Ada Lea discusses influences behind new LP ‘one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden’
Montreal singer/songwriter Alexandra Levy's new album as Ada Lea, one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden, is out today via Saddle Creek and Next Door Records. It's full of intimate, melancholy songs that reveal themselves to you more over time, and will be perfect for digging into especially as the weather gets colder. Stream it in full below.
In celebration of the album's release, we asked Alexandra to tell us about her influences in creating it, and she wrote us a list of ten things, complete with commentary. Read that below.
Ada Lea's one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden Influences
Rented a cabin 3 hours from Montreal to finish the album. Initially, I had planned on staying for only one month, but on the third day I came across the most incredible garage sale down the road and everything was so beautiful and cheap (like .50 for a glass) and bought so much stuff that it only made sense to stay for longer. I begged the person I was renting from, and he allowed me to stay if I agreed to a year. That’s how I ended up in the middle of nowhere working on music.
I came across this quote while reading Elena Ferrante’s Frantumaglia. The way she describes her relationship to Naples is how I feel about Montreal. “I’ve lived for quite a while in other places, but that city is not an ordinary place, it’s an extension of the body, a matrix of perception, the term of comparison of every experience. Everything that has been permanently meaningful for me has Naples at its backdrop and is expressed in its dialect.”
3. Elena Ferrante
Brought My Brilliant Friend with me on tour in Europe thinking I would likely not have the time or energy to open it. Little did I know, only a few shows later, I would be scouring the rainy streets of London frantically looking for the second volume, then the third and fourth later in the tour.
4. Morning Routine
I love waking up early. I used to know how to sleep in, but I’ve now forgotten. The morning routine definitely played a significant role in the creation of this album. It was a time for myself and was deeply meaningful to me.
5. Francesca Woodman
Monse, my dear friend who shot the album artwork, and I are big Woodman fans and she was definitely a huge inspiration to the album, and artwork.
I love the whole process of painting. It’s a great time to listen to music, podcasts, audiobooks, or chatting with friends on the phone. It was a way to center myself and give me the inner peace I needed to work on the album. I tried to paint daily.
I’d usually export whatever it was that i was working on and listen to that during the walks, taking note of any impressions. Listening to the progress during the forest walks was essential.
8. MUNA - Saves The World
Listened to this album on repeat - on tour, in banff, and when I got to LA to record with Marshall. I still do. The production, lyrics, melodies - I always discover new elements. Early on in COVID days, Naomi did a live session online where people could send their questions about production and recording and Katie briefly spoke of the general songwriting process between them. I took note of which gear / plugins / synths they used, learned a lot of their approach and it was quite helpful in feeling inspired.
This would be first on the list if I was to rank them in terms of importance. I was very unstable in 2019, and touring definitely worsened the situation - which I didn’t realize until it was a bit too late, unfortunately. after a year and a half of jumping from treatment to treatment and none of them working, I finally found something that worked and that gave me enough mental strength to begin a fantastic program through the Allan Memorial. I wouldn’t have been able to finish the album without their help, and ever since, I’ve been on a steady incline upwards and have never felt so incredible.
Everyone that worked on the album was hugely influential, including friends & family that indirectly contributed.