Interview: Cole Janzen of Lowfaith

Posted: by The Editor

Lowfaith makes music well suited for a haunted house. The Colorado group borrows from grunge and emo to hone a sound that is eerie and dim, similar to Teenage Wrist. Lyrically, they tend to piece together abstract, morbid phrases. It feels scattered at times, but emotions are seldom well organized. Frontperson Cole Janzen and I talked about themes found throughout Lowfaith’s work and how his childhood and coming of age years laid the groundwork for the band.

The Alternative: How did you get your start in music?

Cole Janzen: My dad is a pastor, which led to me being involved in a youth group that I attended Christian punk shows with. My brother brought home christian punk records, like MXPX and Norma Jean. That started my path down heavy music. I was a drummer in a pop punk band in ninth grade. Then, I did vocals for a hardcore band.

When did you get your start as a songwriter?

I grew up in a military town, so my friends would often move away. When that happened, we’d write a song for the person who was leaving with inside jokes. We were all 13 or 14; it was super corny, but it was fun. 

Corny, sure, but it gave you a start. How do you go about songwriting now for Lowfaith? 

On Loss was a product of three year’s worth of lyrics. Some of them were written while I was finishing college, moving from Wyoming to Colorado, and putting my old band to rest. There were times I felt I was losing something or someone. I’m definitely obsessed with death. I love a lot of existentialist writers. Falling out of the church and being as close to it as I was – with my dad being a pastor – that seeps into our lyrics a lot, and even our band name.

It seems like your upbringing influences the music you make.

It’s kind of wild being 25 and untangling religious guilt. You always think someone’s watching you – and you always think you’re letting them down. I identify as straight, but I’ve always expressed myself more femininely. That was something I hid a lot, being in Wyoming – a super red state – and being involved with a church.

Any personal favorite tracks off of On Loss?

I’ve always really liked “Frail Pose.” It’s about self image and failing to live up to expectations. “Again, Again” is what I’d consider one of my babies. It’s about a repetitive, on-and-off relationship. That song documents those four years of my life. “Aware” is based on the Japanese phrase “mono no aware,” which describes the feeling you get whenever you see something like a cherry blossom and you’re like: that’s beautiful, but it’s going to die soon.  “Saudade” is about putting my old life to bed and leaving people I realized I didn’t need to be around anymore. And “saudade” is a Portugese word that describes strong melancholy and nostalgia.

How did you come up with the concept for the video for “Requiescat”?

That whole song is about feeling like I’m losing touch with all these people. We took the lyrics about reaching out and personified it with a shadowy figure. I’m always chasing after it, but can’t get a glimpse – and when it’s in front of me, I reach out and it’s gone.

What’s your favorite dessert?

I’m not big on desserts. Does a milkshake count? I recently went to a place that does vegan milkshakes. If anything, this can be a plug for WaterCourse in Denver. They’re a great restaurant.

Bineet Kaur | @hellobineet

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