Am Freitag erscheint das Debütalbum Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing von LUH – dem neuen Projekt vom ehemaligen WU LYF Frontmann Ellery Roberts zusammen mit der Amsterdamer Künstlerin Ebony Horn. Ein Album, das in seiner Düsternis allerdings meilenweit vom vermeintlichen „Indie-Pop“, den er WU LYF vor der Auflösung der Band vorgeworfen hat, entfernt ist. Grund genug für uns mit ihm über die Motivation hinter LUH und die Entstehung des neuen Albums zu sprechen.
Are you a little bit annoyed by all the journalists asking about WU LYF and your past?
I don’t really find it annoying. I’m cherished and I also try to look at the bigger picture. WU LYF ended a couple years ago, my life changed a lot and I moved on. That distance has allowed me to appreciate much more what WU LYF created in that record and it also rebuilt the friendships with the people in the band. I think it’s a good record. I made it when I was nineteen. It’s part of my history. And LUH is what I’m doing now.So the broken relationships in the band are kind of fixed now?
They are not in a bad place. They are really good friends and people change. You grow differently, become different people. It’s good. I wish everybody well.
You and Ebony started LUH as a couple. Are you, also considering your past, afraid of the whole thing getting too much businesslike and by that destroying your relationship?
I am very aware of that possibility. The basis of LUH and the reason we are working together is purely the joy of making art together, working together, encouraging each other and supporting each other. So if it becomes stagnant and destroying, then it is no longer worth doing it. Commercial success or whatever may come around it is not the motive. The motive is in the creation. And I love the reasons why WU LYF got sallied. It had nothing to do with other people, it had much more to do with my perception and my understanding at that time. I feel like I have grown significantly from that time.
You mentioned „it’s about making art together“. That’s a really interesting concept, because even your Facebook fanpage says LUH is a community not a band.
Oh well, that was a mistake and we just missed to change it. The motive of communication, obviously, is that people around us want us to promote our stuff and make life easier for people. But I see all of this like a funny game, you know. Different mediums to play around with. What is real is the songs and the music, the visual work, the performance and the contact. That’s what is meaningful to me and also the connection with people on a physical level. The rest is just funny games. People are very used to having things put on a plate and being very explained and they are not challenging, not making to think . It’s not like the ambition but a playfulness with everything.
One of the topics you are really into is this teenage angst and I also read the kind of manifest on medium, you wrote, and all together, it really worked for me as a community and „something bigger“ and seemed like a concept to me.
Well, yes, there is a community level of that shared experience. We are part of a much wider community than a LUH Facebook fanpage, you know. I think the interesting thing with feelings of angst is the powerlessness or the scenario of war. The motivation in creation is to try and understand something and thus be liberated or at least distanced from it. You can look objectively rather than be corrupt with it.
Let’s talk about the album which is coming in the beginning of may. Everything was very mysterious, information about the release date for example was hidden very well. Was that a thing for you or was that more of a PR strategy?
I didn’t know when the album was coming out either and the discussion with the record label was still ongoing. We were figuring things out, you know. So in the beginning of LUH in this stage of a more realised project, there were possibilities rather than anything actual. So the release date was as much a mystery to me as to everyone else. There was nothing more behind it.
Can you tell me something about the title of the album? When I first read it and listened to the record it was like „okay, spiritual is not a word I would connect with this kind of music“.
There is this soulful motivation in creation. The album starts very alienating and with the understanding of life and existence. As it progresses, it gets to this kind of awareness and realisation like the depth of itself that’s kind of a transcendent. You get to the point that you see your connection to a much much wider sense of history beyond that. So for me creation is a spiritual practice, it is very mindful and very aware. And I like informative titles for a record being descriptive and there is that flatness to it that I appreciate.
On the album you’re working a lot with big contrasts. There are these lovely indie songs, but also very aggressive electronic sounds. Where is that coming from and was that part of the concept from the beginning?
I think every song is kind of an experiment – you never know where it will end up – and I always try to let it, kind of, evolve itself. So working with Ebony and discussing how the song is attached to the world and what it is about, that really formed the production. You know, with WU LYF I never really wrote songs. We always kind of jammed and the songs were kind of free form things until they were four minutes long an then I tried to write some lyrics really quick at the end and that was it. After that I just wanted to teach myself how to become a songwriter and learn the craft of songwriting. I taught myself to use Abelton. So in that sense every song is really an experiment trying to find the best form and medium for it to communicate. And it reflects the sphere of influences we are in. Ebony is bringing in this wide mosaic of culture and sounds. But there is never something like a generic conversation. We just try to make music, that fills us and makes us feel good or like we’re getting somewhere and expressing something. You know, I don’t really see LUH as a band. Let’s say it’s a substantial union and in this way it’s experimental. In songwriting and also in the audiovisuell.
So the music is more coming from your side of the project and the concept around it is made by Ebony, or how is this working?
We both have individuell disciplines and things we concentrate on and try to progress in. So, for me it’s more the songwriting and for her it’s becoming a director and create visuell worlds. Yes, we work in different disciplines but in constant conversation. It’s like people working on a film and also on a soundtrack all on the same time and just always sharing ideas. It became LUH, just by taking on this identity and the songs and our work is really reflecting on this. Ebony created, kind of, sound pieces. Very art orientated work. But I heard her sing and when we lived together, I tried to sing the chorus of a song, called Loyalty, but I couldn’t. It sounded strange and was not working for me, so I asked Ebony if she would try. And I just left it to her and came back an hour later and was really really excited by what she’s done. That opened up another door of possibilities and developing things on the album.
There is another question I have to ask: There is one song called $ORO. After four minutes it turns, out of nowhere, into this strange aggressive gabber track. WHY?
(Laughing) The album is written like a song cycle and this is like 6 o’clock. The darkest point on the record. The viewing point, lyrically, and the context where to discuss it, is the completely capitalist and cold narration in the song. After moving to Amsterdam we got to some parties and into the dutch gabber heritage. And I was really inspired by it and excited by the, kind of, primal freedom in the music. So in $ORO I got to this point in the song – I wrote it quite linearly – where it lifts and lifts and it grows and it feels like it’s collapsing. You know this Black Friday footage of people? I wanted to make something, produce something that is kind of a soundtrack for this consumer-friendly savage. And actually I just like to watch the reaction of people, when I play it for them the first time. (laughing) It’s interesting, because it’s not trying to be culturally appropriate. But in the end it just worked musically to drop something really heavy. It just felt good.