In a few short years Lau and their constituent parts have blown a veritable typhoon through the music scene. Anyone who has seen them must at very least acknowledge the power of the trio. You cannot help but marvel at the intensity of their performance and at times it seems almost impossible that three acoustic instruments can possibly make such a fulsome and joyous noise.
In the studio too the band has been developing at pace, with each new record seemingly adding a new dimension to their sound. Race The Loser, under the stewardship of producer Tucker Martine, raised the stakes again, introducing a raft of new ideas and sonic textures. Part of this comes from the individuals tireless work ethic. All have other things on the go and seem to be constantly exploring different avenues of the creative process. It’s rare for much time to elapse before at least one of their names pops up on a news bulletin. There is an openness and willingness to experiment and follow the Muse wherever it leads.
The series of EPs that they’ve started seems a natural extension of this, giving the chance for Lau to try out different ideas through collaboration, or in this case, to hand over the keys to their music and sit back. I’m sure the results of Lau Remixed will confound some, but for those who relish their adventurous spirit and creativity, it’s an intriguing prospect that actually makes for great listening.
Martin Green was kind enough to offer Folk Radio UK some exclusive insight into the Lau vs series and the new Remix CD, but before that, listen to the opening track Torsa remixed by Haiku Salut:
How did the Lau vs series start?
Martin Green: “As a band love to collaborate, it’s something that has always been part of Lau since the very start when we did a project called Parallelogram with Pete Wareham from Polar Bear/Acoustic Ladyland and some other great jazzers from London. A trio is such a small unit of people that socially and musically it helps keep things exciting to have fresh blood and new ideas around as much as possible. We all love to work with other musicians, and I think it makes Lau a better band, we have been in very wide variety of musical situations as a trio where we have to work very quickly as a unit, and that is training for us, and means we work better when we get back to just the three of us again.
“The first of the EPs was with Karine Polwart, we have all played live and recorded with Karine in her own band, and we are good friends, Karine is an inspiring person to be around and the nature of EPs is such that you don’t feel the pressure of an album, and that provides a certain freedom in the studio.
“The second one was with Adem and that was quite a revelatory experience for us, certainly for me. Adem is such a wide thinker, and seemingly unconstrained by any musical baggage associated with a traditional music band. We ended up making music in a freer way than we had done before, playing different instruments, and using some quite extreme sonic techniques. One of the big things for me was Adem was very encouraging of us using laptops on that project, I’ve been making computer music for a long time, but it had never really made sense inside Lau, and Adem found a way to marry these things. That experience had a lot to do with the sound of Race The Loser a year later, once we found a way in with the electronics, it become part of our noise, and Adem really helped us with that.
“I don’t think we’ll ever stop making these smaller projects with other musicians, they are always fulfilling and we always learn things from them. We are writing a piece at the moment for Lau and the breathtaking Elysian Quartet, but we’ll tell you more about that at a later date.”
How do you choose the collaborators? What are you hoping to achieve? Do you move in the same musical circles as all of these remixers?
“The remixers on this CD came from various routes, Haiku Salut are doing the tour with us next month, and we love their attitude towards technology, and as you can hear from their track, it’s quite an unconventional way of making computer music.
“I have long been a big fan of Matthew Herbert, who really is a craftsman, he has made a lot of very interesting music from all sorts of sources. The Sei-A and Claro Intelecto tracks are both pretty deep and dark, which I feel is a natural extension of a certain aspect of the album, which is sort of what remixes are about, getting other artists to explore particular avenues of what you’ve made.
“The depth (in terms of bass) on parts of Race The Loser comes from a Moog bass synth that (producer) Tucker Martine wanted to try, it is soooo low, and round and warm and beautiful. Sounds that low are unnatural, they didn’t exist in music before electronic instruments, and so that puts part of that recording into that world. Sei-A and Claro Intelecto took it further into that deep bass universe, these tracks are perhaps the least like what we’ve done before, but for me it’s really exciting to hear them.
“Frightened Rabbit are pals, and we released a joint EP earlier this year, two members of that band worked independently on the same track and we loved both versions, so we put them both on the EP. The Silver Columns track is actually a remix of a track from the Adem EP, and if you don’t love Silver Columns then you must have a heart of frozen steel.”
Did the remixers choose the tracks or did you have certain people in mind for the tracks? Two tracks appear twice as different versions what was the thinking there?
“We let the remixers choose the tracks, so a couple of people chose Torsa for example, but I love that, that’s kind of the point, to hear different interpretations. ”
Are you involved in the process, or do you leave it entirely in the hands of the collaborators?
“We have control over what elements we sent to the remixers, after that it was entirely left to them, and I think that’s right in this situation, it’s interpretation, rather than collaboration.”
Do you get ideas that you’ll absorb into the next Lau album? Were there signs of that starting to happen with Race The Loser?
“Everything feeds in.”
Will anything be transferable to the live setting?
“More and more electronic elements are creeping into the live set, I can’t see us going deep house in the near future, but all of this explorations point to ways in which we can incorporate things we find moving or inspiring from other genres. Lau is at its core an acoustic band with some supplementary buttons and knobs to add new tones and colours to arrangements, and I think it always will be. The power in the live gigs is in the three of us playing together, electronic music that is sequenced has a different sort of power, no less valid, but less relevant to this particular band, at least in a live setting.”
Which elements or tracks do you feel most pleased with and why?
“The thing I am most pleased with is how different the tracks are and yet to my ear when you listen to the whole thing it hangs together as a whole. The mixes had been coming in one at a time, and it wasn’t till we sat mastering it through big juicy speakers that we got a sense of it as one thing, that was a magic moment in this project for me.”
Interview by: Simon Holland
Nov 12 Victoria Halls, Saltaire*
Nov 13 Central Methodist Hall, Manchester*
Nov 14 All Saints Church, Pocklington*
Nov 15 The Drill Hall, Lincoln*
Nov 16 Blackheath Halls (Great Hall), London*
Nov 17 Assembly Rooms, Ludlow*
Nov 19 Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa*
Nov 20 Salisbury Arts Centre, Salisbury*
Nov 21 De La Warr Pavilion,Bexhill-On-Sea*
Nov 22 St Mary’s Arts Centre, Sandwich*
Nov 23 The Electric Palace, Bridport*
Nov 24 St John The Evangelist Church, Lancaster*
Nov 28 The Queens Hall, Edinburgh**
* w/ Haiku Salut
** w/ Louis Abbott
Lau Remixed Trailer
Remixed is released via Lau Scotland 11 Nov 2013
Pre-Order it now via Lau’s website
Photo Credit: David Angel