Refused by Pitchfork, loved by the Europeans – the American Son Lux has a tough time with his electro inspired postrock. But giving up isn't his cup of tea.
Six years ago Ryan Lott moved from Atlanta to New York to realise his dream of being a composer. In addition to his work for commercials he started his own music project as Son Lux. In 2008 he released his debut “At War With Walls And Mazes“, followed by “We Are Rising“ three years later. Now it is up to “Lanterns“, an album with soundscapes floating between dazzling beats, warm pop and open-minded post rock – in a country full of boundless possibilities of sound.
artistxite: Your last record “We Are Rising“ gained awestruck critics. Did you feel any pressure by this success while working on "Lanterns"?
Ryan Lott: It's funny. I did a lot of interviews for German and European media but almost none for the US press. Pitchfork even refused to review my album. So my perception of "We Are Rising" wasn't very good at all. Though I was very proud about the interest in Europe, I never thought of "We Are Rising" as a huge success. Therefore, no, I did not feel any pressure when I startet working on "Lanterns"
artistxite: Wow, and what about now? Is the US media paying any attention to "Lanterns"?
Lott: Now it is different. Although I made a press tour through europe a few weeks ago, I do not in the US. But I am fine with that. Actually the response to “Lanterns“ is overwhelming. I got a lot of attention by fans via Facebook and Twitter. And even Pitchfork just released a review. I did not read it but checked the valuation which seems supportive.
arstistxite: You mentioned social media like Twitter and Facebook. Don't you think as current artist these tools connect you even better with your fans than the media coverage will?
Lott: In the current situation so much happens over social media. There is this enthusiasm to share the things you love, whether it is music or any other kind of art. It is about how it makes you feel, how it appeals to you and these are the things social media make possible; you can share your emotions and favourite things with other people. So I am most happy about people's reaction when they have heard “Lanterns“ and tell me through these tools how much they like it. It's a humbling honour for me. That is especially because I know this kind of music I am doing is strange and I am surprised if people even like it. It is a soulshaking experience to get all this feedback.
artistxite: How did you approach “Lanterns“? Did you have any concept or vision for the record?
Lott: The songs came together over a quite long period of time. They merged from multiple ideas, ongoing experimentation and the musician's exploring potential. I had no goal in mind except being open-minded to what might happen. To me it is important to allow investigation and to allow the things that might happen. And at some point the songs find their way and collect themselves suitably for the record.
artistxite: To me “Laterns“ is epic and opulent on one hand but also gloomy and confusing; but then “Pyre“ changes the whole direction of the songs into a more warm zone. What happenend there?
(c) Mallory Talty
Lott: You mean “Pyre“ as a turn? I don't know. I didn't regard it this way yet. But my goal in creating music is always to make music which has a numerable outcome of interpretation to people. That is what I intended with the songs on “Lanters“ but not that specfic as you describe it. I don't want the music to dictate to the listener what to think and feel. Regarding it this way, everything is exactly the way you said it.
Lott: That's interesting. Though Sufjan is a good friend of mine, his music never has been an influence to me, because he composes the total opposite to the way I do music. He is more traditional having the song first and then adding instruments. I investigate the sound, searching for a melody that works.
I am not sure to whom I wanna be compared. You know it is a difference to be compared to an artist or to name him as influence. For example some people compared my music to James Blake
. But I've never heard his record before I started with my album. Now that I've had heard it, I'm honoured because he could have been definitely an influence to me.
artistxite: You used to work as a composer for commercials. How did you manage the balancing act between making music as a professional job and the creative process as an artist?
Lott: Yes, composing commercials has been a fulltime job I did for some years. I started in 2007 while working on my first record and continued until 2012. Being in this business fulltime costs you an incredible amount of energy and focus. You'll never know when the work will be finished – it might be a day or a month. Now I am working more as a freelancer, composing music for dance companys and other stuff.