Interview: Luluc – Sculpting New Sounds

Australian indie-folk duo Luluc, comprised of Zoe Randell and Steve Hassett, have just released their new album Sculptor. This is the band’s third full-length release and it is sure to engage many old fans and attract plenty of new ones. Recently we caught up with Zoe…

Is your songwriting process repetitive or does it change based on the path the song takes?

It’s always a bit unique. Some parts of songs can come about in what seems an accidental way. But the more you do it the accidents keep happening! There are a lot of repetitive aspects though. The main thing I need to do is create space, so I work in blocks of time, 90 minutes, phone off, and I stay put, at the desk with my guitar and pens and books.

What changed the most and what changed the least comparing all three of your releases?

Our first album Dear Hamlyn was minimalist. We avoided almost anything electronic, and wanted to create a mood piece, that allowed a complete space and reverie of it’s own. On our second album Passerby, we experimented more, as the songs for that record needed more elaborate scenes and worlds of their own. We collaborated with Aaron Dessner, recording in his Brooklyn studio where he had lots of instruments and toys to create interesting tones and colours. Sculptor, our latest, was recorded in our new studio we built in Brooklyn, and again we explored ideas and experimented more widely. Steve created a lot of the parts and layers in a very impressionistic way. We also used synths for the first time on this album, on songs like Cambridge and Kids, they allowed us to create a deep and cinematic atmosphere.

The overall sound of the music generates a calming, low-energy paradise. Can we ever expect a shift from the acoustic and mellow theme to more of a louder, upbeat vibe?

Anything is possible! It all depends on the songs. They really dictate a lot of this. And I try and listen to the ideas and see what they need. You can’t really push a song into something it doesn’t want to be. Also music writing is influenced by your environment and state, so it’s kind of hard to predict. We do have a studio in Brooklyn now, where we can be much louder, so who knows!

Besides musical inspirations, tell us about people, places or past life events that have made you write a song…

So much goes into it. For this record I started playing around with ideas about adolescence. Initially ruminating on my own teenage experiences, where a lot of the ideas/songs began, but then as you write and develop the song I always try to take it well beyond my own private story, so that it can become something more expansive and open to others. There is an incredible essay I was reading by George Orwell, ‘Such Such Were the Joys’, that is a beautiful example of writing from the perspective of a young person. I created the first song on this album from ‘Spring Days And Blossom’ by Japanese poet Lady Ise. Another song Controversy is an extract from the novel ‘My Brother Jack’.

Questions by Scott J. Herman