Lonelyspeck is growing up. While their music still comes straight from the heart, there's something different about single "All My Skin on the Air" and its new video. The song itself grows from a smooth and luscious ride to enormous and ambitious heights, featuring soaring layers of sound.
The video, made by Lonelyspeck—real name Sione Teumohenga—themselves, also appears to light the way for this new path of maturity: a lone mannequin figure draped in a nondescript garment contorts, jerks and explodes, till it barely resembles a human body. Its maturity is subtle and sophisticated, and with a huge sense of release, relief follows.
Today on Noisey, we premiere the video for "All My Skin on the Air." Watch it below. We sat down with the Adelaide-based artists to talk about the track, the video, and of course, My Chemical Romance.
Hi Sione! So. You're a pretty big advocate for pop music, do you have a favourite pop song or record of the year? There's been a lot of good ones.
Of the year? The first one that comes to my head is ANTI by Rihanna. I listen to it so much. A lot of interesting things on there.
I know you really dig Bieber as well. What about his music attracts you, do you think?
Yeah, I really like his voice. Just his tone of voice and his personality when he sings and stuff. I guess he has different personas, almost, to me. I don't know, maybe that's putting it a bit too heavily. But he kinda has his smooth, kinda R&B sound which I really like, and then he's got that more top 40 pop kind of sound as well. But yeah, the kind of breathiness in his voice… and yeah, I think he's really good.
Would you say you're inspired by him vocally?
Yeah, definitely. At times I wish I could sing more like him. [ laughs]
Do you think pop music has a big influence on your sound, or is it more just other independent electronic artists like yourself that you're listening to?
I actually think it probably has more of an impact on my sound than indie electronic stuff. 'Cause like, I don't know, I think the fact that I make indie electronic stuff is just the midway point between all the really different things I listen to. Pop helps me to structure a lot of my music and think of melodies, whereas the textures come from more experimental stuff I listen to.
What was the first album you bought?
It might've been The Black Parade… I think I was 14. I can't remember what one I first bought with my own money versus getting my mum to buy it for me.
What's the first album you got your mum to buy for you?
That would've been Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park. That or something by Muse.
It's pretty interesting that you had this rock start and now you've ended up making these really smooth-sounding electronic songs.
Yeah, lot of the music I like now I didn't like for a long time.
You've pretty much grown up in Adelaide your whole life, right? And you've obviously toured around, been to different cities… Do you prefer cities, suburbia, or small rural towns?
I've grown up in suburbia so that feels quite homely to me, usually. I guess I like cities, I've been pretty close to the city mostly. I like that proximity. But I also really like wide, open spaces. For whatever reason that's where my heart is.
So all three?
Yeah, ha. If I could choose wherever I wanted to live it would be out in the countryside or something. I like being able to go slow and not worry about other people. [ laughs]
That's fair enough. Tell me about your love of sunsets…
It's been like a long love… Another phase. [ laughs] I think I can actually remember a time when I was starting to get really obsessed with the sky, and it never went away, really. It was some time when I was a teenager. I have a memory from when—my mum's side of the family is from country Victoria—so we'd been back there a bit, and I just remember one time when we were driving, and there was this amazing sky. I don't even remember what it looked like, I just remember it being really amazing. And I think that was the trigger moment for me to just keep looking at the sky a lot.
That's a really sweet memory. So I'm guessing you prefer sunsets to sunrises then?
I think they're both good. I just usually don't get up early, haha. If I do see sunrises it's because I stayed up all night.
Well, up until recently, a lot of people considered your aesthetic to be the sunrise palette, so I was surprised that "All My Skin on the Air" had a more muted approach.
Yeah, that was kinda conscious. I was building an aesthetic, first off, and that was just not the right aesthetic for that. My colours and stuff have been evolving, and I don't wanna be doing the same thing again.
It definitely felt more mature. And you did the video on your own. How did you get into animation?
It was actually about a year ago that I started learning it. I think originally I wanted to learn how to do game design but I got carried away with this 3D modelling program. I come from a visual arts background, and I mainly did drawing but I haven't really felt like drawing in a while. So this has been a good outlet for my visual art.
So, was it the ease of access that led to the 3D mannequin style animation rather than something 2D or stop-motion?
Yeah, and also a lot of the art I like at the moment is either 3D or photography, and I was trying to recreate those looks that I was seeing in fashion photography, obviously putting it into a weird context. But yeah, people like Jesse Kanda who's done stuff for Arca and Björk as well. I've got a list of artists and photographers that I've been looking at constantly while making stuff.
I thought it was really interesting how the song is really slow-building and a smooth ride but the figure in the video is really jerking and a bit jarring. What made you pair up the jarring movement with the song?
It kinda came from the concept of the song. How do I explain… I don't know, I guess through the whole writing of the EP, the feelings I was having at the time, I just kinda wanted to… I kept on feeling these metaphors with body stretching and moving weirdly as a cathartic thing, and I wanted to capture that with the video in some way. It's meant to be jarring and a bit confusing and confronting maybe in some ways because I wanted to convey those feelings.
Would you say your forthcoming EP revolves around the theme of catharsis? Is it a cathartic EP for you?
Yeah, it's very about growth and it's almost kind of chronological with where I was at at various stages because of the songs I put on there.
In what ways do you think this is different to your previous material other than it being centred around the concept growth?
I think it's more direct and less, um… I was thinking about it the other day and I think it's less head-in-the-clouds and more feet-on-the-ground kind of thing. Even though it might be still a bit dreamy or whatever, I was definitely consciously using sounds and putting things at the front and putting my voice at the front and not being afraid to bury things in metaphors.
Any final thoughts on the EP or song or video?
It's been really cool how much attention and praise the single has gotten so far. That's been exciting for me.
Do you think the upcoming year is going to be a big year for you?
I think so. I hope people like it. I'm proud of [the work], and I hope people see it the way I see it compared to my other stuff. I think it's more mature.
Thanks for talking to us, Sione. Lovely to meet you.
Yeah, you too. Thanks!
Read our interview with Lonelyspeck from earlier this year. Follow them on Soundcloud here.