Brooklyn native/Los Angeles resident David Longstreth has guided his indie rock project Dirty Projectors through 16 years, nine studio albums, three EPs, stylistic shifts and numerous lineup changes. It was three years ago that Longstreth relocated to L.A. and started assembling a new band, and this year’s Lamp Lit Prose album sees the current iteration of the group finding their feet. They’re playing a three-night residency at Zebulon, so we chatted with Longstreth about it all.
L.A. WEEKLY: The Dirty Projectors have seen 16 years of existence — how has the band evolved?
DAVID LONGSTRETH: It’s a tricky question. It’s been a lot of places stylistically. It’s always been anchored by the music that comes from me. That’s inflected with where my life is and what I’m interested in at the time.
The lineup has changed a lot over the years — what do the new members bring?
The new band is just really awesome. It’s been a great unit. The chemistry of the band is amazing. It’s a mixture of people who have been with me for a while and some newer faces. People’s voices are amazing. They sing super well together, and the way we’re playing the new stuff is super-exciting.
Maia [Friedman — guitar, keyboards], Felicia [Douglass — percussion, keyboards] and Kristin [Slipp — keyboards] joined this year, right?
Yeah. I hadn’t taken Dirty Projectors on tour since like 2013. I had been doing a lot of other production and writing work, and then I made these two records — the self-titled record and Lamp Lit Prose — so I put together this new vocal section earlier this year. We’ve toured around this country and Europe, did Fuji Rock in Japan, coming back around to residencies in a couple of cities around the States.
Are you pleased with the response to new album?
Yeah, it’s been super awesome. You never know whether something lands and it’s cool that people are feeling this album.
Lyrically, what’s been the main thematic influence?
I think that this record is 10 songs that are varied. I would say that if the self-titled record was of its moment in the sense of feeling — having this sense of doom and negativity about it — this one is in the moment in the sense of feeling the imperative to find things to feel hopeful about. To be positive about. To reach for the things we deserve and the things that we believe in.
As a Brooklyn man in L.A., are you enjoying it here?
I do like it. In New York, there was always a crush for time, and for space. You had the gear you tour with but that’s over in the storage space and then there’s the practice space, which you’re sharing with three other bands. And then you have your guitar at home. It’s really hard to get in a flow with writing and recording. L.A. has been so amazing for that for me. I have a great little area to work, and making these two records in the three years that I have been here is testament to how great it’s been to work here.
What can we expect from the Zebulon sets? Will you mix them up?
Yep. We’re starting practices later today. Right now the band knows a lot of the last two albums, and some of the two before that. But we’re diving into some back-catalog stuff so we can vary the sets every night.
All the way back to the Glad Fact debut?
All the way. A little bit. We’re gonna switch it up. There’s gonna be stuff from across the eras.
Following these shows, what’s next?
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Well, I’m working on new jams. I’m making some new stuff.
You’ve been prolific of late — will there be a third album in 2019?
It’s possible. I’m not ruling it out but no promises.
Dirty Projectors play at 8 p.m. on Tue., Nov. 6; Wed., Nov. 7; and Thu. Nov. 8 at Zebulon.