Born in the Ukraine one year before the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Lana Mir has taken quite the journey to make it here in the States.
Inspired by first seeing the video for Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” on MTV, Mir soon decided she wanted to become a professional musician, having worked long on hard on her songwriting chops before finally moving to New York and hooking up with Brookville’s Andy Chase to help produce her self-titled debut album, out now. On it, she mines a soft-spoken kind of indie-pop that doesn’t sound too far removed from Feist’s excellent Let It Die, although with a distinctive flair all her own. Perhaps her sound is best encapsulated in her sweet, dreamy take on the Stone Roses’ classic Brit-rock anthem “I Wanna Be Adored”, her voice sounding like it’s aching on virtually every line, making the titular phrase uttered in the chorus all that more potent.
Before jumping onto the promotional circuit head-on, Mir was able to take some time to answer PopMatters’ famed 20 Questions, here unveiling a love of Leo Tolstoy, her thoughts on the current US immigration debate, and how she wishes she could’ve made Mulholland Drive herself ...
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
I’m currently reading the classic Russian book Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. This masterpiece is filled with complex characters, tragic events, and destinies. Emotions and thoughts are described in such transparent ways. It leaves you speechless and makes you feel what the character feels. The book ends with the suicide of beautiful Anna, but there is plenty to cry about before the end of the book.
2. The fictional character most like you?
This is a very difficult question. I’ve read a lot of books and I can see little parts of myself in so many characters. One of my favourite books is by Boris Vian called Foam of the Daze. Boris Vian created a world of jazz and absurdity in his novel. He takes us to this crazy world he created, but when you think about it his world is very similar to ours. Colin is a young man who loves jazz, life and beautiful things. He fell in love with Chloe who developed a water lily in her lungs and, in order to save her, Colin had to work for the first time in his life. This book is about the fragility of life and the unavoidable changes life brings to us, like death, aging, and loss of loved ones. I guess living in NYC for the first time in my life and being far from my family reminds me of this book. There’s something about the main character Colin that I can relate to.
3. The greatest album, ever?
So many greatest albums ever! Of course all Beatles albums and Rubber Soul in particular.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
I don’t think I have ever seen Star Trek. It is Star Wars for me. I have memories of being very little when my best friend’s mom took us to see Star Wars in the movie theater in Kiev. Of course I was in love with Luke Skywalker.
5. Your ideal brain food?
My ideal and most important brain food is reading. I’ve been always fascinated by the talent of writers and their ability to bring their vision into the books. Some of my major life decisions were inspired by books. Music of course is another important ingredient and source of inspiration. Music and books are two things I can’t imagine my life without.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
I’m very proud of my self-titled debut album Lana Mir. This is something I’ve been dreaming about all my life. When I was in Ukraine I was fantasizing about releasing my music in the US and it seemed a little crazy and almost impossible, but I always believed it would happen.
7. You want to be remembered for . .?
My music and my voice. I’m still at the beginning of my path and I’m hoping to explore new ways of creating art and hopefully making a song or record I will be remembered for.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
So many incredible and talented musicians, writers, painters, directors and so on. Being a woman and a vocalist, those who inspire me the most are female vocalists like Billy Holiday, Astrid Gilberto, Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell, Tracy Thorn and about other couple hundred musicians and singers. I’m also inspired by bands like Grizzly Bear, Air, and Ivy.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
I am thinking about if I want to say a book, a song or movie. I can’t choose so I will say I wish I wrote a song “‘Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk, I made the movie Mullholland Drive by David Lynch or I wrote the book Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.
10. Your hidden talents . . .?
I love yoga, nutrition, a healthy life style, and holistic well-being. I’m currently studying nutrition, herbs and aromatherapy and hoping to become a certified nutritionist.
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
My parents always support me and encourage me to strive towards my dreams no matter what. This advice I often give to myself and I always follow it.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
I randomly met this guy a couple of years ago and he lent me his favourite book The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. I haven’t returned it and it became my favourite too.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?
It depends on the situation, the activity and my mood. I feel equally comfortable wearing sports clothes, boho or glamour.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
Andy Chase—my producer, great musician, and friend. He helped to make my dream come true and I can’t be more thankful. He is the guitarist in the band Ivy and the singer in the band Brookville. Dinner at the Ritz would be a great way to show my appreciation to Andy and to celebrate the accomplishments and future plans.
15. Time travel: where, when and why?
I would like to go to the future 50 years from now, because I’m inpatient. I hope to be pleasantly surprised by all the modern conveniences, whatever they might be, and still be young enough to enjoy them.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
Yoga and more yoga. I like to work out and go for a run. Yoga lifts up my mood instantly and I always feel great after I finish my workout.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?
Balance and listening to your body. Love and being loved and sometimes I can’t say no to chocolate.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
The city. It has always been NYC because it’s so diverse. But I would also love to live in other cities like Paris, Amsterdam, etc. I haven’t been to Paris, but I think I would really like it there.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
You are doing a great job, but I wish the immigration laws would change. I hope the privilege to live in the US will eventually be given based on merit and all people who work and contribute to the country will be given an opportunity to work and live here like the previous generations of immigrants who built America.
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
As always, my music. I have a new band and we are currently working on playing live shows with all songs from the new album which came out in stores on August 24th.