LEA PORCELAIN – Track by Track

Foto-© Kane Holz

Die gemeinsame Geschichte des Produzenten Julien Bracht und des Sängers Markus Nikolaus beginnt in einem Frankfurter Nachtclub – beide eigentlich gut beschäftigt mit ihren jeweiligen Projekten, können sie eines nicht leugnen: Die Chemie stimmt einfach. 2016 mündet diese Chemie dann darin, dass das Duo als Lea Porcelain mit ihrer melancholisch-anmutenden Fusion aus Post-Punk, Indie und Garage urplötzlich auf dem Radar der internationalen Musikpresse auftauchte und Presse, wie Fans im Sturm eroberte. Ein paar Jahre später erscheint nun heute ihr zweites Album Choirs To Heaven und kombiniert gekonnt den Sound der Vorgänger mit neuen Songwriting-Impulsen, so die Band: „We experimented a lot with the new Prophet synth but wanted a rougher and edgier approach than what we did before. This album is supposed to provoke an emotional level in the listener that combines the best of our previous work as well as the new electronics and songwriting arrangements.” Für uns hat das Duo zum heuten VÖ ihres neuen Albums ein Begleitschreiben Track by Track geschrieben.

1. Consent of Cult

The idea of “Choirs to Heaven” was born with that intro. So majestic, so rough. It killed us. This song was made after a very dry period. We had a writers block for literally 9 months. When we dropped “HYMNS TO THE NIGHT”, we couldn’t write a song after, if we tried. It was a combination of elements but “Consent of Cult” was the first one of the many to follow. Julien and I made a bet back then because we were so frustrated. I promised him, I keep a moustache until we managed to write again. This song finally came about a week before our first proper Germany Tour in 2018. Thinking about it now, we were so naive back then. Songwriting was still a mere miracle that sometimes happened. Writing a good tune is an accumulation of ideas and daily effort. So, we did exactly that. It was end of march, our beloved friend and roadie Felix “The Viking” came up to prepare for touring take pictures of us on the road. And us knowing that we’d be touring soon gassed us up so much that we felt like we had finally gotten back our mindset. Everything is possible. It’s never too late. We wrote three tracks in two nights: “Consent of Cult”, “100 Years” and a rough sketch of “Future Hurry Slow”. We celebrated after that two day session and even invited the man from the gas station over into our studio and really felt like the block was over and we were set free. “Consent of Cult” is a very rough song that lyrically contains a very ideological and sweet message. Life is never perfect but you have to accept its imperfections and limitations. That’s the only way it can resemble any sort of perfection at all. You have to consent to be content.

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2. 100 Years

On the hindsight now, it’s actually hard to believe that this was the second song we wrote the day after we wrote “Consent of Cult”. How it came out was a magical happening. We wanted, in this song, to say sorry for all that we had done wrong in this life. And maybe then , we thought, we could be forgiven. “I am sorry for 100 Years. This has made me who I am.” “When I erase it, you appear” is another line, inspired by the Thom Yorke song “The Eraser”, which was on loop on our playlist during that time. Not hard to guess if you look at the lyric: “the more I try to erase you, the more you appear.” It took me away, occupying my thoughts for days. I had to use the same line somehow: “When I erase it, you appear. I found my end here and you won.” It’s undeniable that the unique timelessness and taste of this man and band has inspired us throughout the way of “Lea Porcelain”. I think whatever impact “The Beatles” had on other bands, “Radiohead” and “Thom Yorke” had this impact on us.

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3. Pool Song

One of the most underrated songs at first, the Pool Song, made in Rio, became a real shiner over time. Whenever we played this to people, the sound would just stick out compared to what we had done before and its almost got an RnB touch underneath a deep and warm synthy summer breeze. We went to Brazil for 3 weeks, in the early songwriting process of “Choirs to Heaven”. Just after our first proper Germany Tour in 2018 and the first big headline shows sold out – we had enough of the road and were eager to sit all day in the sun, read, write poetry, do synth lines and play guitar. We also got a pretty good look at the fascinating city that Rio de Janeiro is and its duplicity: horrifying on one side and totally unique and amazing on the other. We feel this all floated well into the track. There is a certain vague sadness about the way the song comes along. Almost like we didn’t want the time to end. We had no purpose to be
there, it could have been any other spot in the world. But it was Rio. Thanks to Uwe, the owner of the Funkhaus, who offered us his house in Santa Teresa. We sold out Funkhaus “Saal 2” and this was our present. On the hindsight, it could’ve only been that city. And maybe that is why it was so hard to part from it after 3 weeks. We had learned to live again, found fresh inspiration, recovered and we were eager to write more and change a few major things in our life in order to regain our freedom as artists and as people and refuel the band and friendship for the next step. The next day, we took the LH500 back to Germany.

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4. For Everything You Are

We think it would be easiest to describe this track as the start of something new. A kind of farewell song. It’s not really a good description but it’s how we felt, when we made that song. It was like we needed a very rough start, something that starts almost like an opera or similar to what we did on the first album with “Warsaw Street”. We knew we needed something that was similarly epic but couldn’t just let it go into this direction alone. What we wanted was a surprise also for us. It needed breaks, it needed a heartbeat and we needed a different kind of attitude for this song. There was actually a woman coming into the studio from a film shoot downstairs at Funkhaus. “Don’t tell me this is you!” We were so intimidated by her compliment. Of course, we told her it was us and it was probably going to come out the next year. This was the biggest compliment we had ever gotten from people coming to our studio – so unrelated and still connected – she needed to know what it was and where to find it. It was clear for us that the song made the album the same day. We knew, there was more of those people out there wanting to know.

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5. Future Hurry Slow

This song was actually written a long time ago in march 2018. It was actually the third song we had originally made for this album. We couldn’t record it right and had a very synth and drum heavy version, at first. Then we tried to calm it down but we could never really get it right until our time in Spain. A friend of ours, Liam, reminded us that we should strip it down to the bone and play it as it’s meant to be played. Only with one instrument and the voice. Sitting outside there by the grass, looking over to the ocean, feeling this wind and the breeze kind of reminded us that the song had to remain the same. Even when stripped down to the bone it needed to touch the heart the same way. So, when we played those three simple notes, in such a silent and essential way simple, my voice started to evolve and I could really find that melody. It was a very similar melody to the original, but the way it was sang was so much deeper and so much more intimate and close. When tears started rolling down my cheeks, Julien and Liam looked at me. All Liam said was, “You see! Now, there is the song!”. In the evening, we recorded it perfectly with a beautiful Neumann microphone, with no reverb and nothing. As dry as possible. We added the layers of reverb and effect after, but the way this song was made was in its purest form. And that taught me a lesson that I will always appreciate and I will always cherish and be thankful thankful for. The song is still a song, if it touches your heart, the same way, stripped down to the bone. That was probably the best song-writing lesson we ever got and we’re very thankful because we’re always reminded that this song was very loud and it was too noisy to touch anyone’s heart. Only when we played it again and listened in peace and paid attention to the silence, we could feel the tone.

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6. Choirs to Heaven

This song existed in its rawest demo version for maybe almost a year until we rewrote it
during our time in Tarifa, Spain. The 2 verses “We’re alone in this world” were exactly the same but we had a very repetitive chorus without any choirs or hook-line. The song was called “Sore topic” and it literally was the sorest one to put to a finish. We left it lying
around for months and months, from autumn 2018 to spring 2019. It was almost never finished and discarded. We both could only agree to disagree on this one – but the verse was so strong that it left such a deep memory – it had to come back somehow. Eventually in Spain, we had the time and patience and such a good vibe, breaking down the ideas we had and restructuring songs on the piano. “Choirs to Heaven” came upon us when dawn showed its most beautiful colours. The Spanish stars in the sky and Moroccan hills on the horizon. Surely it’s one of the most dreamy songs with all the space and poetry to get lost in. It captures the beauty of melancholy and the actual happy feeling of understanding your own solitude. It feels and sounds like we spent a lot of time by ourselves, thinking and going on long afternoon beach walks, with the dry salt lingering on our skin. This track was written in Berlin, but finished in Spain. When we think back on our writing time in Spain, we always remember how everything was in peace and balance when we recorded this song. There was beauty in the imperfection of this song that still made it a whole. We felt an unpredictable future ahead of us and all that we had was us and this new song that would become our guard and umbrella for the next chapter. To this day, we still feel that we will be supported by this song for the rest of our lives. All of a sudden, what we once thought was incomplete, appeared in our ears and understanding as some kind of perfection.

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7. For the Light

“For the light” is one of the songs we made during our stay in Spain. In that period we actually wanted to finish the album but ended up doing so much basic songwriting that we felt we had to do a more acoustic EP upfront to let this all out. “Love is not an Empire” was the first one recorded on Spanish soil. “Till the End” followed and then “Choirs to Heaven”, but even though we had plenty ideas, we were a bit fed up with the usual writing. From what I remember I believe I was making the 5th round of Gin Tonics when, on my my way to the others, manoeuvring the drinks into the room where we had the studio, I tripped on some fire wood that was lying randomly on the floor, falling onto the nearby oven. The skin from my shoulder was stuck onto the hot oven pipe and we literally had to peel my arm of it, realising I had the most brutally burned skin ever. I didn’t really feel much pain at the time. It was the probably the gin and the adrenaline felt because of the track that distracted me from the actual pain. Unaware of the aching pain I would feel the next day, Julien kept playing the track over and over, adding some layers on it with the prophet and modular system. We probably listened to this track 100 times that night. We all went to bed and the next morning we woke up, knowing that we brought something special into our lives. Now I wear the scar that I have on my shoulder with pride. This scar is called “For The Light”.

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8. Sink Into the Night

This song is one of the random lucky moments when the the blind hen finds the grain of corn. Intending to just fuck around with the Wurlitzer Piano that we got from a friend’s studio that is right beneath ours, we stumbled upon these chords with Liam, who we also wrote “Love Is Not an Empire” with, as well as many other great songs. Very quickly and nonchalantly the lyrics felt like an improvised rap battle, but then we brought in this very high falsetto choir and the song took off by itself. We invited some friends over for Sake and just kept recording and mixing while the others were in the room. A beautiful and unexpected chance that sometimes seems so easy to get if your expectations are limited. Have we ever felt more free about falling? Don’t think so. With all the words spoken that still could never explain the moment, we sank into the silence of the night, together.

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9. Ohio

The story behind “OHIO” is that the song was done in summer 2019. We were approaching a near end of the writing period and the album was in sight.
The song was made after a writing session that didn’t work out for us. We always try to work with other people but sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. This time it didn’t work out and the songwriter left very angry and he was very annoyed by us, yelling that we did not understand anything about music production or pop music or anything. We wouldn’t see a hit if it was lying in front of us. So he left. We then we started with a drumbeat and we just really wanted dark synths and no more of the fake songwriting following ideas of others. After we did our 2 main elements, drums and synths, I just took this poem that I really like by a writer called Lucie Brock-Broido and changed some of the lyrics, so that I could make them my own and turn the words into something that suits the darkness of the song in more romantic way. This text is supposed to be an apocalyptic love story of the world ending and 2 people only thinking of spending the end with each other. The world has become something we don’t understand but “I just want to be with you, no matter where you are. I’m going to go there now.” That’s the feeling. When Julien made the production and the drums, it was so clear to us where the lyrics need to be. We had to boost it with some guitars and we were inspired by ‘Bloc Party’ and ‘Arcade Fire’ songs and all these 2010 bands we used to listen to. I think this song has a very unapologetic attitude. It’s not trying to be pretentiously cool or unnecessarily modern. It’s just really something from where we come from and I think a lot of people still like that sound as much as we do. We were like “okay, we love this piece of music and there are people out there who think the same way as we do”. Even though it’s a rock-a-like 2010 feeling. We are still human and we still sometimes love the past as much as we may feel for the future.

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10. Shoot the Moon

This is probably also another one of our favourite songs considering that all songs we release are in a way our favourite, but this one was pure joy of creation. We had to experiment and find a few new things. We went around the studio of a friend in Funkhaus, Nico Rebscher and borrowed a bit of equipment from him to make some beautiful noise. The lyrics are somewhat created around the book I was reading at the time. It’s this book by Greta Thunberg titled “No One is Too Small to Make a Difference” and it really touched me. Her passion for the planet, the future of her generation and how she got involved into politics so early. Anyways, we are not too political actually. At least in our music. Sometimes it kills the aesthetic of sound to squeeze a narrow or defined opinion into the song. It’s not necessarily necessary for the creation of art. But how can you not be a little political in this current state of the world? With climate change and now the pandemic and all the bad that you see, even if you’re trying to stay positive. You can’t look away from what is happening. Shouldn’t we care? Shouldn’t we take care of our afterlife or of our current situation? We felt we needed to. So, this is our protest song.

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11. Just a Dream

This song was the last one that we made that made the album. It was during our stay in L.A. and we’ve been writing and going from studio to studio non-stop. We didn’t know anyone in town, so we just went and introduced ourselves everywhere we went. We have to thank Seth and Gala at this point for making so many connections for us whilst we were there. “Just a Dream” was the outcome of many funny and many failed studio sessions during that time. We especially went frequently to the valley to a guy that Gala introduced us to. His name was “Ayler” and he himself remains a mystery to us until this day. His father was a poet and he was in the New York film business, but also club owner running the fashion brand “Philipp Ayler” and had recently started producing music. This counts as one of the many moments that are worth living for. I don’t think we will ever forget that night even though it started in such an unusual way. What happened there was pure magic and we shared each others passion with almost total strangers. There was a trust and a truth in there, we couldn’t understand it. We just had to feel. This definitely finished the album for us. For the first time, we felt like we were real songwriters, standing at the top of the world, just enjoying one of the happiest days of our lives.

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Bedroomdisco-Gründer, Redaktions-Chef, Hans in allen Gassen, Golden Leaves Festival Booker, Sammler, Fanboy, Exil-Darmstädter Wahl-Hamburger & happy kid, stuck with the heart of a sad punk - spreading love for great music since '08!

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