond to it. Now, it’s all very theoretical, but it’s astonishing. I just did not think people would have this response.
Have you been able to interrogate why people responded to this record more than your previous albums?
It has a lot to do with the production. It’s a much more approachable record, sonically. It’s more in line with the way music tends to sound in the modern time, which was a complicated undertaking because my taste is not that. I had to find a way where my taste could align with that, where I felt like it would still be mine. My records in the past have always been slightly esoteric in sound, because I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I’m often chasing a sound that is not considered the norm. I understand that the sound of this record is much more approachable in some sonic sense.
Beyond that, there were things in the record that spoke to a communal experience. Sometimes my songs come from my surroundings. I’m not always sure whether it’s my feelings or the feelings around me that I’m writing about. On this album, I did actively think a lot about how music moves in the world and what it does. I was actively thinking about giving voice to things in this blunt, emotional way, in a way that music through time often has done.