As noted on Ayetunes recently, when talking about the release of their new single, we haven’t heard a great deal from Laki Mera since the release of an EP last year.
So it was a pleasant surprise to hear More Than You cropping up on 6 Music last month as breakfast presenter Shaun Keaveney’s single of the week.
A dreamy, melodic slice of mature pop, it could easily fit with the mould of this whole ‘nightbus’ thing we’re hearing about – basically dreamy, melodic mature pop, with the atmosphere cranked up. The xx seemed to have been credited with creating the scene (???) but see also James Blake.
But I digress… Laki Mera could also be compared to the off-kilter likes of Dubstar or St Etienne or the more down the middle sounds of Feist. Either way, their star seems to be in the ascendent and debut album The Proximity Effect is expected next month.
While there have been denials from their ‘people’ that they’re on a major label, a representative from one such company is involved with their PR, and from the perspective of boosting this excellent band’s profile, that’s no bad thing.
Multi-instrumentalist and production magician Andrea Gobbi talked to us about the band and their plans.
Describe your sound in ten words or less!
Strong tunes on top of layered acoustic-electronic atmoshperics.
How did the band come together?
Laura (Donnelly – vocals) and I met while working in a bar together in the west end of Glasgow. We collaborated on a few tunes and thought they would work well played live. I already knew Keir (Harbinson – keyboards) and had begun working on electronic compositions together for a few film and theatre projects. Laura knew Tim (Long – drums) from his previous band that had just broken up. Trevor, the cellist who is no longer with us, was the sound engineer for Tim’s previous band. So a bunch of loose connections, coincidences and a shared interest in experimenting with the realisation of electronic music on live instruments brought us together.
We started rehearsing in a tiny recording studio in the east end. At the beginning it was just some fun experimentation and quite a lot of partying. But after a short while it became clear to us that we had something that was worth committing to.
What are your key influences?
We have widely ranging influences that are changing all the time as new stuff comes out. Here are a few: Aphex Twin, Radiohead, Bjork, Múm, Efterklang, PJ Harvey, Mouse on Mars, Stereolab, Serge Prokoviev, Funki Porcini, Squarepusher, Schneider TM, Stina Nordenstam, Four Tet, Drexciya, The Orb, Venetian Snares, Plaid, My Bloody Valentine, Talking Heads, Sonic the Hedgehog, Feist, Midlake, obscure beatless electro….
Laki Mera – interesting name, what does it mean?
Laki Mera is a derivative of the Italian for Chimera. Sounds a bit poncy I know, but I’m actually Italian, so it’s OK. Anyway, in mythology a Chimera is any creature that is made up of parts from various animals (linking with our ideal of merging and fusing genres). It also relates to an ephemeral hope or dream – something ungraspable. This second meaning resonates with us because of our love of atmospheric sounds and the conjuring up of very subtle textured layers of sound that have something of the dream about them.
How does it feel knowing you have a record on its way?
It feels really great. We have a very good relationship with them [our label - Just Music] and they have been so supportive of us from the start. We feel very lucky to be involved with a label who are so committed to our artistic freedom – I don’t think that is very common. As far as the record is concerned, we’re just glad of the exposure that is now available to us. I don’t think we feel huge amounts of pressure because we have all been working together and gigging (together and separately) for a long time. Success (or whatever you call it) would feel like the natural fruition of many years hard work, but at the same time we are aware that nothing is guaranteed no matter how much support you have. We are all pretty committed to music anyway. So in short, excited and at the same time curtailing expectations.
Tell us a little bit about the recording process.
The recording took about six months to complete and we did it between our studio in the east end and a cottage up in the north-west of Scotland. After a couple of months we actually started again from scratch because we felt that our approach wasn’t organic enough. So on the second effort we tried to give ourselves a lot of freedom to experiment with different instruments, sounds and approaches – old bells, the fizzing of pepsi cans, hitting bodhran drums, etc. I think early on we maybe felt some pressure to deliver that actually quashed our ability to be as expressive as we would have liked. We were helped by the fact that we know the studio space very well - we have been working from this studio for a long time now on various projects and commissions and recordings for other bands. A real treat was working with string players from the Royal Scottish Symphony Orchestra. We had never done anything like this before, so it was exciting to write out scores and arrangements for them and hear them played back better even than we had imagined them.
For three tracks we felt we needed a totally different atmosphere, so for this we went up to a wee turf house in a place on the west coast called Achiltibuie. It was such a magical place – we were recording with a full window view of the Highlands right beside a white sand beach. We really think some of that feeling of spaciousness has been represented on the album.
Can we expect any festival shows? What are you planning for the rest of the year?
We have a busy summer and there are a few things still to be confirmed. But for now we have a small Scottish tour planned for the middle of June – after the launch gigs in May in London and Glasgow.
More Than You is available to listen to below. There’s plenty of live dates listed on their Facebook page with a few festival highlights below.
London Bushstock festival, May 7,
Glasgow Stag and Dagger, May 21.
Sunrise Celebration (Somerset), June 3
Deer Shed Festival (Yorkshire), June 23-24