Owens did not begin her career in music, but healthcare, working as an auxiliary nurse in a cancer ward. In this role, she learned a great deal from her patients and followed their advice to pursue her passion, music. She has also spoken about her experiences in this ward as giving her proximate experiences of death. Her attention to healing and trauma is especially present on this album. From the opening song, Kelly Lee Owens introduces the theme of bodily and psychic release. She pairs the mantra-like lyric, “release,” with “the heartbeat of a kick drum” to lead us into the album – and to help us use dance and movement to release embodied trauma.
Owens began her career in some of London's coolest record stores. She would meet some of her first collaborators in Pure Groove, Rough Trade and Sister Ray. She found her momentum and sound there, befriending Daniel Avery, James Greenwood, DJ Andrew Weatherall, and many others, and would contribute to their projects throughout the years. It was also there that she first met Björk for whom she would later work on a remix. Briefly working with a band, she sought to find her own path and would go on to release her self-titled debut album in 2017 to quick acclaim.
Then, the pandemic happened. Her second album, Inner Songs, was delayed in its release. She was stuck in London for a year and would not leave until she flew to Norway, an hour before borders closed once again. In Oslo, she felt “calm, peaceful and hopeful,” and began work on her most recent album with Norwegian musician Lasse Marhaug.
LP.8’s themes are not new for Owens. Yet, she seems to present a collection uniquely focused on the healing power of sound with this project. As she tells us, the album is a collection of sounds that are a starting point in many ways. But the music is not enough in and of itself. In a listening party at Sydney’s The Phoenix Centre, Owens curated a special night and invited the audience to lie on the ground to experience her music. She also released a fragrance with Haeckels to enhance the listening experience of LP.8; it's all about grounding yourself in your body and beginning the healing process. The trauma of the Covid years is immense and collective, and her album is an urgent reminder of the necessity of healing. Kelly Lee Owens discusses her work process, her relationship to sound and her love of all things analogue.