At 2000 Trees 2015, Lu’Ami’s past-midnight set, set deep in some on-site woods on the Forest Sessions Stage, was one of the highlights of the entire 80-act festival.
Better – the track you can hear at the end of this interview – was the highlight of that highlight.
Lu’Ami is a genuinely one-of-a-kind artist, melting down loop-based electronica and soul-filled vocals and letting them flow together into something moving and special. On Better, advanced technology and timeless songwriting combine into a track that is…well…better than the sum of its parts. Vibrant, yearning, and crafted with a rare attention to detail that will leave you noticing new touches and layers over the course of endless listens, this is a brilliant offering from an artist you need to know about if you’re seeking a breath of fresh air in a culture staunchly committed to retromania.
In this interview, Lu’Ami explains the story behind Better, and talks about musical memories, inspiration, and keeping anxiety in its place…
You’ve been quite busy over the past few months, playing festivals in the UK and gigging around Berlin. What moments in particular stand out from that time?
It has been a very eventful summer! Highlights include Shambala, playing up this massive oak tree in a cap made from Pepsi cans (I had spent two weeks making a clay crown, but I sat on it the night before) with loads of mental-looking aliens dancing along with me! (It was outer space dress up day)!
My last Berlin gig was in an ex-brothel, owned by a Russian spy in the 30’s, and bought by a man who had a dream that all furniture was on the ceiling, so he made his dream come true! A kitchen sink, fairy liquid, chairs, you guess it, and it was all up there hanging over you.
The weirder the venue, the more fun I have! Not only that but the best crowd I’ve ever had, so attentive, generous, and fun to play to. The people in Berlin are amazing, so passionate about art, expression, equality and freedom; you can see it in the buildings, galleries. The community vibe they create really makes anyone feel at home.
We got very lost on bikes and a little bit attacked by swans, but that’s another story! What a great city. I will be back soon.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
I faintly remember a lot of percussion, which explains my obsession with it now. My primary school headmaster was very musical and I remember every week at assembly having a 30-minute singsong to What Shall We Do With The Grumpy Teacher and Cauliflowers Fluffy, followed by some crazy performance from Mr Waldren, which we loved.
He encouraged lessons in recorder, but I was too shy to play in front of other kids, so I asked my babysitter to teach me. I remember my first recorder exam, grade three when I was eight. I was totally calm and excited until I got in that tiny room. My fingers were sweating, I felt sick, and all of sudden in the middle of the sight-reading exam I fainted!
I woke up underneath a chair with the examiner and my teacher peering over me. They wanted to send me home but I insisted on carrying on! So I suppose, I always had a strong passion for music and the determination despite the emotional setbacks. Weirdly enough, I passed with a distinction.
Your latest single, Better, is out now, and the lyrics are very deep. What’s the story / message behind those words?
There has been a shift in my life over the past few years. A few traumatic experiences have forced me to re-evaluate my actions and reactions to life’s rollercoaster ride! You know the saying “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”? That’s pretty much what I was feeling when I wrote this song.
Situations that we can’t control will always appear that will disrupt us, but the thing we can change is how we react to them. It is hard of course, but that was the biggest realisation for me – shit happens, and you can let it beat you up or you can learn the lessons/see the positives, and soon everything changes.
The message I want to share is that change is possible. If we want something in our lives to change – do it, because we control our own reality.
If money and good taste weren’t issues, what would your stage show look like?
If money were no issue, my stage would be mental! There would be trees on it probably, with percussion and magical decorations that shimmer and shine. The floor would be full of purple smoke and bushes of pink flowers. If you imagine that scene in Maleficent where everything comes alive and full of colour, that’s it, like a magical forest.
You’ve got me dreaming now, someday…
Do you ever suffer from stage fright or nerves? If so, how do you get around that?
Yes, I have in the past had severe problems with anxiety. One of my songs on the upcoming EP is about that actually, and was the subject that locked Big Jeff and I in hours of conversation!
I have been singing onstage since I was 14; I just kept putting myself onstage in order to face my fear. I still get nervous, but now it is mixed with excitement and my confidence is growing. However only 4 years ago I was doing auditions where they thought I was putting an effect on my voice because my voice shook. It was so frustrating and not my real sound, but I got so physically affected.
It never scared me into not performing because it’s the thing that makes me feel most alive. You just have to keep doing it until it improves, and the feeling of satisfaction rules!
What keeps you inspired?
A happy balance of seeing my friends, who all inspire me, to getting out in nature as much as possible. I live next to the sea and try to swim a lot, although it’s getting a bit colder now! Going for walks in parks, forests, camping, and skydiving– generally I find just having a fun filled life keeps my spirits and inspiration high.
Also art shows and books. I am reading Vivienne Westwood’s book at the moment – she inspires me a lot.
I am lucky living in Brighton where there are so many amazingly creative people; just seeing what other people come up with always sparks a new idea for me.
In our last interview, you mentioned an upcoming EP. How’s it coming along?
The four-track EP is currently being mixed and mastered. I am planning the launch for January, and everything seems to be falling together well. The launch is incorporating fashion designers, artists, dancers, photography, and garden design. I would like to create a platform for other artists to showcase their work as well.
I have been planning this event for a couple of years now, a huge artistic extravaganza! It will be an immersive installment of the EP, and a weird walk inside my fairy-esque mind!
In fact I am attending Brighton Fashion Week today to check out the designers. I couldn’t be more excited! Please stay tuned and come along!
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