Q&A: Austin band Ley Line talks touring via public transportation

Brooke Sjoberg

While touring in Brazil, Austin band Ley Line had their van break down not once, but twice. 

They ended up using public transportation to get from one show to another as they traveled between Latin and South American cities, carrying basses and drums from one bus to the next. This and several other touring experiences have served as the inspiration for their next album, according to the four-woman band. 

Before their Austin City Limits Weekend Two Sunday performance, The Daily Texan sat down with Ley Line — made up of Emilie Basez, Kate Robberson and Madeleine and Lydia Froncek — to talk about their experiences touring. 

The Daily Texan: “Ley Line” has some pretty paranormal connotations. How did that become the name y’all chose?

Lydia Froncek: Talking about where it comes from originally, which is like England and the theories with Stonehenge or different places in Europe, but where it came from for us is a poem that Kate wrote that we've since adapted into a song. It's now going to be the title of our upcoming album, We Saw Blue. It's about the way that we are intuitively pulled to different places, to meet different people, to travel the world and to use music as a way to connect to places.

DT: Y’all do multilingual music, mostly in Portuguese. Where did the inspiration for that come from?

Emilie Basez: So my family background was from Argentina, previously Eastern Europe. We all have Jewish heritage in our ancestry. The United States and the Americas in general are tied to the rest of the world. This fascination with traveling and diving into cultures and different places, it's kind of becoming a reflection of how much we care about different places and cultures and the people we create connections with, and how that blossoms through learning another language.

DT: So when your van broke down while on tour in Brazil, what kind of an experience was that for y’all

Kate Robberson:  We saved up our money from working and playing shows that year and decided to invest it in a van instead of renting one. We had a few of our friends that came with us to help drive and help record, photograph and document the trip. And when the van broke down, it was a great time for us to reassess our journey and consolidating and be like, “Okay, how do we want to travel and how do we want to document?” We actually wanted to get more behind the cameras at that time, so we traveled a little bit more with the van. Then we decided to part ways (with our friends), and do it all (ourselves).

LF: The first time it broke down, we traveled by bus like a couple hundred miles. We went to three different cities, (and) played probably eight shows in that time all (using) public transportation, and with a stand-up bass that we rolled that was bigger than the two of us put together and all my drums. 

DT: So how was using public transportation? Did you get to talk to people in the cities you were playing in?

EB: In the majority of Latin American countries, long distance buses are actually like, you can end up in a conversation, but it's a pretty isolated experience. Everyone kind of keeps to themselves, but as far as inner city, absolutely. It gives you an opportunity to speak with people, especially if you're carrying a bunch of equipment people are kind of bound to ask you, “What do you do?”