“I think I brought all of the germs in the UK back with me,” Lola Kirke tells us, suffering through the dual effects of multiple colds and a mild hangover the morning after a show at Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge in Nashville.
“It was another Christmas Extravaganza with the ladies who I made the Christmas Alone EP with. I did have a few drinks, and after that I decided to myself that I ought to be more Christmassy. I want to get lights in the front yard and presents for everyone, but I always feel very very strapped for time around this time of year.”
With only a week to go, it feels like time might be running out this year. The actress and singer has already had to reschedule the flights she had booked to see her family in New York because she couldn’t face flying that early in the morning with both a dog and being sick. It feels like the lyrics to her latest holiday song - the title track to her Christmas Alone EP - might be just about to come frighteningly true.
“I think what's mostly true about the song is the desire I have to be both near and far away from my family at the same time,” she says laughing, explaining how the song was partially inspired by the Christmas she did actually end up spend apart from her family last year.
“It really just depends on how everyone's doing that year. The fate of Christmas cheer is in the hands of all. My family lives in New York, so I'm going home for Christmas this year. I'm going to do the opposite of what I do in the song”.
Of course, if she does get stranded alone at Christmas again, she could always watch a Christmas movie!
“Meet Me In St. Louis is the first one that comes to mind,” she tells us when we ask her about her favourite films for the holiday season. “I'm like an old gay man at heart, so I love all things Judy Garland. There's some beautiful Christmas magic that happens in that movie, and it's got the song 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' in”.
“I want to watch movies like White Christmas or Christmas In Connecticut”, she continues. “I want to feel warm and glamorous, like it's the 1940s and I have an open fire and a stocking that has one orange and a gold ring inside it. It's very chic. We all have to dress up and have three outfit changes in my Christmas.
"Maybe there's a man playing a baby grand piano" she continues, "and I descend the staircase in a large fur cape. As I come down, you can see the train of the cape slinking down it. Also, the movie is in black and white, obviously, and I will have a fine couture gown on as well. Anyway, this is just my fantasy Christmas. It's beautiful”.
“I recently just watched the Nancy Meyers movie The Holiday too,” she tells us. “It's crap, but it's great crap. That's exactly what Christmas is all about. That's the spirit. I think that Christmas is very cringe in a lot of ways, but it's also great".
While Kirke is certainly an advocate for Christmas, there are a few things about her own version of it she would immediately change. "I do feel like it should be a little bit later; especially in the States, Thanksgiving and Christmas are so near. If we pushed Christmas by like, a month, I feel like then we would have a better one. Late January is awful; it's like we're all just expected to hibernate and feel like shit until spring comes”.
Although, if she did actually move Christmas to late January next year, she’d just be even more strapped for time than she usually is around the holidays. Kirke is heading out on tour supporting Margo Price in the US at the beginning of February, which she admits is something she’s quietly looking forward to in the New Year, even if it does mean she'll have to rethink her plans for setting up a GoFundMe to move Christmas.
“I feel like I'm old enough now to understand that I won't stick to any of my New Year's resolutions,” she says laughing, wondering how January is going to go for her this year. “It's always like, ‘Eat less, don't smoke, drink less’. Literally don't do anything you enjoy doing. After the Margo price tour, I'm doing a play in New York for five months; Three Sisters by Chekhov. Like all country singers, I also have a penchant for 19th century Russian literature”.
It's unusual perhaps for a country singer, but not that unusual for the kind Lola Kirke is. Her sound is a heavily country-tinged blend of early 80s disco and glossy 70s pop that feels country in the same way that Kacey Musgraves’ star-crossed does, or Pearl Charles or Jess Williamson do.
Produced in Nashville by Austin Jenkins (White Denim, Leon Bridges, Orville Peck), last year’s Lady For Sale was a joyful celebration of a lost era of country pop, where any song off it could slip seamlessly in between Barbara Mandrell and Karla Bonoff on a Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco compilation. It’s country pop as pure fantasy and it’s absolutely glorious.
“I don't think of myself as a country singer”, she says. “I think of myself as a strange person who likes many things. I'm very inspired by country though. I think a lot about why that is, because you know, I'm Jewish and originally from England and I really have no business doing this kind of thing. But then again, that's not true at all; anyone can kind of do whatever they want, as long as they're not ripping off cultures that shouldn't be ripped off".
"I feel like country is kind of fair game," she adds. "I feel like there's a lot of room for complexity in country and a lot of eloquence in the way that that complexity is described".
“There's a lot of humour too, and since I'm obviously a comic genius that really resonates with me”, she says laughing. “I think as long as you tease your hair up to a certain height, anyone could look like a country singer”.
Looking around at her flat at the lack of decorations, unprepared as it is for the holidays, we’re starting to worry that this is going to be another Christmas spent alone for Lola. If she did make it to New York in time to spend the holidays with her family though, she knows exactly how it will play out; it’ll be just like the fantasy Christmas movie she always has in her head.
“My mom has a synthetic pink tree, which is extremely exciting,” she says. “I’ve already told you what happens in the rest of the movie. There's no plot. It's just a long shot of me descending a staircase in a really long robe. Don't forget the detail of the robe slinking down the stairs. The movie is called Synthetic Pink Tree, and there is a song from the movie of the same name".
With the way Lola Kirke's leading her life, don't be surprised if Synthetic Pink Tree is out the in cinemas one Christmas soon.
Lady For Sale and Christmas Alone: Live From The Blue Room are both out now on Third Man Records. Lola Kirke plays the following dates with Margo Price in February 2023.
6th Feb - Phoenix, AZ - Crescent Ballroom
7th Feb - San Diego, CA - The Observatory North Park
9th Feb - Los Angeles, CA - Fonda Theatre
10th Feb - San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore
11th Feb - Arcata, CA - John Van Duzer Theatre, Humboldt State University
13th Feb - Portland, OR - McMenamins Crystal Ballroom
14th Feb - Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom
15th Feb - Seattle, WA - Showbox at the Market
17th Feb - Bozeman, MT - The Elm
19th Feb - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
20th Feb - Madison, WI - Majestic Theatre
21st Feb - Chicago, IL - The Vic Theatre
22nd Feb - Indianapolis, IN - The Vogue