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LAMB: BACKSPACE UNWIND

I'm positive that you already heard some good things about Lamb at some point in your life. If not, don't sweat it, cause you've come to the right place. Let's start with the basics: Lamb is an English electronic duo, consisting of singer/songwriter Lou Rhodes and producer Andy Barlow. Their music is influenced by drum 'n' bass, dub, breaks and jazz and they will, under no conditions, accept the trip-hop categorization. This erroneous classification is probably a consequence of the oh-so popular Bristol trip-hop scene from the 90s. Lou and Andy have been creating swell music ever since 1996, when they hit it off with their first album Lamb. So, it's been almost 20 years since their beginning and oh boy, that's quite a long time to be making music that people want to listen to. They took a little 5 year hiatus recently to catch their breaths and gain some new perspectives. Let me reassure you that the new ideas and perspectives have been successfully transformed into their latest creations. I'm talking about Backspace Unwind album which was released in October 2014. It contains 10 new songs written by Lou and Andy (4 of them featuring string arrangements by Tom Trapp). The album radiates an indisputable sense of two brilliant musicians who feel at peace with themselves and their work. When making the album they experimented with production, the vocals and lyrics, which clearly shows their dedication and courage that is needed for venturing into new and fresh territories (a virtue that many other bands definitely lack). With Backspace Unwind they've served us a platter of electronic excellence that sounds present-day with a little sprinkle of rare synth magic to each track. I invite you to read the interview with the lovely Lou. Kick back and enjoy! If you'd like to read the Slovenian version of the interview check out the Radio Terminal web page.

Photo via: funzine.hu
Hey Lou! I'm so glad that I got the chance to do an interview with you! What's been on your schedule lately? 

Hey, we just finished a six week tour of the UK and Europe and then took time out over Christmas and New Year with our families.

You'll soon be touring with your latest album Backspace Unwind in Australia and New Zealand. Which gig are you most excited about?

Yes, we're just about to start the Australia/New Zealand tour as I'm writing this. Gotta say I'm extra excited about Sydney Enmore Theatre!

You both had solo careers and several other musically oriented projects while Lamb was on hold. Did these solo paths in any way affect the way you work together?

I think the great thing about going away and doing other projects is that our return to Lamb has been for all the right reasons. We're here because we want to be. Basically we enjoy doing our solo stuff and we enjoy doing Lamb. Each feeds into the other and help us to honor the many different facets of our creative life.

Photo via: c2.staticflickr.com
I've read somewhere that space was a very important theme for Backspace Unwind and for older albums as well. The use of musical cues for depth and immense distances definitely imbue your music with the vastness of space. Why is space so important to you? 

When we re-formed in 2009 and began writing and recording again in 2010 we were able to view the project of Lamb from a fresh perspective and we had a really honest look at what had worked in the past and how we might have lost our way a little. We decided that, when Lamb really worked, there was a stripped back sparseness to our sound and we harked back a lot to our first album. So when we started to write again we did so with an emphasis on an aesthetic of "less is more". If a sound wasn't needed we'd leave it out. Likewise with a lyric. On this new record there are also references to space which amounted to a kind of theme. For me as a lyric writer I love the idea of stepping outside of our regular reality; airlifting out of life and looking in.

Your lyrics are mostly rather deep and philosophical, as for example in What Makes Us Human. What does your process of writing lyrics look like? What are the main messages you wish to pass on to the audience?

As I said in the previous answer, on this album I was particularly into creating an "outside looking in" perspective on life. Not in an effort to detach; more to find a different way of viewing things. I guess "What Makes Us Human" sums that up. The verses describe the very visceral stuff of being human and the connections we make and then the chorus throws us out into space imagining planets looking in on what makes us what we are.

How have your instruments and different recording approaches changed over the years? What were the reasons behind these changes?

Wow, they've changed a lot! We made the first album on an early version of Cubase, an old green-screen Atari and clunky rack mounted samplers. Audio was recorded on a borrowed 4-track recorder with only three tracks working. These days there's no limit to the technology available; you can get hold of just about anything via plug-ins etc. The changes we've experienced have been literally the result of the advances that have been made but the important thing to remember is that it's not the technology that makes the record. It's about ideas and managing to stay true to what you do amidst the distractions of the "chocolate box" of technological toys available to you at any given time.

I've seen the trip-hop categorization of Lamb quite a few times, which is, to say the least, an oversimplification, if not downright erroneous. Why do you think this classification is so popular?

Ayeeee! Yes, I'd go with downright erroneous! Oversimplification if I'm feeling kind. I really don't know why people feel the need to use such labels, especially so inaccurately. I can only think of it as lazy journalism or a very human need to pigeonhole an experience and thus make it safely digestible.

I've heard in one of your previous interviews that the Transfatty Acid EP was a very special brew of three earlier Lamb songs. Since you have a quite broad repertoire of songs to choose from, did you have any specific criteria in mind during the selection process?

I guess it just happened that the three songs on that EP were the ones we most wanted to re-interpret. Transfatty Acid itself had undergone a natural metamorphosis over the years we'd been playing it live and had become a bit of a monster ;). It just felt good to record it and get it out there. We wanted to bring B-Line up to date and loved the naughty funk it became and Lullaby always needed a fresher, more natural vocal.
Photo via: lambofficial.com
It's only natural that such long-term bands like Lamb evolve during time. If you think back to your beginnings, what would you say has changed the most?

I guess, more than anything, we've grown up. We were young and naive when we started out. I have to say though that this doesn't mean we're now old and cynical. Maturity and the lessons we've learnt have, if anything, brought more of a lightness and flow than we ever had.

After all these years, you still create amazing stuff together and the energy between you two is simply out of this world. May I ask what is your secret?

Thank you. I think I just summed that up in the last answer. It's about constantly trashing our own pre-conceptions and ripping up the map. We've been on quite a journey together, had some amazing adventures and continue to have a lot of fun along the way. Most of all we absolutely love what we do. There can be no better reason for doing it.

Where do you see Lamb in 10 years?

There is no map. Only time will tell.

Thank you so much for your time and answers, I really appreciate it and can't wait to see you live!

Photo via: media.novinky.cz

You'll be able to hear Lamb and their sixth electro baby Backspace Unwind on the 3rd of March at Kino Šiška, Ljubljana. I'm sure it's gonna be a great show!

xxxx

2 comments:

  1. I have the feeling that I've heard of them before! So nice that you got to interview them babe :)

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  2. Great post I really liked the interview!

    http://thelondonsbylaura.blogspot.com.es

    Laura xx

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