As a music writer who’s supposed to help guide people to the most worthy holes to shove their money, time and psyches into (because spending any of those things on your own children is simply preposterous), I always worry a little bit that I’ve tumbled way too far down the rabbit hole of my own personal tastes to be useful to anyone else. Is this death metal record actually boring as fuck, or am I just tired of death metal today? Does this drone really wake the nihilistic serpent inside me, or am I ignoring the fact that there’s absolutely no defensible music anywhere within its 79-minute-59-second runtime? Mostly I’m pretty confident, but I worry.
Like now. With LowCityRain. Skeptical at first of the choice of band name, I pushed play and fell hard. Been listening to this album every day for a couple weeks now. Sometimes more than once. I love this sound. And, like I said, I worry that I’m full of shit. The sound is full-tilt ‘80s [fill in the blank]-wave, but my love can’t be based on nostalgia because I never listened to anything that cool during the actual ‘80s. The album is streaming on YouTube (embedded below) so you can check it out yourself. Maybe you’ll love it inexplicably, too.
LCR mastermind Markus Siegenhort, also of post-black darlings Lantlôs, dug deep and found lots to tell us about the music and his relationship to it. Dive into the bliss-blossom songs, then read up on where they came from.
Who contributed to the LCR process, and how did you get them together?
There wasn’t really something I had to put together. Almost everything on the album is just me. There are some contributions by friends, though. For example, some drum loops played by Felix, the drummer of my main band Lantlôs. Laura, who is a friend of mine, [loaned] me her voice for the first track on the album; Andy Julia of Soror Dolorosa did vocals for the track “Nightshift”. Getting these guys together wasn’t difficult at all – like I said: they are friends! And I always try to work with friends in the first place… it just feels better if I have a personal relation to the people I work with. I like that!
What was the writing process like?
Well, first of all it starts with a certain feel, and that’s for all of my music. And the goal of my writing is to print this feel as accurate as possible. I remember that I wrote most of the album during spring/summer 2012. I was out all the time with my friends, enjoying the weather, chilling at a lake or some calm place, being high all the time. Those were great, warming and fulfilling afternoons and evenings. I had a very specific overall sweet, unreal feeling and view towards life. In the mornings I always went to the studio. It all feels like one vague and blurry but kind of blissfull time, when I think back now. I was in a constant hazy bubble, if you know what I mean – I felt like going on different soils as everyone else, somewhat blissfully isolated. With that state of mind it felt so natural to write these songs. It did not even really feel like active writing. Most of the time I just started with exploring sounds, like keyboard tones or drum samples and from that point on everything just went sort of automatic. Hours melted and everything happened so fluently. So the songs were written with this feel I had that I tried to print. I messed around with sounds – those somehow merged to melodies, bass lines and drum beats. A weird and apathetic creative stream.
How long have these songs been around?
Like I said above most of the songs were written and recorded during spring/summer in 2012. There are some older songs on the album though. For example, “You Are Everyone, You Are Everywhere” was the first LCR track I wrote. I think this was some time in 2010 or so. But I didn’t think of writing a whole album back then… I was just sort of in the mood to write a wave track. So it took me a whole year I think to write another wave song – “Grey View” – that I wrote for this girl I used to meet. This was actually the track that made me want to make a whole album or band. For some songs I can’t exactly remember when I wrote them, because, like I said, times were blurry and hazy.
What was your experience recording LCR?
Like I said already, I remember being in sort of a creative stream and the circumstances in my life were important. It didn’t feel like I was writing the songs. They wrote themselves. When writing the songs I felt that the feelings I wanted to express grew stronger and stronger. They were so present that I got high on them. Almost like I could actually touch them. It was meditation on my own feelings. Something spiritual. It was pretty massive – I left the studio with the feeling that I actually created something and it felt good. The songs, or more the feelings of the songs were haunting me also outside of the studio. I carried them with me, you know? I guess you know the feel, when you really, really like a song and it plays over and over in your head. But it wasn’t really like the songs were playing, but the feelings were so strong and so present. Like I said, I was somewhat blissfully isolated in that time, was high all the time and wherever I was, I was with my head up in the clouds with these feelings.
Do the lyrics come from an important personal place or are the vocals mostly a human voice anchor to the music?
Subjects are mainly about love. In detail – appartment [sic] stories, depression, craving, dancing, fucked up disco nights, loneliness, drugs, rainy days, the night, the fatal but also about the sun, the far, the ocean, summer, mornings, clarity, the soft etc. It’s true stories and stuff that I came up with in the mood. So it’s kind of a mix of what you asked.
Is LCR meant to be a stage performance act as well as a recording project?
Don’t really know yet. Two friends of mine and myself recently discussed trying out to rehearse the songs next weekend, but we don’t want to force anything. The songs on the album are actually the first wave songs that I ever wrote so I’m new to this. Also rehearsing stuff like that is totally different from a “real” band rehearsal, you know like with a guitar, a bass, drums and stuff due to all the electronic elements. So, we’ll meet up, try it out and see how it works.
Is there any particular reason or drive for tapping the ’80s sound?
Well, pretty much because I love the 80s – for the plastic vibe, for the martial image, the cold, plain and the shimmering and high life style. Everything was so big, so glossy, yet so superficial. I think especially the 80s synth and New Wave music has something certain to it that I really really like – it is catchy, poppy but distant, static and cold at the same time. Depressive and urban music you can dance to. I love that! I also love the clothes people used to wear, the style and what was “cool” in the 80s. And with all music I listen to, I try myself to make songs in that style.
How has your LCR experience differed from your other musical work?
Not so much actually when it comes to the writing. I am not the kind of a genre thinker anymore. Don’t get me wrong – I used to be one: Elitist – fuck everything but my thing. But you know, you get older. Now I’m more open to different styles, and more and more I feel that music doesn’t define itself via its style, but through an atmosphere, through the feelings. A minimal techno track can be as dark as a black metal track – that’s what I’m trying to say. Whatever, Lantlôs is of course different in terms of style and the overall feel, but still it’s me making music. So, it felt natural, like you know, I was doing my thing.