Sonic Synergy: LCY & object blue in conversation

 
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Music

Although they’ve never officially collaborated before, there’s clearly a synergy between DJs and producers LCY and object blue.

As well as sharing a love of discordant music, audio-visual arts and avant-garde fashion, the London-based artists are both forward-thinking in their approach to sound and unabashed to challenge sonic norms.

Individually, the pair have had their fair share of accolades over the last few years. object blue’s meticulous sound design has formed acclaimed releases for TT and Let’s Go Swimming, as well as last year’s personal body of work ‘FIGURE BESIDE ME’, which was followed by a 360-degree audio-visual installation created with her wife Natalia Podgorksa. Her DJ and live sets are equally as enthralling and have seen her play at events across the world, while more recently she’s been tag teaming behind the decks with Nervous Horizons boss TSVI.

 

LCY has tread a similar path. The Bristol-born producer and audio/visual artist began their musical journey releasing darker strains of electronic music, before shedding their former masked alias in favour of a new direction. With the launch of their multi-disciplinary platform SZNS7N, LCY has championed future-facing music and visuals from emerging artists as well as their own material, including the highly anticipated concept release ‘Pulling Teeth’.

Having individually carved out a reputation as two of the most exhilarating artists in experimental club music, the pair are finally joining forces in the booth. Ahead of their special B2B at Saint Etienne’s Positive Education festival they drill into folklore, medieval art, jazz favourites, their passion for fashion and conceptualising musical projects.

 

object blue: what’s the longest piece of music you listen to regularly?

LCY: The longest piece of music I listen to regularly is probably Goldie – Mother or any piece from Fela Kuti’s Zombie.

LCY: For my first question I would love to ask you what has been your favourite piece of work or song you’ve done to date?

object blue: “Procession of Healers” off Grotto. It’s hard to create catharsis, even if a fictional one in your little story, but I managed with this track.

object blue: Who are your favourite jazz musicians?

LCY: It’s a really hard question because you have to go by style, instrument, era or country you know.. my favourite vocalist is always Billie Holiday that’s a constant and instrumentalists always change but have been listening to a lot of Coleman Hawkins and Mingus lately !

object blue: I’ve been listening to Mingus too! Black Saint and Sinner Lady is my all time favourite but yesterday I heard “Myself when I am real” and it shot me through the heart. do you ever hear their influences in your own mixing/production, and if so, how?

LCY: I love discordant jazz a lot and even though I don’t understand it from a technical perspective I feel a lot of parallels to experimental club music emotionally. I wish the two worlds had more time for each other honestly as some of the best electronic/jazz music in history has elements of both.

LCY: Are there any music styles outside of electronica that you feel directly affect and impact your work within electronic music?

object blue: I completely agree with you about jazz. I’m always meaning to go through some jazz harmony workbooks because harmony writing doesn’t come naturally to me. I think its syncopation and dissonance are congruent with experimental club.

I love folk music, not like Bon Iver folk but really regional old music, because they’re different from the monopoly of Western canon, they always give me something new and exciting, like uncommon phrasing or instrumentation. I’ve sampled a lot of “world music” field recordings I found on the internet.

LCY: Do you remember which genre of music deeply impacted you in life? Where, when and how?

object blue: When I was 13 I heard My Chemical Romance and it was the first time I became truly obsessed with non-mainstream contemporary music! I didn’t grow up in a musical family, and I’d only gotten immersed in western culture a couple years prior when I learned English. I’d bought all the Britney and Aaliyah pirate CDs — living in China before the social media era meant I didn’t get that much info/media fed to me, only what was hugely popular — but when I discovered MCR I went out of my way to read every interview, download every demo. I connected with fans all over the world as no one listened to them around me. that was my first true music community, which felt amazing!

object blue: Do you listen to current pop music? Which ones?

LCY: I do have an unapologetic love for some pop music but it’s only pop music with consideration for production. Something I care about deeply is pop’s development away from the safe, jarring and musically stagnant bubble it’s in 99 percent of the time with its production. Every now and again you do truly get an exciting pop act shining through such as Rosalia, Arca, pinkpantheress, Pa Saleui, and even occasionally bigger pop acts such as Ye and Ariana Grande.

object blue: I know pulling teeth references Irish folklore — what’s your favourite folklore?

LCY: I adore these creatures called Kelpies, they are water spirits that shape shift and haunt the water… they often are seen in the shape of horses and considered evil in most writing but sometimes they are good.

LCY: Your recent project ‘Grotto’ which I believe to be a collaborative piece with your wife Natalia Podgórska is incredible! I love how you went about it conceptually as I love when every aspect has been considered and nurtured. You had mentioned medieval art and theatre as a reference, do you have a passion for it and if so what pieces?

object blue: Thank you so much! I love Byzantine art, it’s my favourite aesthetic of all time. I love depiction of saints, the round gold sphere for a halo is so elegant. Another medieval art that’s important to me is Hildegard von Bingen’s chronicle of her visions — which spans paintings, writing and musical composition.

I love theatre, the most existential form of art, and my favourites are Greek tragedies, Shakespeare and 20th century British theatre. Edward Bond’s Chair Plays shook me to the core when I saw it in Hammersmith in 2013…

LCY: How important is conceptualising your projects and do you know when you’ve hit a point of musical inspiration?

object blue: Not that important actually! Musical inspiration always come first. the concept, if any, comes after — it helps me come up with track titles, the EP title, and visual identity. Even the aesthetic of the artwork comes directly from sound, I think: oh pink would look good with this sound palate, rust texture would be nice for this sonic mood. Because of this I always stress that music, at least for me and the way I make it, is a medium that stands on its own. It doesn’t have to be a vehicle for any other medium.

object blue: How important is it for your releases to have a narrative structure?

LCY: I need an imagined visual reference before the music starts to make sense – I have to obsess over all aspects. Unless I’m soundtracking the visual ideas I have during the creation of the piece, often it makes very little sense to me and doesn’t have little to any emotional meaning when it’s released, which is something I’m trying to avoid at all costs.

object blue: I love the way you dress. What do your clothes/outfits mean to you?

LCY: I’ve always loved clothes and shoes and I never had a real choice when I was younger as I used to live in hand me downs of cousins, siblings and my mums friends kids. I used to read a lot of magazines given to me by my older cousins and obsess over them. It’s hard to pinpoint but I’d say my appreciation for clothes is just a love of beautiful things and design. I appreciate watching someone with lovely clothes or great style almost as much as putting together my own.

object blue: I’m completely with you, when someone has killer style and you can see their love and obsession with garments, it’s as rewarding as putting together your own.

LCY: Sorry to steal your question but i’d love to ask you the same and also ask when you remember your love of clothes beginning ?

object blue: My mom used to send me to kindergarten in puffsleeve princess dresses with matching ribbons in my hair. The photos are hilarious, everyone else are in Disney shirts and gym shorts, and there’s me in a total green gingham and lace look. Obviously that was my mom’s choice but I’m sure it plays a part in me not minding standing out, I stay true to my taste even if other people dislike it. When I found My Chemical Romance, it also catapulted me into studded belts, swept bangs, shredded skinny jeans. People joke about the ubiquity of emo phase, but that moment let me come into my own. To wear what you truly feel at home in, even if people laugh at you (and they did! I was the only ~indie kid in my school, ha!).

LCY: What are your end goals with your clothes making? What gave you the push to learn now?

object blue: I’ve always wanted to make my own clothes, and have shoddily made some pieces that I did wear over the years. I was hoping I could self-study, got a free sewing machine off Facebook Marketplace in 2017, but sewing requires so much specialist knowledge: how to choose fabric, needle sizes and shapes, hemming and seaming, machine tensions… COVID gave me the time to attend short intensive courses on how to use a sewing machine, and I’ve finally gotten to the point of making simple clothes from commercial patterns. Also, shout-out to my mom — she doesn’t sew at all any more but she’s good, she’s taught me some hand sewing techniques too. One day I want to be able to realise some of my designs, from scratch, just for myself to wear — I’m not interested in starting a brand or anything, it’s purely to satisfy my sartorial cravings.

LCY: I love your eye for your own styling and design, do you have any designers or stylists you love or look up to?

object blue: Thank you. I’m not really familiar with stylists, but I do love Lucy Bonner and I’m so happy I got to work with her multiple times this year, one of them being the FACT AW21 feature. She knows I love expressive, avant garde designs, she pulled out all the stops assembling six powerful looks.

I really look up to Di Petsa, whom I met through a mutual friend a few years ago. Her designs are imbued with emotion, they’re so thoughtful and beautiful. She hand-sewed my wedding dress with so much love and good wishes. I’m so happy to see all the success she’s getting.

object blue: I know you buy fabric, what do you sew? I thought I’d be able to sew my entire wardrobe by now but god it’s a long slow process.

LCY: I was recently making hats and I tried to make a big hat and it was so incredibly bad and took so much time It really hurt my sewing ego so I’ve gone from that to making simple outfits and these slightly creepy dolls that require a basic stitch.. construction is something you need a lot of patience for and more than anything that can be the hardest part for me especially when you have a hard and clear vision of what it’s supposed to look like.

object blue: Tell me about it! I’ve come home angry-crying from the sewing studio quite a few times. I do have much deeper appreciation for clothes now, even pieces I bought years ago for pennies wow me, like… oh my god it has a French seam! wow this MUJI top has darts in the shoulder! I’ve always found antique clothing beautiful, I recently bought a corset cover from 1900s, and seeing every seam sewn closed with handstitching made me feel weak. Not to mention crocheted laces sewn on by hand on every hem. How laborious?! For an undergarment?!?

object blue: Going back to music, I loved sharing a lineup with you at Meraki last month, I remember you asking me what I’m going to play and I honestly said “I have no idea yet…” How do you decide what to play for a DJ set? Or do you just improvise?

LCY: I used to improvise and now I see DJ sets more like my music that I want a journey: a start, a purpose and an end.. it’s still fluid to an extent but seeing the set itself as an art form has meant I plan and take more care for it.

LCY: I’ve spoken to you before about your live sets and you’ve given me some great advice (thanks), is there any advice you’d give to other artists on building your live set?

object blue: This is a hard one because everyone’s writing style, performance style, file organisation system, and equipment are so different… I would say that even if you think your set is getting boring, the audience hasn’t heard it before, and you’re negatively biased towards what you’re playing because you’ve heard it so many times. So stay with an idea for a bit, develop it and improvise with it, don’t keep rushing off to the next idea every five minutes.

And take even five minutes before soundcheck to add something special that you’re gonna play just for that set. It doesn’t have to be elaborate: one hat pattern, or a synth stab… I think it helps you engage with the set.

object blue: What’s your favourite radio show?

LCY: I’m going to have to be biased here and say Sherelle’s residency show!! Great music, great guests and constant overwhelming pride

LCY: Your radio show is incredible and you bring through some exceptional guests almost always someone I’ve never heard of. How important is it for you to showcase new artists?

object blue: Super important! I don’t care about my mixing on the show, it’s about sharing the best new releases, always by new artists. For example, I love the new Lotic very much but I’m not gonna play it because everyone knows Lotic and how amazing she is! I’ve gotten invaluable feedback over the years about how many people found music they love through my guest mixes, I always write down any DJs/artists I’m impressed by, I plan guest slots months in advance, trying to coincide with a release date if there is any.

object blue: What are you reading at the moment?

LCY: Do androids dream of electric sheep, K Punk & I’m really trying my best to finish Dune while it’s still in cinemas.

LCY: Would love to know (if I can!!) what’s next for you in music and art? Are there plans to do more collaborations?

I really want to write my first album! I’m still working on polishing my production skills so I can flesh out the glimpses of the ideas I have.

And I’ve loved collaborating with Natalia Podgórska — I never liked how the music can be so groundbreaking but the visuals looking like a Macbook screensaver or just the club’s logo projected onto the wall. It’s time for club visuals to step up to the sound!

Follow object blue and LCY. Buy Positive Education tickets.