Shine A Light On: Labyrinth Ear


UK duo Labyrinth Ear were brought together by mutual tastes in music, but each bring to the table their own set of influences. Recently passing across our radar with a debut album in their sights, their tracks are both melancholic and euphoric, combining samples with synths and ventures into the psychedelic. The result is a combination of worldly sounds with child-like vocals to create fantasia pop music with a foot in the past, a grasp of the present and an eye to the future. We asked them a few questions to accompany the mix and delve a little deeper into their world;

You're fairly new on our radar – can you tell us a few key details about yourself? Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do?

We're two people, both from London but we’ve lived all over the place. We describe our music as “fantasia pop”, because we couldn’t find any other way of describing our style. We draw from all influences to try to capture the magic and atmospheric sounds similar to that in film, all of our music is created with a lot of visual ideas in mind. We make music, art, photography and coffee. 

What's your earliest memory of music?

My earliest memory of being moved by music was watching 'A Midsummer Nights Dream’, a puppet film By Jiri Trnka, the magic prevailed throughout the entire film. It was the music hand in hand with the visuals that allowed you to be completely swept up and engulfed into the moment, it was so inspiring, moving and beautiful, even to a 3-4 year old child. I would tell everyone now to stop what they are doing and go and see it. I was lucky enough to see a restored version at the BFI cinema a few years ago, it was incredible. I had to buy a bootleg version of it, as it wasn’t even available anymore. I think I would have this film played at my funeral. I draw so much inspiration from it, time and time again, it is completely timeless. Jiri Trnka was a genius, and had the sole reigns of the creativity in all his projects, from every puppet, to all the scenery, filming, editing and music. 

Why did you decide to start taking music seriously? Do you have any regrets?

We started making music together in New Cross in South East London, we were both at a dead end in our previous endeavours, we were feeling uninspired and jaded. After some deep contemplation we decided that we both wanted to start creating music, it was something hidden away in our hearts that we had not allowed any light or time, so we decided to try it together and see what happened. Everything from that moment forward was like a strange dream, music flowed from our fingers, it was as though I'd tapped into a wave from a past life, it felt so natural.

Who are your biggest influences? Is there anyone that you would describe your style as being similar to?

I love Lata Mangeshkar, Dolly Parton, Arthur Russell, Jiri Trnka, TLC, Edith Piaf, Lou Reed, Peaking Lights, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart. I love opera and classical music, but I'm very fussy and very particular. I wouldn't say that our style is similar to anyone in particular, people have described us similar to Cocteau Twins, it was from this that I started listening to their music in depth to hear what others heard, now deeply love it, but I feel like most musician's or artists, you don't tend to listen too much to anyone artist in particular for fear of subconscious imitation. I try to look deep inside me to think about what I'm genuinely interested in, and what it is that I genuinely want to say or convey and then stick to that, can't have any regrets then. 

What's the music scene like where your from?

Well, we're both from London, where you are always spoilt for choice, it’s almost overwhelming the amount of culture in one city. I remember I would always be at a gig with friends, week days, weekends, any opportunity, I blame being in London for completely flopping my A Levels other than art. But then, If I'd done well, I probably wouldn't have started making music, something which I couldn't imagine myself without now. 

What are you aiming to achieve with your music?

My goal is to do exactly what I want musically and creatively, to quench every desire for experimentation and to satiate every need to write and let go of a song from within. It's therapeutic. As long as I can do this I will have no regrets and not much else matters. I will never carry on if I had to be somebody else's tool… This well never happen. <3

Who got you hooked on electronic music?

I would say I got hooked on electronic music at around 16 years of age, I can't place who it was or where it was that it happened, but I know that from producing electronic music ourselves it has allowed us to experiment and explore new ideas without being bound to specific instruments. I have a short shelf life for a certain sound, I just want to keep moving forward and trying new sounds. For me it is everything. 

What's your favourite track of 2014 so far?

Best pop song of the year is hands down 'Fancy' by Iggy Azalea and Charlie XCX. 

Tell us a little bit about the mix you've created.

It is an amalgamation of our different and varied tastes, but all with something in common; the magic or atmosphere in the music, or the risks taken creatively to create something new, or just that feeling of 100% belief in the sincerity and intention of the song. 

What's the mood you're aiming to create?

Magic, I can't quite describe it, but just magic. If I'd have done something else, I would've been a children's illustrator, because the magic in children's books and illustrations has an integrity, a truth and a beauty to it, it's enchanting and beguiling, and although it is fantasy, it can sometimes feel like the most real thing in the world. That's what I want. I want to capture the magic of people like Brian Wildsmith and Jiri Trnka in a musical format. 

Have you got a favourite track in the mix?

Elgar played by Jacqueline du pre – have you seen her play? It's like her body is an extension of her instrument, it’s just incredible. Also Jacqueline du pre is my favourite rose. 

How was the mix recorded?

This mix was done in the style of the traditional mixtape, we recorded it on a laptop at home. Some of the music we had to take from YouTube because there was no other way to find it!

When and where should we listen to the mix?

At night, on the top deck of a bus, in the rain, with some particularly good headphones. 

Anything you'd like to add?

Thanks for the opportunity to create this mix, we hope that people enjoy it and maybe discover something they love from the music we love.

Labyrinth Ear's debut album 'The Orchid Room' is available now.