LUH Interview

What a intriguing yet compelling music journey Ellery Roberts has had?! From Manchester man of mystery to advertising his CD’s for £50 on myspace – it really did seem he had the world bowing at the ‘heavy pop’ pioneer’s feet.

However, Ellery’s band, WU LYF burnt hard and fast, releasing the critically acclaimed Go Tell Fire to the Mountain, with the flame extinguishing and messy split entailing. Ellery exclaiming “WU LYF is dead to me”!

The former frontman, much to the dismay of the internet, went MIA. He released just one song ‘Kerou’s Lament’, with nothing else. No messages, no press releases, no interviewsI understand WU LYF were notoriously anonymous, using the rumour mill to their advantage. However, surely he couldn’t keep doing the same tricks? (eh)

Thankfully, Ellery did learn more tricks, and seems uninterested in such tomfoolery (or brilliance depending on your stance on savvy PR campaigns).  Eventually bounteous information did arise before the former WU LYF frontman had disappeared from public attention. This song which miraculously appeared was ‘Unites’, which appears alongside a rather grandeur explanation:

“A song of longing for balance in a world where we slump & grind to a senseless algoriddim of fractious complexity. A song for lovers, numbered by the placid plateau of conform-core modernity. The personal is political as never before, and all those that make the choice to step away sing Luvah’s Song. I wrote this for you, for her, for every longing breath lost under heaven’s refracted light.”

This was the beginning of Ellery’s new project LUH (Lost Under Heaven). The romantic and artistic collaboration between Ellery Roberts and dutch visual artist Ebony Hoorn. According to pitchfork, they first crossed paths back in 2012 at a party in Manchester, after Ellery had just been involved in a fight with the other guy smashing a wine bottle across his arm. After that moment, and towards the end of the night they “spent more time together”. The rest seems like history.

luh-wu-lyf-band-mute-recordsAmsterdam became a permanent residence for the lovers, where they set on about creating their debut and were signed by mute records. They went to Osea to record, enlisted the help of experimental electronic artist Bobby Krlic (or better known as The Haxan Cloak), who produced the album.

Anyway, their debut Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing is out now! Released last Friday on the same day James Blake and Skepta unleashed their latest releases to the world, and judging by it’s quality it deserves to sit beside these big names.

Based on “ideas not influences”, the lovers describe their album as ‘a song cycle’, to which ‘it is an attempt to chart the journey from alienated material ignorance to the glimpsing embrace of universal cosmic love’. Although, this statement may appear rather verbose, it’s an immaculate reflection of the pair’s massive debut.

Yes, massive is a fair reflection. Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing features raw and soothing vocal interplay between Ellery’s gravel tinged voice and Ellery’s cool and detached tones. It resoundingly works, soothing the intensity of Ellery’s howls. This power and rawness is evident from opener ‘l&l’ where Ebony and Ellery trade blows, yelping “there is life in this early morning/ a life that you want to lead/ if you’re not ready for it/ forget it/ lay down and fall back asleep”.

Whereas WU LYF’s debut Go Tell Fire to the Mountain was a challenging, albeit rewarding listen, LUH is less challenging but nonetheless satisfying. ‘$oro’ encapsulates this view, veering into maximalist production, where dense synths morph through various forms. Further, The autotune is perhaps a confusing affair. However, on repeat listens, it veers through the nature of love and life, dismantling capitalism and taking on the world all through Ebony and Ellery’s, rather dramatic, perspective.

Musically Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing is perhaps an estranged cousin to WU LYF. Both are equally as dramatic and colossal, yet LUH dabs more heavily into electronics, reverb drenched drums and even orchestral. Yet the debut still displays inner beauty, on ‘Future Blues’ still shines brightly despite not shouting loudest.

Although, it could be said that the layers risk becoming suffocating at times, however, Bobby Krlic’s production is impressive, he ensures the ship stays firmly on course. The production should really increase plaudits as an experimental electronic producer.

‘Beneath the Concrete’ is so anthemic, I’m sure the world will hear them them well above the concrete. Ellery howls “your just people trying/ all your just people trying to live/ trying to live a life/ a life worth something more”, over reverb drenched drums combined with glistening synths. Similarly ‘Lament’, akin to the initial ‘Kerou’s Lament’ simply with bigger production resembles the defiant attitude “to powers of old/ to powers that be/ you f***ed up this world/ but you won’t f*** with me”.

 

The self proclaimed lovers on a sinking ship in a world that’s lost meaning, aren’t giving up without a fight. Their message is clear and emphatic, although it may seem like quite a musical journey, it is definitely one worth taking.

Anyway, I had a quick chat with Ebony and Ellery, and discussed their debut. I warn you, they seem to be finishing each other’s sentences at times like ebony and ivory.

Photo - nme.com
Photo – nme.com

Your debut album is out now! Can you tell us what you hoped to achieve with LUH?

Ellery: I guess there is a lot of music and art in the world, at least in my conception, there is an over saturation. We say that the art we’ve made, or have strived to make, comes from a very honest place. It is our experiences, and there is a power in sharing our experiences. So if you want a little view, in what its like to exist from our perspectives then do come. If you don’t, go listen to someone else.

Can you gives us a little bit of background behind the collaboration?

Ellery: When we were working together this comes from a visual arts background. I guess we were just discussing visuals and films and feeling, an ideas and conceptually the approach what the record would say. What we were trying to say and express. Much more so than we just want to make music.

Ebony: A much wider approach than just only music.

Is this illustrated in the ‘Beneath the Concrete’ video?  

Ellery: I’d be making songs and Ebony would be doing visuals, and still currently is doing so.

Ebony: When Ellery finished writing over the demos he would send them and the lyrics over to me so I could approach these in a visual sense. Start to place them in context, then you start to build a world around it and create identity. This was a particularly important element to understand what the project is and our place in it.

I heard you recorded on Osea, what was that like?

Ellery: It was like an estuary in Essex. I really enjoyed it. I wouldn’t live there permanently. for two weeks it was perfect. I really appreciated on a create level to shut off from everything and not have external influences. You can stay in that headspace – sort of like method acting in that sense.

Ebony: There was just four of us. Producer Bobby Krlic and engineer. We did everything together, it was a very lean production.

Was the distinction in vocal style a conscious development from WU LYF?

Ellery: The autotune is used aesthetically in a sort of post human. Lack of human emotion sound. Five years since WU LYF album, hope i have developed as a vocalist. WU LYF was raw in a sense, in the urgency to get it out, this project has been much more considered and developed.

Do you look back on WU LYF fondly? Have you listened to Tom McClung’s project Francis Lung?

Ellery: I look back on the period fondly. I was really proud of what we created. Also a bit of being twenty year olds, it was a bit surreal and absurd. So yeah. But, I’m still in touch with everyone, I hear bits and pieces from them, I wish them all well.

The album sounds massive, how are you going to be able to replicate it live? Who do you have?

Ellery: Steven the drummer, Oliver is on sampler and synth, making the whole show come together. It is important to keep it fluid. There’s a lot of room for live brass and strings.

Will you be able to convey the visual aspects too?

Ebony: We’ve played three or four shows already, and we’ve kind of created banners for stage. In the future we would like to focus on other things. But at the moment it is just focusing on getting the live act together.

Ellery: Its the size of venue is quite limiting in a certain sense. By November we can be more ambitious. I don’t just want to have projected visuals. They’re decent sized venues we’re playing, just talking more in the budget sense.

How does it feel to be announced for Reading and Leeds too?

Ellery: It will be interesting, I haven’t been there since I’ve been there, since 16. Ebony has never been there.

Ebony: I guess it’s all gonna be fun. I’m finishing off my degree and will be finished with everything. We will have a good tour.

Ellery: It’s good to get into the flow of that lifestyle. It’s not a cliche rock and roll poser thing, we’re all quite mindful and together on a certain level. So it’s just interesting.

YOU CAN STREAM LUH’S SPIRITUAL SONG FOR LOVERS NOW AND CAN CATCH THEM AT FESTIVALS THIS SUMMER.