Laura Burhenn was a luminous fixture of the DC music scene for years. She performed as a solo songstress with her piano for years, and was half of the dynamic duo Georgie James, along with John Davis (Q and Not U). A few years back she left DC for Omaha, Nebraska, and since then has collaborated and toured with Bright Eyes, and formed a new band The Mynabirds. She’s on tour now with The Mynabirds in support of their second album, Generals, out now on Saddle Creek records. We Love DC’s Alexia got a chance to chat with her about her new band, her move to Omaha, touring with Bright Eyes, and more!
Alexia: You’ve been playing music a long time- when did you first start writing your own music?
Laura: The first song I ever wrote dates back to about age 7 or 8. There’s a Fisher Price cassette tape recording of it somewhere still around. There were a string of other little songs here and there after that (including a real killer pop jam called “In Your Life” I wrote for my all girl band in fifth grade, Black Leather Red Roses), but nothing really serious until I wrote “Fallen,” a song that I won my tenth grade high school talent show with. Ha. I also recorded it and put it on my first solo record when I was 17. Needless to say, I’ve been at it for awhile.
Alexia: Were there any specific artists or albums that first ignited your passion for rock music?
Laura: My first cassette loves were the Beach Boys, the Monkees and Wilson Phillips. But I’d say the three most influential albums of my teen years were PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me, Tori Amos’s Under the Pink (I caught onto both artists when their second albums came out and later went back to fall in love with their first albums), and a collection of greatest hits from Nina Simone. God, that voice! That swagger!
Alexia: You built a name for yourself in the DC area, with your solo work and Georgie James- what was the catalyst for your move to Omaha?
Laura: After Georgie James broke up, I decided I wanted to try out a whole different scene. I love DC and it’ll always be my home. But sometimes you need distance to get perspective in your life. The move to Omaha surprised some people, I know. (New York, LA or even Portland would’ve been more expected for a musician.) But I chose Omaha for the good friends I’d made through working with Saddle Creek — and the great arts scene that’s going on there.