INTERVIEW: Lunacre | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Splitting their time between Cambridge and London, five-piece Lunacre are fast building a reputation for bonding semi-experimental electronic music with deft song writing. Their new EP Troupe is a wonderful cacophony of expertly written lyrics, subtle guitar flourishes, beats and synth melodies that are dark, atmospheric and highly inventive.

Ahead of their gig at the Head of Steam with What We Call Progress, Plaza and Nico Cara this week, I talked to Ben from the band about their sound, the comparisons to Mount Kimbie, their live shows and guinea pigs.

Reading around while listening to your EP, I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of people who seem to be struggling to describe your sound. How would you describe the sound of Lunacre?

Well most people describe our sound as a cross between James Blake, Vondelpark and Mount Kimbie. Some wise guy at Stamp The Wax set that blog trend… We try to draw influences from a wide variety of music as it helps us write diversely, I think the core song writing and perspective of the songs is what ties it all together. It’s quite a production heavy sound.

People have compared you to Mount Kimbie and Vondelpark, which I know I’d be very flattered by, but I can’t help but get the feeling that there’s a huge range of influences that you draw on. Who would you say your music is most influenced by?

We grew up in the 90s and each had quite different music tastes, but with a lot of crossover. So bands from that era have had a great deal of influence on us. Blur, Radiohead, Portishead, Björk and Massive Attack to name a few.

Engine is a very unique song; it has a real Bonobo feel in places but then there’s smatterings of funk guitar and it has a very loose structure. What was the thinking behind that track? What feel were you aiming for?

It’s quite a cathartic track. About figuring things out. The different sections of the song are lyrically from very different stages of this process, the music is meant to capture the mood of the lyrics in each section. The verses are quite empty musically, and the lyrics are a bit more matter of fact and set a scene. The bridge is day-dreamy and acts as a transition to the more exclamatory choruses. So yeah, the vibe we went for was guided by the lyrics.

Despite being very musically complex, your songs also have a real focus on lyricism and song writing, which people often don’t associate with electronic music. Are lyrics just as important to you in a song as the melodies?

For me the lyrics are just as important as the music. The exciting thing is the interplay between the meaning of the lyrics and the emotional power of the music they are set to. The fact that we write electronic music simply means there are more possibilities to experiment with this interplay. Song writing is always the most important thing, no matter how much we experiment it’s important to us that all parts end up being in service to the song as a whole.

“The fact that we write electronic music simply means there are more possibilities to experiment with”

This might sound weird, but there’s something a little bit Japanese, a bit Ryuichi Sakamoto, about some of the tracks, especially the title track. I also can’t help but notice that your name and the track names are also written in Japanese on the EP cover. Is that a deliberate thing or am I just imagining connections?

Troupe was the product of a day of writing with whatever instruments we had lying around. One of those happened to be a sort of bamboo zither, not sure what its real name is! The track came about quite organically. Also we’d been watching a lot of Studio Ghibli, so I think that influenced it. I was in Tokyo a few months ago and one of the things I loved way Japanese adverts look. They jam so much text in, really busy to a western eye, we tried to capture that on our EP cover. A friend of ours also has his EP in tower records in Tokyo so maybe it’s partly a subconscious pissing contest, and we’re hoping to get our EP stocked there!

Your songs are so detailed and so layered with a multitude of different sounds and melodies. How do you replicate them live?

There are five of us. Drums bass and guitar with a bunch of pedals. Then the last two of us have laptops on stage which we can use for sampling and bringing the production elements into the live performance. It’s always been a goal to make the electronics as live as possible!

What can we expect in general from a gig by Lunacre?

We’ve been told our live set is where the music really comes to life. So if you enjoy the records you’ve heard then hopefully you’ll find the show even better, hearing the songs straight from the horse’s mouth.

The homepage of your website features flowers, flying fish and what appears to be a cloth man who’s gone deep sea diving. Basically, it’s gorgeous. Who designed it and what was the concept behind it?

That cloth man is a puppet called Dondon. He’s the star of our music video for Engine, which we’ll be releasing very soon. The guys we teamed up with for this video run a Barge in west London which puts on puppet shows and the scene on the website is a snippet from that. So I guess they designed it! Those guys do beautiful puppetry, the Puppet theatre barge is well worth checking out!

On subject of art concepts, can you tell us a bit about the idea behind the cover for Troupe?

Well the blue shape is a painting an artist called Conor Chignoli did for our debut track Bletchley. It’s become a bit of a logo so we decided to stamp it on our faces. And we liked the picture of us all holding guinea pigs. They’re easy to look after and make an ideal first pet.

Whose guinea pigs are they?

They are my Guinea pigs. Like them? I’ve got plenty more.

Luncare play with What We Call Progress, Plaza and Nico Cara at the Head of Steam, Newcastle on Friday 3rd July.

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