Lindsey Jordan first picked up the guitar at age 5. That’s around the same age Mozart started making music hundreds of years ago.
She even started out learning classical music by artists like Mozart. But her passion was elsewhere.
"Ever since my first few lessons I would go on the internet and teach myself how to play the songs that I wanted to play," she says. "On special occasions my guitar teacher would cave and let me learn rock songs."
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Soon she was playing Green Day and Avril Lavigne instead. And that led to writing her own rock music.
"I was just really excited at the prospect of having something to work on that was independent," she says. "Something that I could just have as an outlet."
Jordan now records under the name Snail Mail. She released her debut album last month, just days before her 19th birthday. It’s called “Lush.”
She had more experience than some musicians twice her age when she started making the album. She’d spent years playing shows in church, her school jazz ensemble, and on tour with her rock band. But she says she still had a lot to learn.
"I knew very little about recording," she says. "I spent a lot of time being really hard-headed and not listening to suggestions. Just allowing yourself to learn from other people is really important."
Jordan says making “Lush” was a long and difficult process. But it taught her things she couldn’t learn in her guitar lessons or by playing gigs.
And it eventually took her music in a bold new direction.
"In general I like to put space between my subject and lyrics, but the songs on 'Lush' are a little more straightforward," she says.
She points to the song “Speaking Terms” as a big breakthrough. She wrote it about a friendship that had gone sour. And she didn’t pull any punches.
"The blatant honesty and just knowing that person would hear it, and know it was about them," she says. "Pretty much every line in that song helped me to develop and want to write without boundaries. That song really pushed me in the direction that I’m going now."
Jordan has plenty of time to follow that new direction with Snail Mail. She’s not even in her 20s yet.
And she’s learned how to overcome the challenges of making a record. Now she has one final tip for any five year olds who want to play music, whether it’s classical, rock or something else.
"Just be easy on yourself because things are really difficult. There’s a lot to be learned. I think just accepting that is totally crucial."