Lucy Dacus loves touring more than life. What started as a hobby has turned into a full-time career, something the down-to-earth artist was not expecting but welcomed as one of the happiest accidents of her life. The indie-rock artist released her latest studio album “Home Video” in June and set off on a nationwide tour that spans until late October, concluding with three sold-out shows at the 9:30 Club.
When asked what she’s looking forward to most with her final performances of the tour, she says, “My family being there. Making them proud is one of the biggest motivators of my life. That sounds corny, but when I see them smiling, I just feel like I’m doing something right.”
Growing up in Richmond, Virginia as the daughter of two musicians, Dacus rooted herself in the local music scene, which she describes as small yet diverse, and extremely welcoming. She frequented house shows and local venues like The Camel, and often drove to D.C. for bigger shows. The singer-songwriter and producer never dreamed she would one day headline the 9:30 Club, much less make money off of her music.
District Fray: Tell me about your journey coming up in Richmond’s music scene. What was it like?
Lucy Dacus: It was a really supportive scene. Any night of the week, you could find a fully local bill and people were going to it. People weren’t really making music to have careers. It was all passion. And people would throw a show if a band wrote a new song — very genuine motivations, because there’s not really any music industry in Richmond. Since it is a smaller place, you can’t just stick to one genre. There’s tons of different genres, and I feel lucky to have had access to that.
When did you start performing in D.C.?
The first time I played D.C., I booked a show at a house called the Bathtub Republic. We played in somebody’s living room for 100 people. Then I booked a show at DC9 and opened for singer-songwriter Julien Baker in late 2015 or early 2016. That was my first sold-out show in D.C.
Have you performed at 9:30 Club before?
Yes. The last show before lockdown was at 9:30 Club in December 2019. I never dreamed of being a musician growing up, so it was kind of unexpected. One of my far-reaching goals was to play the 9:30 Club. We opened for people, and then to headline and sell it out was just amazing. Now to do three sold-out nights there, blows my mind. I think it’s one of the nation’s best venues. They treat you well, and it’s a good room. The crowds are always excited to be there. I’m glad we’re ending our tour there.
How does it feel to be back at it after more than a year of not playing shows? Is this your first tour out of lockdown?
We opened for Bright Eyes in July and that went well — it was all outside. But this is the first headlining tour we’ve done and it’s indoors. We have Covid-19 precautions and are getting tested constantly. It feels safe so far. Playing shows is such an awesome job. Hearing people sing along, even with masks on, is the most alive I ever feel. It makes you feel so joyful. I’m happy to be back.
When did you first discover your passion for music?
It’s always been a passion, and for that reason, I never really thought of it as a job. I also never connected making money with playing music. Honestly, it takes a long time to start making money in a way you can actually live on. I thought I would go into film because it’s such a huge industry, but instead I got a job and was touring as a hobby. It was probably the best accident of my life.
Do you have an early memory of when you fell in love with music?
My mom plays piano for musical theatre. There was this actor who wanted to practice an opera song because he was auditioning for Julliard. He came to the house — I must’ve been eight or nine. I remember sneaking and sitting on the stairs and just listening. I thought, “This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.”
What’s next for Lucy Dacus?
Well, I’m on tour for the rest of my life (laughs). No, I’m on tour until the end of October. But after that, I don’t know. I’m afraid to make plans because I don’t want them to be cursed. I want them to actually happen, so I want to wait and see what Covid has to say. I just want to be working. I want to be touring all the time. I’m still writing music, so slowly but surely, I’ll be working on a new record. I also haven’t had the chance to see people I love, so if possible, I want to travel and keep up with those relationships.
What’s your favorite D.C. haunt?
Busboys and Poets because they have everything I need: books, food and a comfy couch. That’s really all there needs to be.
What’s your favorite song you’ve recorded?
“Triple Dog Dare,” the last song on the newest album. It’s the best storytelling I’ve done so far.
What instrument do you wish you could play?
Bass. It’s such an underrated instrument. If the bass is bad at a show, you don’t really realize it, but you have a weird feeling something is off. But if it’s good, you’re carried through.
Do you have any hobbies that aren’t music?
There’s this card game called Truco — it’s kind of like poker with partners. There’s a lot of bluffing and it’s just really fun. Cards in general.
If you could tour with any artist or band, who would you choose?
Maybe Janelle Monáe, or Lorde? But the truth is, my friends and I are already doing that. Palehound is touring with us and I love every single one of their songs.
What’s your guilty pleasure music?
Jack’s Mannequin (laughs). I would say ABBA, but that’s not a guilty pleasure at all, that’s just a pleasure.
What kind of music did your parents force on you growing up?
Christian rock. Constantly. Who are you listening to now? I listen to a lot of Anjimile. That record came out in 2020 and it’s one of my favorites. Also, Bartees Strange, who is opening for us for one of the D.C. shows.
What’s your dream vacation?
I really want to go to Japan. I hear it’s an extremely beautiful place. Plus, I love fish, so eating sushi every day and looking at beautiful things sounds perfect.
Catch Lucy Dacus at 9:30 Club on October 22, 23 and 29.
Follow Dacus on Instagram and Twitter @lucydacus, and find her at fb.com/lucy.dacus. Stream her latest album “Home Video” on Spotify and Apple Music. For upcoming tour dates, merch and more, visit lucydacus.com.
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