The Light and Darkness of Say Lou Lou

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As human beings we are fascinated with extremes, the far reaches of both ends of any given spectrum. For the entirety of human history, stories have been told of the ever present battle between good versus evil, with heroes and villains created in the ilk of both moral extremes. In this vein, such extremes find themselves paired together in a symbiotic relationship that is given meaning by the dynamic contrast produced by both poles. The members of Say Lou Lou, Elektra and Miranda Kilbey, create music that is born in the enlightenment of contrast, with a focus on darkness and light that transcends the pair’s musical influences and aesthetic appearance. As twins, Say Lou Lou’s melancholic pop sound is composed in a haze of duality, and their first two singles “Maybe You” and “Julian” are energized by the Kilbey sisters’ drive to merge and meld influences and experiences from their respective upbringings in Sweden and Australia. Having recently announced their signing to Columbia Records, and a recent return from a European tour with Hurts, we caught up with Say Lou Lou in London.

You released your first single, “Maybe You”, through Parisian label Kitsune Records. For “Julian”, you’ve set up your own à Deux records; what triggered it in your minds to start your own label? How has the process been?

Kitsune is pretty often a singles label, so the process with our label isn’t very different, insofar as we managed everything and Kitsune released the single. We’re still doing everything the same way we did before: the producer handles production, and we handle everything involved with the creation of the music and the visual aspects. However, now we have even more control as we released the single too!

You’ve recently shared the stage with the likes of Ariel Pink, Kindness, and Twin Shadow. How did they affect you as live experiences?

We toured with Twin Shadow for a bit, and then we toured with Hurts. We played at the same festival in Leeds with Kindness and Ariel Pink, so we didn’t really tour with them or anything substantial. It’s a learning process touring with an established band, seeing them everything night and drawing inspiration from their performances.

Travel isn’t something you’re alien to, having originally been spread across the world between Sweden and Australia. How much of that duality comes into the music?

I think it comes into it subconsciously, more than consciously. We are half and half, and that’s how we always have been. I think that’s reflected in our personalities, but I think it also reflects our music. It’s not one hundred percent Scandi-pop, and it’s not one hundred percent acoustic Australian, so we draw inspiration from the dynamic differences, such as the different cultures, and the lightness and darkness in both. It definitely does affect our music, but it’s not something I can explain. Rather, it’s something you feel when you listen to it.

I notice you had several remixes commissioned for “Julian” – is this simply part of the release process, or do you enjoy being able to see the different takes on your music?

We like to give life to the song, and it’s inspiring to see how musicians can work with our songs and interpret them in their own way. It’s really exciting seeing them place our music in their own context.

I’m keen to explore this theme of duality. Where are your musical origins born? Were they from the same place, or do you both come from different musical backgrounds?

We grew up in the same family, so the influences were similar for both of us. However, there were some stages in our lives where we enjoyed different styles of music, but I think we both always come back to the same ground of what inspires us.

It appears you were thrown in the deep end with your career. How have you dealt with the learning curve?

It was about a year ago since “Maybe You” surfaced on the internet, and since then it’s gone very fast. Prior to the release of “Maybe You”, we’d been in the studio for a couple of years, kind of like studio rats, so we knew a lot about the behind the scenes of our musicality. However being in the limelight and on stage was something we had to adapt to very quickly, and we’re still in the learning process right now. As a live act, we’re still in the very early stages. The live act has, in fact, been one of the most difficult parts of our career so far, because you really have to take your music to a whole different setting and deliver it.

With your extensive touring, is it quite a gradual, incremental learning curve, or are there certain moments or gigs where you feel like it takes a huge leap forward?

What we’re learning now is that some nights you have really good shows, and some nights you have really bad shows, because it’s so based on how you’re feeling. I think what determines whether you’re a good live act is that you’re always on top and that you’re always in the mood, and that you can deliver despite any issues such as feeling sick or unhappy. We’re still learning as we’re sometimes too determined by circumstances, such as venue vibes, as we get thrown off a bit when things aren’t exactly how we want them to be.

As you’ve mentioned, you started your career as ‘studio rats’, and when it comes to an album can we expect it to be infused with the high paced energy that has been a huge part of your recent career, or a return to the calmer aspects of your musical origin?

If we can go back to the theme of duality, I think we can both be very fast and very slow. Our music can be very mellow and slow, but we’re also very moving and energy and life. I think we can definitely expect duality on the album. I believe that’s what we try to do with our videos too, as we wanted the videos to contrast each other, and we enjoy the dynamic between light and darkness.

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To come back to your visual element, there is a strong sense of the ’70s aesthetic that many commentators have noted. How much of this is a part of Say Lou Lou?

I don’t think originally that it was our idea, and from the early photos it was always just the way we looked and dressed. I think now that we’ve begun to accentuate it, and we both find that the contrast of the complete glamour ’70s holds two different sides to it, a very decadent side and a very glamourous side. It’s the irony that attracts us the most.

Ideally, how do you see the remainder of 2013 panning out?

Finishing our debut album, and not losing our minds! We’re very keen to have a very fun and enjoyable recording process, and not to get too caught up in the stress of having to deliver something, and instead really imbue ourselves in the process of recording the album and in love with writing.

Where do you plan on recording the album? Given your previous geographical distance apart, have you managed to find a suitable base?

Not really! And it’s quite nice really, as we’re nomads, and we think home is where the heart is. It’s all about us being together, and the relationship at that moment of where we are and who we’re working with that is important. I think we’ve recorded a fair amount of the album in Sweden, and I believe that’s where we most feel at peace, but at the same time it’s more inspiring to go abroad and meet new people and influences. We’re heading to America for six weeks this summer, to LA, which is exciting, and we spend a great amount of time in London and we’ve written a substantial amount of our material here.

It’s interesting that you consider yourselves nomads .. 

I can’t imagine living anywhere at the moment! We always feel like we have to be on the move and at three places at once, so for me to even think about having a home is very hard. We’ve really learned to put our homes in a suitcase, and develop an inner strength between us.

How much do you gain strength from your familial bond?

I think it helps. Having a sibling makes it into the ultimate band, and we do fight a lot, but we can make peace as quickly as we’ve fallen out. We fight almost every day, but it’s like an old married couple, we love each other just as much.

Text by Ben Blackburn
Photography by Olivia Beasley
Styling by Aradia Crockett

STYLING BY ARADIA CROCKETT

THE SPRING ISSUE

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