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Mini Trees
Burn Out
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Mini Trees

Burn Out


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In the late summer of 2022, Mini Trees’ Lexi Vega was wrapping up an exceptional year. Her debut album Always in Motion came out while she was on the road supporting Julien Baker in 2021, and she launched into a busy touring schedule, supporting towering fixtures of the indie music world, like Death Cab for Cutie, Thao, Yumi Zouma, and Hovvdy. Suddenly, Mini Trees — a project Vega started on a whim in 2018 — had become a career.

But the thing no one talks about with periods of time that are exceptional is that they are often equal parts amazing and draining. When Vega returned home to Los Angeles after almost two years of touring, she found herself tired and dejected. Rarely do musicians talk about the  emotional toll exacted behind the scenes — the energy it takes to connect with audiences night after night in strange towns; the industry’s insistence on synthesizing your identity into something consumable; the struggle to find joy in commodifying the thing you once did purely for love. “I struggle with the balance of being so emotionally attached to the art that I make and simultaneously trying to build a business out of it,” Vega says.

She pondered quitting. A month passed — no planning, no writing, no recording. But Vega has been playing music since she got her first miniature drum kit at five years old. And so, like anybody for whom music is core to their identity would, she got antsy. She decided to stop worrying about how her next moves would be perceived and instead focus her energy on how to cultivate the most joy.

Returning to the studio with her old friend and producer Jon Joseph (Low Hum, Bayonne, BOYO), Vega pushed herself to experiment with the possibilities for her sound. She pushed for a determinately pop sound with production that was live, organic, and substantive. She and Joseph invited other collaborators into the studio for the first time — Death Cab for Cutie’s keys player Zac Rae (Lana Del Rey, John Legend, Fiona Apple), James McAllister (Sufjan Stevens, Taylor Swift, Big Red Machine), and Jimmy Johnson (James Taylor, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins), an old family friend of Vega’s. The result is Burn Out, a defiantly euphoric five song EP.

The production on Burn Out’s songs shimmers, as Vega explores the pervasive sense of fractured identity, disillusionment, and otherness that has shaped much of her sense of self. On EP-opener “Shapeshifter,” Vega contends with her tendency to change herself to blend with her surroundings. “Tied together pieces of nothing/A tapestry frayed at the edges/Oh tell me when you start to see something/That I can’t see for myself,” she belts over pulsating synths and buoyant drums, referencing the difficulty of locating herself amidst the many binaries and identities she’s pulled between. These disparate identities are reflected in the EP’s cover art, as Vega lies draped over a bed cluttered with discarded clothes, familial heirlooms and mementos strewn at her feet.

The child of a Cuban father and Japanese mother, the question of heritage and how she’s meant to relate to it has long plagued Vega. Her father was a sought-after studio drummer, best known for his work with James Taylor, and her mother sang for a period in the Grammy-nominated jazz group Hiroshima (both of their records are tucked into the EP’s cover art panorama). So for Vega, music and familial identity are tightly linked, especially in the wake of her father’s death when she was a child and the loss of contact with her Cuban relatives. “When I contemplated quitting music I think I felt very scared that I would lose some kind of connection to my dad because he was an incredible musician — I meet drummers all the time who tell me how much they looked up to him. Even though he’s not here to be part of any of this, I think I still feel connected to him through this passion we both have. Because of this, music always felt like a place to belong.”

Jimmy Johnson — her father’s close friend and a surrogate father to her after his death — plays bass on EP-closer “Push and Pull,” in which Vega asks her loved ones to ground her despite feeling pulled between her many warring selves. And on “Cave,” which features Medium Build’s Nick Carpenter, Vega contends with the idea of a self she’ll never know. “You’re never going back there” the two singers belt throughout the song’s build, a lament for life’s unlived trajectories.

The irony of Burn Out is that as vulnerably as Vega grapples with her insecurities throughout the EP, this is Mini Trees’ most assertive and intrepid work yet. Gritty guitars rip through polyrhythmic backbeats, Vega’s voice pressed tight to the listener’s ear, gleaming as it flips into breathy falsetto. These are hooks meant to be belted in loud rooms, and arrangements that sparkle as if they were crafted in million-dollar studios. These songs came mostly out of the same rooms in which Vega made Always in Motion — a testament to the profound artistry and talent that she continues to develop, and a sign that she has a firmer grasp of herself than even she knows.

1. Shapeshifter
2. Burn Out
3. Cave (ft. Medium Build)
4. Sabotage
5. Push and Pull

Pressing Info:
100 Pink & Orange Swirl (RFC Magic Circle Subscription Exclusive)
200 Orange in Purple (Mini Trees Exclusive)
200 Red & Purple Swirl (Run For Cover Exclusive)
500 Orange