Julius Shieh/The Daily Texan
Multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Mini Trees, also known as Lexi Vega, imbues journeys of discovery into each of her songs. Vega views Mini Trees as a project that encapsulates her changed relationship with music, allowing herself to be vulnerable before the vast world.
The Daily Texan spoke to Vega at SXSW about her living room pop genre, musical persona and debut album, “Always in Motion.”
The Daily Texan: How did you come up with your stage name “Mini Trees”?
Mini Trees: I really like mini versions of things. I’ve always collected weird miniatures, and (it’s) been a joke among my friend group for a long time. Whenever people travel and see some mini version of something, they would bring it back for me … I reached this point where I was like, “As long as it’s something that people can remember, then I’m okay with that.” I played around with random ideas and then landed on this one.
DT: How would you describe your “living room pop” sound?
MT: I like the bedroom pop style a lot, and that’s what inspired the name “living room pop” as a sub-genre … For my music, it’s all recorded in the studio, and I work with my friend who’s my producer, John Joseph. We felt like it wasn’t quite bedroom pop in the actual fidelity of the recording because it’s (a) studio album with live drums and all that, but it has some of the same songwriting style and energy of bedroom pop, and I write all the music in my bedroom. It sort of fits, but (we’re) one step (farther) from the bedroom, (so) we were like, “Maybe it’s living room pop.” A lot of it is just the music I connect to.
DT: In “Always in Motion,” you show how life goes on despite what the world has to offer. How has creating this album been a healing experience for you?
MT: I’ve always processed a lot of things through songwriting. Pushing myself to focus on doing a full length album was good because it made me search deeper within myself to find things to write about … Seeing the growth and maturity over the years was helpful for me. A big theme (in the album) is learning how to accept not having answers to everything, being able to settle into that tension but at the same time, trusting that things will continue to move forward.
DT: How has “Mini Trees,” this extension of yourself, helped you come to terms with your identity?
MT: I’m Japanese and Cuban … Doing this project has helped me look at my identity in all its different forms. I think people connect with an artist beyond the music. A lot of times, they connect with (them) for who they are, where they come from and what they represent … Because I was always playing drums for other bands, I sat in the background and felt comfortable there for a long time. Coming out into the spotlight has forced me to reconcile with who I am and be confident to share that with other people.
DT: Among the songs you’ve made so far, which one is your favorite and why?MT: From a songwriting perspective, I’m proud of the way the album ends with “Otherwise.” I felt like it was the first time I really intentionally looked to wrap up that body of work in one song … I wrote it with the intention of (tying) all these different themes together and resolving (them), but it’s ironic because the lyrics end on an unresolved note.