Getting in touch with her feminine side, L’Rain has created an album full of raw authenticity and sensuality. Along with bandmates Andrew Lappin and Ben Chapoteau-Katz, they have created a musical narrative that unfolds with a sense of vulnerability, inviting the audience to take part in an emotional journey; creating a truly intimate listening. The album title, I Killed Your Dog, sets the tone for the tracks with its haunting vocals and a pulsating rhythm that weaves a narrative of heartbreak and remorse.
Taking influence from pop, jazz, soul, and experimental rock, this album is a whirlwind of experiences. Like a story, the album has a set beginning and end, but with a rollercoaster of feeling within – the plot of this story being one about loss. Hoping that people will resonate and relate to her tracks and lyrics, L’Rain wants her listeners to feel grounded and recognised. L’Rain presents her emotions on a silver platter, ready to be consumed by her listeners. Facing the uncertainty of separateness, L’Rain delves into the developments we go through after experiencing a break-up and the changes to time and space that occur, witnessing intimacy pass by “in the rearview mirror”.
L’Rain will be accompanied by Justin Felton, Zachary Levine-Caleb, and Timothy Angulo whilst touring the UK and EU this coming year, which is sure to be a compelling and poignant experience.
Do you remember the specific moment when you decided music was your calling? Or has it always been a goal of yours or a presence in your life?
Music has always been around and I always knew it would be a part of my life but I never considered that it was possible to play music professionally. Honestly, even when I was starting to play music professionally I didn’t think it was possible to play music professionally – I was in a state of delusion maybe. None of it felt real. I think I had (have?) outdated ideas about work that I’m still trying to unlearn.
Congratulations on the recent release of your new album, I Killed Your Dog! You have said previously that this album is an expression of your alter ego, L’. How are you able to separate your self from this other that you have created?
Thank you! It’s becoming increasingly harder to figure out who the quote unquote real me is, separate from the many other versions of me that exist. Maybe that’s the point? Maybe I’m the composite of all of these selves. L’ started out as a funny alter ego when I was a teenager. She’s kind of loud, abrasive, and thinks quicker than she talks so everything she says comes out a little jumbled. She’s brave, confident, and unintentionally hilarious. I would slip into this character every now and then as a kid, and the name L’Rain is in part an homage to her.
This album isn’t really aiming towards displaying the wrongdoings of others but is rather a self-analysis discussing grief, guilt, and regret. Why did you choose to take this stance when so many other artists choose to focus on other people’s mistakes?
I only have agency over myself, not over others. I think it’s important to start with myself, knowing that whatever I am thinking through in my own life will somehow, in time, reverberate outwards toward other people. I trust that whatever I’m feeling will resonate out there in the world. I’m trying my best to transmute the energy required to identify my own mistakes into the strength and resolve to repair them. I want to become a healthier person in general, and hope that on that path of personal growth, I’ll also positively influence the world around me.
What inclined you to blend other-worldly soul with the modern sound of synthesisers? To me, it feels as though it’s to emphasise the ethereal, siren-esque softness of your voice, creating a mythical land through your sound. However, you said in a previous interview that your goal wasn’t to be separate from the world, but rather to ground your work in reality. How do you think you achieved this? Was it more through your lyrics that you aimed to secure this grounding?
For me, it’s both: I’m interested in world-building through composition and production, but I also want the world I’m building to be relatable and grounded. I want to experiment and try new things but I don’t want to completely alienate people. Thematically too: I’m guessing most people have had to navigate difficult points in an important friendship or other relationship. I’m one of many.
As for my interest in synthesisers, I think it was fun to step into newer territory–we haven’t leaned as heavily into synthesisers on other records. My collaborator Ben is also an incredible synthesist, so we followed his interest a bit.
When I was following your album through its progression, I noticed a rise and fall in its intensity, going from the mellow melody of Our Funeral to the unsettling interlude in Uncertainty Principle. Even during Uncertainty Principle, there is a clear imbalance in the tone and pace. Is this reflecting what was going on in your mind when producing this album or was it merely for aesthetic purposes? Was it your goal to evoke similar feelings in your listeners?
My collaborators and I think a lot about cadence and try to imagine the journey of listening to an album: the timing of peaks and valleys, when to introduce certain sounds and ideas, creating an intentional beginning and ending. I think the sequence of a record can change how you hear individual songs on it. We generally try to achieve a kind of steady ebb and flow through different feelings and moods, but sometimes a sudden shift feels necessary if we’ve been in a particular sonic space for a while.
Where did you find your samples from? Your first track on the album, Sincerity Commercial, features a speech, why did you choose this specific speaker? What was it in this speech that struck a chord with you?
I generally sample myself, and if I do use a recording of someone else it’s usually a recording I took myself or that was sent to me (a message on voicemail or something like that). This segment from Bill T. Jones fits in with the record’s themes in a lot of ways: the conflation of disaster and love, the implication of loss, the otherworldliness of dreams. I’d completely forgotten that I had this recording and I stumbled upon it in the middle of working on the record. It seemed like a sign that I was on the right path.
Was the speaker in What’s That Song someone you know? To me, it sounded like your own thoughts, trying to figure out what to include in your album. Following on from this, how was your experience when creating the album? Is there anyone in particular that you’d like to mention because of their helpfulness or just because of their good vibes?
Yes! That’s my friend D, who DJs as Fresco D. The interlude features a message they sent me a while ago, trying to find the name of a song that was stuck in their head. We then made up a song to accompany the message, kind of embracing and poking fun at people who call my music jazz.
There’s so many other people to shout out! I’ll spare you the full credits, but today, I’m especially grateful for Joselia Rebekah Hughes, an incredible artist whose voice and writing begins All the Days You Remember; Spencer Murphy, the voice of Oh Wow, a Bird!; and Steve Head, who made miracles happen at the studio at Pulp Arts, literally making a fretless bass appear out of thin air among many other things.
Obviously, your mum was a huge part of your life. How have you managed to harvest your grief and turn it into such a beautiful piece of art? Losing someone you love whether that be emotionally or physically is incredibly hard, was this new album a way for you to channel and make sense of your emotions
L’Rain in general is a channel for me to sort out parts of my life that are especially difficult and processing grief, of all kinds, is always a subtext of the music I make. The entirety of this project is dedicated to my mum; L’Rain is a purposeful misspelling of her first name. In general, pursuing a solo (or quote unquote solo) project is also an homage to her: she would always ask me if I would ever consider releasing something on my own, after years of playing in bands. I was never interested until I was. Unsurprisingly, my mother ended up being right.
What, in your opinion, is the root of all modern music? I recently watched a documentary (The Last Angel of History, John Akomfrah, 1996) that discussed how the Blues is the origin sound of all genres. What is the root sound of this album, or your sound in general?
The root of this album, and of my music in general might not exist in a sonic sense. I would say that I am the root. I don’t think a genre can be discussed separately from the culture and people that create it. And culture and people are constantly evolving.
What era of time has had the biggest influence on you? ‘90s R&B, ‘20s jazz, or even ‘80s techno?
The music I really love feels timeless to me: it’s unclear whether it comes from 50, 100, 200 years in the past or 50, 100, 200 years in the future. But, if I have to choose between those three it would definitely be 90s R&B. I listened to so much as a kid, and I still love it so so so much.
To me there is also a deep connection between 90s R&B and baroque music, and those two genres in particular had a big imprint on me as a kid studying piano and listening to the radio. They are both genres that are influenced by the church, they’re both highly ornamental, they have harmonic similarities, and I even think there are timbral similarities–remember the harpsichord sound on Bills, Bills, Bills and other songs from that era?!
You have said that this album is a conversation with your younger self. Although this may be a cliché question, if she were to be sitting in front of you right now, how would you reassure her and prepare her for the future? Is there even a question you wish you could ask your younger self?
I would reassure her and hug her! I’d tell her to pay close attention to all the things that come naturally to her, feel right and feel fun. I’d tell her to hold on to all of those things and to nurture them, not be afraid of them. I would also probably tell her to try to be more organised and label the tracks on those Garageband files a little clearer!
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Upcoming Tour Dates
Mon, 19 Feb, 2024 - Glasgow - The Hug & Pint
Tue, 20 Feb, 2024 - Leeds - Brudenell Social Club
Wed, 21 Feb, 2024 - London - Barbican Centre (Milton Court)
Fri 23 Feb, 2024 - Manchester - YES
Sat 24 Feb, 2024 - Bristol - Simple Things Festival
Sun 25 Feb, 2024 - Brighton - Patterns
Tue 27 Feb, 2024 - Brussels, Belgium - AB Club
Wed 28 Feb, 2024 - Paris, France - Bourse De Commerce (As Part of Les Inrocks)
Fri 1 Mar, 2024 Netherlands Utrecht EKKO
Sun 3 Mar, 2024 Germany Hamburg Kampnagel
Tue 5 Mar, 2024 Germany Berlin Volksbühne