LUNGS : Interview
“There are millions of people in bands playing songs and behaving like models. That’s not what we are though.” Why LUNGS are different from everyone else.
“Ultimately we always want LUNGS to be about what we create, not who we are,” says singer Suzie Blake.
It is a statement as true as it gets when it comes to LUNGS, a duo full of feeling, expression and emotion that resonates through everything they do. LUNGS are much more a way of experiencing art and music than merely making it. It encompasses you and it is near on impossible to not sense the feeling and pain that has been put in to the songs themselves. Upon formation in early 2012, Blake and Guillemots guitarist Mclord Magrao started messing around with ideas until they had their first song, Calling My Name. Since then the idea of LUNGS has evolved into much more of an artistic project than just a band.
On visiting LUNGS’ tumblr site you can see that these two artists are not merely concerned with making music but want to create an impression, a certain atmosphere around the songs that they create. The site is full of brilliant photography by both Suzie Blake and Mclord Magrao and focuses on the ambient and atmospheric, coinciding perfectly with the music that LUNGS produce.
“As a photographer I was beginning to feel a bit disheartened with the art, or the trade I should say. I trained the old school way, in the darkroom, but with digital technology the art has changed significantly,” Blake explains.
“I was doing a lot of work for music magazines like the NME. The problem is when you’re working for a client they want you to shoot in a certain way. They have a certain style and you have to comply with that. I was starting to feel like my creative freedom was being taken away from me. I was just the girl who pulled the trigger.”
You get the sense from both Magrao and Blake that they are very much individuals. Individuals struggling with the creative stifling of the outside world and their own want and yearning to create an identity for themselves; something that is uniquely theirs and uninfluenced by the shackles of the commercial art forms.
“I was using a lot of old photographic techniques; expired film, double exposure and things like that. There wasn’t a lot of interest though – I guess it’s hard to find a market for it”, Blake continues, “As LUNGS evolved I thought why not channel my art through this. Interestingly, a lot of the way in which I create my photos is like how we make our music: lots of layering, quite dark and moody, but always with a touch of beauty.”
What influences LUNGS do have are obscure and very much separated from the art forms and music they produce. LUNGS are about what they, as human beings, experience in life and the emotions these occurrences conjure up. With a rich cultural background, originating from Blake’s upbringing in Australia, where she sang in choirs before moving to London seven years ago and Magrao’s Brazilian heritage it is easy to see how LUNGS have developed in the organic and natural way that they have.
“I have always been influenced by sounds in general, from typewriters to jack hammers. You know, I love the sound of a traffic jam in Sao Paulo at 7am or of a construction site. There is music and melodies all around us; it just depends on whether you can find the time to listen to it with an open mind,” Magrao elaborates.
“I guess it would be stupid of me to limit myself to only sounds created by musical instruments. Experimentation is something that I find very important and as far as LUNGS goes we try to combine everything that we know in order to create our own sound.”
So what about the music? The first thing that stands out upon listening to any of LUNGS supposed demos is how well produced and cleanly recorded it is. It is almost impossible to comprehend that these really are just demos, a collection of five songs used to test the water and experiment with while still discovering what works and what doesn’t. They sound finished, album recorded; everything about the songs and their structure hint at a band with enormous potential, already accomplished in their song writing and genre.
Maybe it is because of the extensive back catalogue that Magrao has already garnered through Guillemots and other side projects but the beats, delayed guitar and production hint at a composer with a real focus and knowledge of what he wants to do with this project. It is a seamless complement to Blake’s beautifully layered voice and scrupulously yearning lyrics of pain and suffering.
LUNGS are very much about creating their distinct personality through the music and art that fits so flawlessly aside it. That said, on listening to Loner and Calling My Name you can hear shades of Crystals Castles and Polica respectively; two bands that have captured the feeling and emotion of today better than anyone else has over the last couple of years. This is something that LUNGS should embrace, for while these two bands have become two of the best exports in their genre from across the pond there is nothing on our tiny little island that offers music lovers the same kind of unyielding and uncompromising passion. The only stumbling block could be the lack of live experience or the difficulty playing live with only two people and such a complicated sound and setup.
“Playing live is a bit tricky; we are still working on it at the moment. It’s just the two of us with drum machines, loops and a bit of backing track, eventually if we find the right people we might introduce a drummer and bass player to play live,” Magrao explains.
However, should LUNGS get their live setup perfected it could be a visual experience not to be missed and catapult them from the potential of being a cult project to achieving something on a far larger scale.
“We are also working on projections for the live shows including photos, paintings and films that we have worked on. Hopefully when you see us we have this working,” Magrao expands.
Whatever is in the pipeline for LUNGS in 2013 they are very much a band (if you can simply call them this) that has huge potential to create something special, whether it be through their music, art, writing or film. Ignore them at your peril and embrace them with open arms for they could be the most exciting thing you experience this year.
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