All photos by Jake Lewis
Everyone loves intimate gigs; it’s the chance to experience live music in a pure form. You get close to the artist. Their eyes lock with yours. It’s beautiful. Sofar Sounds understand this beauty – for the last few years they’ve been putting on shows in living rooms. Last Thursday - as part of GAP’s #summerloves campaign – Sofar Sounds threw a massive event at The Red Gallery in Shoreditch. The event was a lot bigger than anything they've ever done before, but still felt as intimate as ever.
The line-up featured Charlie Cunningham, RHODES, and Say Lou Lou – the beautiful Swedish/Australian duo who’ve dominated the pop soundscape with their ethereal soundscapes. Say Lou Lou are twins and like most twins they’re connected; they talk over each other, finish each other’s sentences, and simultaneously exclaim the same phrases.
We caught up with Say Lou Lou for a quick chat before the event.
You’re playing at Sofar Sounds – the idea behind it is getting artists to play in strange places. Where would you love to play a show?
Miranda: The woods -
Elektra: - but lots of festivals take place in the woods.
Miranda: On an airplane - a private jet for like ten people and we would have a little soiree on the plane.
How would you choose the people?
Miranda: Ok, maybe not ten people. It couldn’t be, like, a coach. Because you need space.
Elektra: The other day we were sitting on a Scandinavian Airlines flight and the stewardess…
Both: The steward.
Elektra: He was a really cute guy. And he said - before we land, I’ve got a special announcement to make. There are two very special people on this flight.
Both: We were like – Oh My God. They know it’s our birthday.
Elektra: We’d spent four hours on the flight.
Both: And we were sick.
Miranda: And we hadn’t got any birthday wishes on that day. I was kind of bummed out – like, no one cares about our birthday.
Elektra: And he goes – there are two people on this flight and they’ve been married for thirty-two years today. I’ve got a little song to sing for them. He started to sing this really cheesy Swedish song. [sings the song]. And then he starts wailing. [starts to wail]. The whole plane was laughing. And then he went…
Both: [start singing a strange European song in a high-pitched voice]
Elektra: It was like Eurovision. Everyone started applauding.
Miranda: So, long story short - a gig on a plane can be done. It can be sung through the speakers.
Elektra: But it would be fun to do a proper show with a little mini amp.
Miranda: Or you could do it in a normal plane and run through the aisles.
Elektra: We elaborated.
You played your first show to 1,000 people. How did that happen?
Elektra: We put our first song out – “Maybe You” - we weren’t really expecting anything to happen and then it did – on the same day. We had no time to prepare. We had never stood on stage.
Miranda: We didn’t have a live band.
Elektra: Our producers - two really…
Both: Producer types.
Elektra: Little caveman…
Elektra: … from Northern Sweden. They did it. We were booked for a huge festival.
Miranda: It was because we signed with a booking agency before we played a show. They booked us in for a bunch of shows -
Elektra: – you need to start somewhere! It was an opening slot at a big festival in
Stockholm. We played after Icona Pop played – you know that song?
Both: [Start singing Icona Pop’s “I Love It”]
Elektra: Everyone was raving. And then enter Saint Lou Lou – no one has ever heard us play, no one knew who we were, maybe they had heard “Maybe You” on Soundcloud. It’s a really floaty song. Miranda had a sinus infection.
Miranda: In other words – it was pretty shite. But it was a good experience.
You’re always travelling around. Are you hating it yet?
Miranda: I hate that you don’t have time to see anything properly. You’re in all these wonderful places – that you’ve always dreamed of travelling to – but then you’re only there for two days and have lots of things to do. You often get a bad impression because you remember the place as being stressed, being tired, being hungry.
Elektra: We’ve been to New York five times now. Every time we’re there it’s for two nights.
Miranda: And then you remember the place as work.
Elektra: As the job you did. We were in LA for six weeks. But we were in the studio for eight, nine hours a day. We didn’t have a day off. So LA for me is being freezed to death by air conditioning. But we’re so grateful that we get to do it.
Where else have you been recording the album?
Miranda: Sweden, Australia, mostly London and Stockholm.
Elektra: A little bit of LA.
Miranda: Bits and bobs.
You describe your music as dream-pop. What’s the weirdest dream you’ve had?
Miranda: I dreamt last night that Dev Hynes tried to give us hallucinogenic drugs.
Elektra: He’s the sweetest guy ever! He would never do that.
Miranda: I know. But we were supposed to play this game. The hallucinogenic drugs accidently flew up into our noses and everything I painted turned into real life. I painted a shark and the sea and it became real. A shark tried to eat lots of children… [continues talking about a dream that includes tattoos, primary school teachers, and more Dev Hynes].
I love dreams! You were on the BBC Sound of 2014 list – your career has kept skyrocketing at a fast pace. What’s been the highs and the lows?
Miranda: The high is that we were never stuck in a rut – everything came to us. But at the same time it’s hard because you don’t really get comfortable in your role as an artist before you’re expected to do things. We were expected to play a show that was brilliant – after two months. We had one song.
Elektra: We were expected to have experience and to be quick at writing songs.
We were thrown in at the deep end. We’ve been scrutinised since day one: our first gig ever in London was reviewed by NME. And that was the second time we’d ever stood on stage in our life. But on the other hand – we got to compete against bands that’ve been playing for ten years.
Miranda: We’re fortunate that someone cared. The highs have definitely outshined the lows.
You call your fans Loupies. I love that. How would you describe the average loupie?
Both: Nineteen, twenty.
Miranda: I would say late teens, early adult.
Do you have the guys that wait outside the show for you?
Elektra: They’re not in love with us.
Miranda: They like us.
Elektra: And they want to be…
Both: Friends with us.
Elektra: It’s not sexual at all. You get the occasional twenty-five year old guy who is like – I want to sleep with you, can I date you, that sort of stuff. But mostly it’s young girls and boys that connect to the songs and feel emotional about them.
Miranda: And want to know more about the meaning behind everything.
Elektra: Loads of artists we meet are like – my songs aren’t about anything. They’re just words. But every one of our songs has a meaning and means something and is a story.
Is there a big story behind the debut album?!
Miranda: The theme is that it’s dreams.
Elektra: Dreams and stories.
Miranda: We want all the songs to feel dreamy; in a literal sense that the soundscape is dreamy or that the story is dreamy.
Elektra: You already touched upon dreams. How great!
;) If you could describe the debut album in three words, what would they be?
Miranda: Urm… dreams. Sassy sexy and single. No! I’m kidding.
Elektra: Oh my god! Shut up!
Miranda: Elektra… say the first word.
Miranda: No that’s not the first word.
Miranda: Sensual, romantic, and melodic.
Perfect – you’ve got three words there. Nice one!
The next Sofar Sounds event takes place June 24. It’s all a big secret – the line-up and location have not yet been announced. But secrets are great right? Head to sofarsounds.com to apply.