Veröffentlicht am 6.05.2016 | von Dominik0
LUH – Interview
Eine kratzige Reibeisenstimme, die einem gleichzeitig so bekannt vorkommt, wie unheimlich erfrischend neu. Ja, Ellery Roberts‚ Stimme, zuvor bekannt vom damaligen Hype-Mysterium WU LYF, hat eine neue Heimat gefunden. Heute erscheint das Debüt von LUH, bei dem er mit seiner Partnerin Ebony Hoorn, einer Amsterdamer Künstlerin, die im Bereich audiovisueller Medien arbeitet, zusammen arbeitet. Und das nicht nur auf Musik beschränkt ist, sondern sich als komplettes audiovisuelles Kunstprojekt entfaltet. Wir sprachen mit den beiden im Interview über Vergangenheit, Gegenwart, haunted houses, Kunst, Beziehungen, Einflüsse und natürlich auch über ihr großartiges Debütalbum ‚Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing‚!
When you quit WU LYF you said that the band would not be important. Now you are returning with a new project and a new album. What brought you back to making music?
Ellery: Leaving WU LYF was the result of a long period of frustration and relationships which I think influenced my perception of making music. It felt like a tedious pursuit without much worth. And it took me quiet a long time to get back to a place where I appreciate the power of music has and can have. And working with Ebony allowed a different side of my songwriting to develope.
It’s been more than three years since founding LUH. What did you do the last years? When did you meet Ebony? And how did you start to make usic together?
Ellery: I met Ebony in 2012 towards the end of the year. I have spent the last three or four years between London and Amsterdam. Where I have just been working, you know, working things out, making things work. Me and Ebony were in a relationship and living very closely and the music in a way is the documentation of that time. It’s a reflection on the early years of our relationship. We started working together very naturally. There was a song that I can sing very well and had heard Ebony sing, she wasn’t a singer in the sense of having the ambition to sing, but her voice sounded nice. And it worked really well for the track and it just gave a new possibility for a new feature of songs.
How did you come up with name LUH and what meaning does it have to you?
Ebony: We came up with the name LUH when we were in Thailand for about two months. We decided to go there around summer and stay there for a bit. And I guess during talking out of nowhere this name popped up and I shared it with Ellery. And then we said we should do somthing with this. And then later we gave it the Lost Under Heaven meaning, which then again is for us the meaning to be like this dou or just a person placed into the wider scope of the world and to just try to making sense of it all.
LUH isn’t only a music project but also has both of you do art, photography, manifests and more. What importance to you feel in each of the individual art forms for the project?
Ebony: I’m coming from an art kind of background. I’m studying at the Rietveld art academy in Amsterdam. And for me it’s very very normal to work with more than one medium. So even to get across the idea or the feeling or the story or world I think it’s really important to get it as clear as possible with a variety of different mediums.
Who is responsible for which part of it?
Ebony: I think we are both equally responsible. But I take part of the creation mostly on me but then do talk alot. Sometimes we are putting things on the table and we are sitting and are trying to see: ok, Ellery can come and have a look at this, Ellery might like to change something. And I think this is the way we work. Alot of communicating and sharing. And that’s how you get sparks of ideas. I think this is the main thing, the main core in how we create.
Ellery: Ebony in a sense is the creative director, she has got the final say and the final cut on the work. And I am plowing the fields, making little bits and pieces.
Can you tell us a bit about the production process of the new record? What was the best and the worst moments during the process
Ellery: The record was made over about a 18 month period by me on my laptop, then sharing stuff with Ebony, then Ebony also working on little bits and pieces. And then after about a year of that we had a finished piece that we were happy with to an extend but we could envision a wider scope. So we started speaking to potential producers and came across Bobby who goes under the name The Haxan Cloak and who we knew for his solo work and never really considered him as a producer. But he is a multiinstrumentalist and just has a really deep love of music and we connected with him really quickly, not just on musical terms, but on a more soulful wider scope of creation and how we work and the ideas and the themes of the music we are making. So this is maybe unlikely hookup but it worked perfectly. He suggested this island called Osea which is an isolated island in the south of England. There is a tide and you can only access it by boat or you can drive along victorian causeway but that is only available four hours a day. Very isolatied, nobody lives on it, but there is a couple of buildings you can rent. One being a studio, a kind of small studio, like a cottage with a shed in a field. We stayed there for two weeks and sort of lived in this semi-uthopian world, working on our music 247, it was springtime, the sun was just coming out, the winter was dying away. It was a really beautiful time, there was so much positive energy and so much support, discussion and alcohol that we had. I mean it was a beautiful time. Some of those moments I really treasure, looking back at photographs is like when you are being on a phantastic trip. And I think it was really neccessary to do, to reimagine everything that we have been working on for twelve months, writing and fiddling around on computers to suddently give it this two week intense physicality. Performing the songs, doing all the vocals, all the piano, some drums, bits of just messing around with effects. You knoe, it’s like reinventing the songs. And I feel it gave a kind of energy and cohesion to the work, like an identity to the whole sound.
Ebony: For two weeks you are completely in this world of creating. You don’t brake it up and have to get back into the, how do you call it? – the zone again.
Can you tell us an anecdote from the making?
Ellery: Allegedly the place we were staying was one of the most haunted in England. You know these redicilous documentaries… So Bobby was telling us there was a certain subway stop in London that apparently had alot of paranormal activity. People seeing things, it’ strange, it’s now shut down. And they did some studies on it and they found that there was a very very very low subfrequency ringing in the subway thing. Like almost imperceptible. But apparently studies have shown that that frequency (laughs) opens the gates of hell. I don’t know, it has some sort of cognitive effect. So we were hoping to see a ghost, I was really up for it, for a world view changing thing. To me a ghost would challenge all your material notions of life. But we hadn’t. So in the last night we set up all the speakers and the Haxan Cloak, you know, he practices witchcraft (laughs) when he puts on his skirt. So we set up all these speakers and played this low frequency and we sat there for about half an hour and it just kind of made us feel a bit sick, but no ghosts. So, there is an anecdote.
For the record you did work together with Bobby Krlic alias The Haxan Cloak – can you explain how he came to the job, how he works and how he contributed to the songs?
Ebony: When we decided to potentially work with him we set up a meeting and we met somewhere around London to have a chat and see if he was the right person. When we met it all felt instantly easy and comfortable and after that we decided to make a test with the track Lost Under Heaven so we went two days into the studio, we did the track, and it all went really well. We had a good work athmosphere. And then after that we decided to go for the album. Ellery was developing the songs for quiet a bit.
Ellery: In relation to the production I had kind of finished the songs and sort of gave him a sonic pallet, like put him in a world, a certain sound. But I’d say the real beauty of working with Bobby is that he could create and flesh out ideas that were suggested by me, like I had a thought of how I wanted it to sound but no ability to turn that into reality. And he has a very meticulous, in-depth, calm approach to music. He is very internal. He said „The Haxan Cloak“ is when he puts on head phones and sits on his own and is just in the computer doing whatever he does. I don’t really know what he does when that happens. He puts a cloak over the top. But there were moments were he brought the subtleties into this record that really give this athmospheric depth. It’s really actualizing ideas.
We read that you both were influenced by Buckminster Fuller, Joseph Campbell and Marvin Gaye – could you describe how you first were introduced to them and in which way they influenced you?
Ellery: Let’s start with Joseph Campbell. A dear friend Simone Becks, one of the greatists artists of his generation, coming out of Amsterdam, we were having a meal with him and we were playing him the record and he started talking about Joseph Campbell. And I had come across him in different tetxs but hadn’t really known his work in depth. And he was basically explaining how Joseph Campbells heroic cycle fitted perfectly over the record we made, the record in reference to Marvin Gayes’ „What’s Going On“, we were inspired by this idea of a song cycle and it being a cohesive work that has like a movement, that takes you somewhere, takes you on a journey, takes you somewhere. All these ideas I had sawing together. And I think Buckminster Fuller, again I’m not sure where I came across him or read about him or heard his name, I just looked into him and his Critical Path and some of his other books. I mean he is just an inspiring incredible human being. He put his lifes work into progressing things for humanity. Trying to look at the world and the problems in the world and think about what we can do better. Another way is possible, there is an alternative to the way that takes you down this paths that are kind of dubious.
Ebony: And one of his main ideas, the Dymaxion Map, was really exciting for us. He kind of showed the world as one island. And just the idea to look at the world as one island and to not see borders is a beautiful way to look at the world.
Ellery: He goes with this idea of Spaceship Earth. There is a small rock, covered in water flying in outerspace. There is much more commonality than people … and you know, he was making his book in the 60s, 70s, but you read it now and it has workable solutions that can be implemented. Maybe they aren’t good for profits, but… So, he was just an inspiring person for us to look at.
‚United‘ is one of our favorite songs from the record – can you tell us what it is about, how it was done and if there is a story behind it?
Ellery: When I wrote it I had a little celebratory moment because it was the first time I felt like I wrote that a proper song in a day. Most of the times I spent months procrastinating and fiddling around changing little bits and pieces. But this song cameout almost fully formed. When it was written there was this event in the Netherlands called Kingsday. When my close friend Ryan Doyle came over from England, we went with Ebony for some parties, having a good time. But there was a particular moment of intrest where me and Ryan are having this conversation. I have known him for along time and he was saying how good it was to see me and Ebony together and how our relationship was balanced in our more selfdestructive tendencies. And this conversation left with me this sort of balance, maybe opposites in balance, a union. Yeah, and there is this poem by Rudyard Kipling called If that I was looking at in the same week, just came across coincidentally. And it has these couplets in balance of each other. And this stayed in my mind and then the riff of this song came out. It was a beautiful day, I just sat at this canal by the studio space we rent, I sat there with a guitar and the song sort of came out to me. And I made a demo that evening and then we rerecorded it a couple of months later and that was basically it.
Ebony: It was also the first song that we put out as LUH, the first one with a video.
Ellery: It was the first song I wrote reflecting on the relationship me and Ebony are having. And in that sense it became the first LUH song. It was the first song where I was like ’maybe I should write about something else’. Before that I would write these political sort of Situationists, intelectual pop songs that were not so much fun for anybody involved. So this was the first song which was maybe more honest, more powerful for that and it became LUH.
You are both partners in the musical project, but also a couple – in your opinion, does it make it easier or harder to be both working and being together?
Ebony: I think that really depends on the person who is doing it. Last year I took a gap year and we moved back to Manchester to work for a whole year on the project. Really developing it’s identity and figuring out what it was. And also figuring it out how it is to work like a couple and being in a relationship as well. It was a really good time to get everything straight and just figure out ’how do I have to treat you to get a similar response back’. But I think it is something really beautiful because it allows us to start to tour alot and see different places in the world, meet people, and doing it all together. In the long run there are people coming it, people from the band, I think it makes a really good work relationship at the moment.
Ellery: I think we both have personality-wise quiet a clear understanding of ourselves and our work. But through knowing each other and working together we find out more about ourselves, we become to know ourselves better. And in reflection of the other it gives a transparancy or a honesty. There is alot of absurdity in existing in this world and promoting music. There is alot egoic encouragement but working together gives us balance. Ebony knows when I am being an asshole and I feel like an asshole just by the way she looks at me. (laughs) This at least me makes me more honest more thruthful work in this way.
Ebony: It costs a lot of time and investment. It doesn’t just go with the snap of a finger. Of course it takes energy. If you want to work on something you have to nurture it and you have to put time and energy into it for it to work.
Recently you, Ebony, performed for the very first time on stage. After that you played two or three more shows. So how did it work out for you?
Ebony: It went really naturally. So the first show was Berlin. And I didn’t really know what to expect. So I had this nervous excitement, but as soon as the band started the introduction piece and I was watching because I come on stage a little later, the moment I came on stage I got this rush. But then after I felt really comfortable because there is this really good connection with the band and they are very well rehearsed which gives us the freedom to really go into the performance element. It was really nice to do the first show in Berlin and to do the last show in London, where we really gave it all and it was bursting with energy. But it’s really interesting, as soon as you finish a show you still have this energy so you have to learn how to cope with that.
Ellery: You get the blues, you get the Janis Joplin blues. (laughs)
Back to our first question – when quitting WU LYF you, Ellery, stated „There’s blood running down streets of every city in the world, what’s a song to do, pretend it mean everything/nothing to you.“ – how do you feel about the world today and did you find a meaning in your music for you/the world now?
Ellery: I guess I feel pretty similar about the work today as I felt then. I think the main difference is my perspective of where I stand in the world. When I wrote that piece of text I was really going in depth on a study of economics, political structures … taking all very seriously and also taking up problems that are not my own. Sort of rather than looking at myself and looking at my place in the world and my participation in … I was creating the illusion of I am separate, this is fucked and I’m ok. The whole thing of Lost Under Heaven is: your part in there, I’m part of the situation and the way the world is and I’m a participant in it, I create that. I regards to that I feel the only thing to do or I can do or anyone can do is to live conciously, be aware of and have the selfreliance and discipline to do something positive. I guess that’s another thing. creativity is a positive thing. Depending on what you are creating of course. But I feel like we are creating something from a truthful place and an idealistic, romantic place that envisions doing something better. Or not so much better, but…
Ebony: Focusing on the positive. It’s very easy to focus on the negative and say ’oh, we’re living in a shitty time and everything is wrong’. But thats so easy to go down to so it’s really interesting to positive aspects and see ’if it’s that shit how can we change it? How can we move forward?’. It’s for us really important in our work to reflect upon the world, to reflect the time we’re living in to see what’s happening around us and to just see what’s happening as well. To just stay connected as well.
What are you doing when you’re not making music?
Ellery: (laughs) Netflix and chill is what we do when we are not making music. Well, Ebony does more than me.
Ebony: I’m in a really busy period at the moment, I’m working on my graduation project as well which is going to be one week of exhibition. And then next to that we spend a lot of times in the cinema. There some really good movie theatres im Amsterdam which show art house movies. And we go to museums or just walk around in the city.
Ellery: I’m interested in sculpture and I’d like to read some books about sculpture. I think about one day carving with a knife on some wood.
What did you learn in 2016?
Ebony: I learned that it’s a full year of possibilities. It’s not really like learning, I have no felt like ’oh, I learned something new’. But the ability to perform maybe?
Ellery: Ebony had a astrological reading and I think we learned the uncanny accuracy of the moment she was born and the alignment of the stars and it’s reflection on her personality. I learned alot about Ebony just by reading from this chart. Now I’ve got a written proof, a codified law where I can be like ’oh this is why this is happening’. (laughs) But so far this year I’ve learned that when you are doing something from a positive place and you just involving people very open armed then it’s like a contagious energy and excitement which is just really nice. Working with more and more people who are coming from a … there is no reason not to have fun so let’s just have fun with this.
How would your „Bedroomdisco“ look like?
Ebony: Tropical! I think we made a really nice bedroomdisco once. It was winter and we were in London in Ellerys room and we turned up the heat in full blast and we played this tropical mix tape.
Ellery: … green lights. And she is missing the most valid part which is that we both took LSD. So that was a disco right. So being in a warehouse, put on some green light, turn up the heat, listen to tropical music and take acid is beautiful. (laughs)