Creative transmissions: Lone talks reinvention, production processes & films
For many producers the restrictions of the pandemic and the confines of lockdown offered time and space to dive deep into their work.
That was the case for Lone and the process of his most recent album, the aptly titled Always Inside Your Head. A departure from the sounds we’ve heard on the Magic Wire boss’ previous long players, this elongated period of time without the dance floor was the catalyst for him to take a more song-based approach to writing and recording.
He didn’t feel like making dance music, in fact he says he ‘was totally sick of it’. It was just a reminder of the absence of these spaces and of how distant a return to this “normality” really was.
The result was a record that he’d always dreamt of making. Crossing into the realms of pop and featuring vocals for the first time, courtesy of Morgane Diet, it also felt like a befitting way for Lone to make the jump to a new label home, Greco-Roman.
Musically the LP draws inspiration from some of Lone’s formative influences, including My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins and William Orbit’s productions, marrying elements of ambient house, trip hop, IDM and early Warp releases.
Since the release, he’s packed in a few more exciting feats. A new EP, Natural Ariels, followed as a companion release and featured a debut remix from Hooversound co-founder and DJ of the moment Sherelle and he played a new live show at Village Underground to a packed out venue. Following these we spoke to him about the process behind the album, his formative love of jungle and the films he wish he could soundtrack.
At the end of last year you released your eighth album ‘Always Inside Your Head’ – also your first in five years. Why did it feel like the right time to release a new long player into the world?
I guess it properly started when I moved from London back to my hometown – Nottingham – back in early 2019. I’d started sketching out rough ideas, experimenting with guest vocals, back In London actually. Throughout the course of 2019 I’d made the conscious effort to turn these ideas into an album so kind of leisurely added to these ideas in and out fo touring that year. Everything took a turn for the worst in early 2020 of course. The pandemic hit so I decided I’d make the most of the time I suddenly had – time out from travelling – to lock myself in my attic and really get a new album sorted. It was a dark time, obviously but felt like the right time, more than ever before as I had all this extra time to really dive deep into it.
It crosses over into dance and pop realms and sees you take a more song-based approach than on previous releases. How did that change the process of writing and recording the LP?
Yeah I guess going back to the lockdown thing – I wasn’t out DJing for the first time in years so just didn’t feel like making any dance music. I was totally sick of it infact. Everything felt completley fucked for a while… the last thing I felt like doing was making beats for DJ’s to play in clubs. It really didn’t feel like that was ever going to come back. I’ve always been more about the song than it’s functionality anyway so this was the perfect time to really expand what I do and make the record I’d always dreamt about.
It’s the first time we’ve ever heard vocals in your productions too. What motivated that move? Is it something you’ll continue to do on future releases?
I was listening to Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine (particularly the tunes with Bilinda on vocals) quite heavily and was becoming obsessed with this idea of the voice as more textural element – almost like a synth but way more versatile. I knew my voice wouldn’t do it justice so went in search of someone that could come close – someone I could get to send layers of vocal tones, improvised stuff over basic chord patterns I’d made… My live Drummer Chris recomended his mate Morgane and it worked out perfectly.
There’s a ton of different influences that can be heard across the LP – namely two specific Madonna and Olive productions, as well as formative influences like Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine. How did you approach weaving these influences into your production?
Yeah I think this one might actually be the most referencial in that sense. I really, really loved ‘You’re Not Alone’ by Olive when that came out. I think I was probably 11 or 12. Those reversed strings and that vocal really haunted me, haha. I always wanted to try and make something like that one day – I loved tunes you’d get, mainly in the 90’s where you’d have quite a poppy track with a slightly watered down jungle / drum n bass vibe to it. And I don’t mean ‘watered down’ as a negative – I always wanted to make some pop music but subtly slide in some of those more underground influences. ‘Frozen’ by Madonna is another one – that lush William Orbit production. ‘Hidden By Horizons’ – the opening tune from my album is my attempt at that. Like, in another slightly weirder dimension I’d like to think that that tune is a big hit.
After so many releases, remaining fresh is really important to your evolution as a producer. Aside from exploring new sounds and influences, has anything in terms of gear and production techniques changed?
Yeah very gradually, bit by bit I guess it’s evolved over the years since using a Playstation back in 1999. In the last year I’ve totally ramped it up though actually – I moved in to a new place and decided it was a good time to build a proper studio – a way to freshen up the process a bit. Typically it’s turned me into one of THOSE people already though… I’m constantly buying new / old hardware now… the studio is getting fully packed… It’s cool though, waiting this long to take that leap ’cause I know myself and my work well enough by now to know that I won’t just piss around with all this new gear and never finish tracks… The ‘Natural Aerials’ project is the first batch of stuff I’ve done mainly on hardware and that all came about so quickly. I’ve been working on tracks for a new album as well. Love it.
Aside from music, we hear you’re a big film fan. What are your top three recommendations from the last year?
Oh yes! indeed. To tell you the truth though, I’m crap with seeing new things as they come out so haven’t checked too many new films. Loads of weird old things though. The only time I’ve been to the cinema since before lockdown was to see ‘Liquorice Pizza’ – I’d definitely put that at the top of the recommendation list. Huge Paul Thomas Anderson fan. Other than that – old shit – Ken Russell’s ‘Altered States’ from 1980 and ‘The Vanishing’ from 1988 by George Sluizer. That one really, really haunted me actually. Hard recommend.
Have you found ways of combining film and music in your work? Or is it something you’d like to dabble in?
It’s a massive dream of mine to make film soundtracks… I’ve wanted to do that since I was a kid to be honest. I’m always too busy working on my own albums to make serious moves into that world though… I wanna make a couple more of my own albums then I’m really gonna get serious about that.
Any aspirations to soundtrack films yourself? If you could reimagine one existing film soundtrack, what would it be?
Totally selfishly, I’d have a go at Andrei Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’.
What’s a Natural Ariel (other than being the name of your new EP)?
A human being. Someone bringing ideas in to the world, more specifically. Usually an artist – musician, whatever… I’ve always loved the idea that music, art, ideas, whatever, already exist in the ether and we as humans act as some sort of aerial for these things… When things flow properly it does definitely feel like it’s that what is happening.. I don’t know though. I just really like that idea.
What are the main differences between the album and the EP?
Not sure really. It (the EP) was designed to be a continuation or rather a companion piece to the album really… A way to keep people interested in this era of what I do before I go away and start the next phase.
How did it feel debuting your new live show to a packed Village Underground?
You know what, it felt fucking amazing actually. I had months and months to prepare which was key. I mean, initially I was fucking terrified. I wanted to start from scratch with the way I did live stuff, really get it as perfect as I could in terms of how I’d present the material and I knew that was a pretty daunting amount of work. It just felt like the biggest mountain in the world to climb… as time went on though I started getting my head around it all and it started to get really exciting. I worked closely with my live drummer Chris Boot – he came to stay at mine for a bit and we just rehearsed the shit out of it. I really love that venue, I think it’s just beautiful. It was probably the coldest night of the year and all those people showed up and brought so much energy – I just can’t tell you what that meant to me. It’s really given me such a boost to focus on playing live… It’s definitely going to overtake DJing for me. I can’t wait to take it around the world.
Parts of the the gig had a distinctly hardcore/junglist feel – and so does the new EP – especially with the addition of Sherelle’s remix. Have you ever considered making a fully fledged jungle tune?
I’ve made 100’s of jungle tunes. It was pretty much my default style for years… all before anyone knew my stuff, before I’d released anything. So I guess there really aren’t too many people who’ve heard any of that stuff outside my mates from school and stuff… I’ve been finding more and more lost tunes from that era and messing about with them though – one of them, from 2004 is in the live set now. I’ll put some of them out when I get chance.
What are your thoughts on Sherelle, and the other DJs/producers pushing the new wave of jungle/D&B/hardcore?
Sherelle is hands down the most exciting DJ of the last 10 years. She just absolutely batters it… such an exciting presence on the scene. And I loved her debut EP so it was so nice to get her first remix. I love the idea that younger kids are going out raving to 160+ tunes and it’s becoming as normal as going out and listening to house music these days – I always hoped that would be the case. And as for people producing hardcore and jungle inspired stuff – there’s just so much of it now and I’m lapping it up. Production techniques are so high as well. I guess it’s never been a better time for people to learn, quickly how to make bangers… total level playing field… yeah just exciting as fuck isn’t it.
Any bits you’ve been enjoying that you can recommend? Music, or podcasts, or art. Anything really!
I’d recomend people go back and listen to as many instrumentals by the Neptunes as they can find. That’s what I’ve been doing recently. Ultimate, god-tier, masterful production. The kings of chords… I’ve rediscovered all their late 90’s / early 2000’s shit – and found a bunch I missed back in the day as well. Yeah I’d recommend people go and listen to a bunch of those really – perfect as the sun starts to come out as well.