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Mary Lambert: Leaving Record Label Was "Important For My Mental Health"

Mary Lambert  Grief Creature

This interview was conducted as part of the interview series, LGBTQ&A, a weekly podcast that documents modern queer and trans history. 

After more than five years, Mary Lambert's long-anticipated new album, Grief Creature, will be released on November 15th. Best known as singer and co-writer of the Grammy-nominated song, "Same Love" with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, this is Lambert's first album since leaving Capitol Records, a move she describes as "important for my mental health." 

"It's a really scary place to write from because you're operating in sort of a creative binary where it's like this song is either good or bad, rather than, 'This song is about my feelings and who the fuck cares about the outcome,'" she said in her interview. 

Now an independent artist, Lambert launched Tender Heart Records and self-produced 16 of the new album's 17 tracks. Macklemore rejoins her for the song, "House of Mirrors". 

Lambert talks about the highs and lows of being a queer woman in the music industry on this week's episode of the LGBTQ&A podcast, as well as what lead her to discover the power of being "radically vulnerable" as a 9-year-old.

Click here to listen to the full podcast interview. Here's a preview below: 

Mary Lambert explains why she left her record label.
"I think leaving the record label was really important for my mental health. And I think not having formal management was also a part of that. I just don't do well with authority. I have to do what I want to do. And any time that there's another person in the room or there's somebody helping me run my direction, I can't help but make myself smaller.

And so I realized that I needed to start making provisions in my career where there just wasn't an opportunity for me to be small, where I had to be empowered and I had to be my own advocate. So breaking away from the label was a huge deal because the pressure...I realized I started writing songs with the intention of the recipient, with the intention of the listener liking it.

And it's a really scary place to write from because you're operating in sort of a creative binary where it's like this song is either good or bad, rather than this song is about my feelings and who the fuck cares about the outcome. And I'm just going to speak my truth and if it resonates with somebody, then awesome."

Mary Lambert talks about learning the power of vulnerability as a 9-year-old. 
I remember going to the sleepover and I'm sure I was the one that brought it up...and when I did that, when I started talking about it, all of a sudden everybody was sharing similar experiences where we realized at 9-years old that all of us had been violated by men at some point in our childhoods. And the sleepover ended up being just us crying and hugging each other. And I remember thinking, 'This is powerful.'

And this started with me being really vulnerable about this experience. So I've just understood the value of being radically vulnerable because I think it encourages empathy and that empathy carries over into connection. And I think connection is what encourages us to stay alive and be accountable to each other and care for each other."

Mary Lambert talks about people weaponizing religion against LGBTQ people.
"I think I have a unique perspective because I am Christian and I'm still good with God...and if I can go through scripture with them and understand where they're drawing these conclusions, which is often from a pastor, often a white, straight, male pastor talking about their own sort of belief systems and projecting, then I can maybe offer a counterpoint of something to chew on.

But I think that the desire for an instant gratification of switching someone's mindset just doesn't happen and so it's a slow process."

[Click here to listen to the full podcast with Mary Lambert.]

Grief Creature will be available on November 15th.

New episodes of the LGBTQ&A podcast come out every Tuesday on the Luminary app.  

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