The accolades are just beginning for Lydia Hoglund

Lydia Hoglund (second from left) and her bandmates in Bomba De Luz have summer gigs and high school graduation parties to plan.
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“I’ve been listening to P.O.S. my whole life. Like front row at Soundset, freaking out, then he calls and we start making music.” -- Lydia Hoglund

When Lydia Hoglund steps in front of the microphone and sings, it’s as if she has been performing for a lifetime. Soulful and powerful, the 18-year-old songstress has attracted the kind of attention many young, aspiring artists only dream of.

A year ago, Hoglund was just another teenager, sitting in her room singing covers of her favorite songs while taking a stab at her own writing for the first time.

Now, she`s an emerging artist in the Twin Cities music scene, where she`s had the chance to perform at major venues as lead singer of Bomba De Luz. In January, Bomba graced the main stage for the “Best New Bands of 2012” show at Minneapolis’ historic First Avenue in front of a packed house.

“The most insane moment of my life,” Hoglund said of that show. “I just don’t know how these things happen. It’s really scary and really awesome.”

With her exuberant delivery, Hoglund has stood out among a crowd of emerging Twin Cities’ artists. In Bomba, a tight band of high school musicians that includes guitarist Evan Slack, bassist Gavin Taylor-Stark and drummer Jonas Taghavi, the four friends have continued to turn heads and win airplay on 89.3, The Current. That they’ve all known each other since junior high is a big reason they connect so well, Hoglund said.

“It`s really nice to establish a band with people who are already your friends … so that when you’re on the road, it’s not awkward,” said Hoglund, who attends Central High School in St. Paul. “You know everything about each other.”

A feisty teenager who never takes herself too seriously, she’s humbled by the fact that people are listening to her music.

Andrea Swensson, a local music writer for The Current, has described Hoglund’s voice as “ethereal and elastic,” carrying “traces of emotive songsmiths like Jeff Buckley and Sharon Van Etten.” Hoglund can’t believe the compliment, with any Buckley comparison cause for a freak-out considering she has his lyric, “My fading voice sings of love,” tattooed on her upper back.

She isn’t letting all the attention go to her head, though. At 18, she can’t believe the group is receiving so much attention, so soon. Even better, it’s from Twin Cities’ musicians that she admires.

For instance, Minneapolis singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith (and an instructor of hers at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, where she takes PSEO classes) once paid Bomba De Luz a huge compliment: “I was at the Current today eating lunch, and someone told me I needed to listen to your band.” Or other special moments when local artists on the radio have been asked who they’re digging and say, “I`m listening to Bomba De Luz.”

But as much as Hoglund would like to say being a musician is exciting and easy, she admits that it can be frustrating at times. That can especially be true for a young artist playing 21 and older venues.

“Like, (the other) night, I had the X`s on my hands when I did a show at the Kitty Cat Klub, and they’re like, ‘You`re the underager, we gotta introduce you to the bartender,’ and all this crazy stuff. Which I totally understand, they don`t wanna lose their jobs. But it can be really intense sometimes.”

And with many of these gigs not ending until after midnight, keeping up with school can be difficult. Finding the right balance is also challenging, and something Hoglund still struggles with.

“It`s been really fast paced, so it`s made graduation really hard. Because I gotta go to school, and I have gigs where I have to stay up ‘til three. But it`s kind of exciting to get to tell your teacher, ‘Yeah, I can`t be at school tomorrow, I have a gig tonight,’” Hoglund said.

“You know I guess the balance for me — social life, school, music, interviews, in studio sessions — things really take a back seat sometimes, like my friends and boyfriend, you know. I still haven’t figured it out. I wish I could be super responsible with it and get everything done, and just be like, super on point about it. But it`s really difficult. A lot of people tell me, ‘That’s just how it is.’ It never really figures itself out because there`s always new things … happening.”

Among those “new things”: Last month, she released her latest EP, “The Bedroom Sessions,” a collection of songs she recorded in her bedroom from 2011 to 2013. Two weeks later, Bomba also came out with its new single, “Howl At That Moon.” A full album is in the works, and is expected to be out by the end of summer.

Upon graduating from Central next month, Hoglund is diving full-time into a music career. Her work with Bomba will continue, even as college stretches the band in different directions.

She`s taking next year off from school to finish more music projects, including one with Doomtree co-founder/rapper P.O.S. The moment he tweeted Hoglund about working together was when she knew Bomba’s music had “reached the right people.”

“I’ve been listening to P.O.S. my whole life. Like front row at Soundset, freaking out, then he calls and we start making music,” Hoglund said.

The project with P.O.S. will also feature other Twin Cities artists. After a year of writing together, they’ve begun demoing songs, and the collaboration is expected to be complete sometime next year, she said.

As Hoglund continues to navigate her promising career in the Twin Cities, she plans to return to McNally Smith and finish up the composition degree she started in fall. But even if she wasn’t insanely active in the scene, or didn’t get any press clippings at all, Hoglund would still be making music.

“It`s just something I like to do,” she said. “I would still be doing this if we weren’t in an interview right now. I would be in my room like, ‘Dude, I’m writing this song.’ It`s not something I can stop.”

CHECK ‘EM OUT

Bomba De Luz’s next local show is on May 18 for Art-A-Whirl 2013 at 331 Club, 331 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis. The band plays at 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.bombadeluz.com.

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