INTERVIEW: Lomea talks gear, inspiration and sound-craft ahead of upcoming album

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Multi-instrumentalist, fine-artist and producer Lomea readies himself for the release of his sophomore album Echoes In Bloom on May 31st. The first single lifted from the album is ‘You Are Your Memories’ which recently premiered on Electronic Groove, and his forthcoming release, set for May 24th, will be new single ‘Reach.’

Born and raised in London, Lomea has a musical background in guitar and piano. His idiosyncratic soundscape is an experimentation of unusual timing, found sound and classical instruments. His multi-layered, processed, filtered and acoustic guitars coupled with all manner of synths, field recordings, effects and electronics lends itself as much to Alternative, Post and Prog Rock as it does Dance Music with nods to Filmscore and Classical Music too.

His background in Fine Art has also reverberates with this release. For the cover art he created an interlocking series of 9 canvas paintings inspired by the concept of Ouroboros, the ancient circular symbol depicting a snake swallowing its tail, symbolising unity, wholeness, two opposites coming together as one.

We caught up with him for an in-depth look into his Soundcraft, his influences and his gear.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

I’ve always been creative in one way or another. As a kid, I had quite a vivid imagination and would always draw and make up surreal short stories. I sometimes paint (I’ve done the cover art for my upcoming album) and if I wasn’t making music I’d most likely be involved in some other art form.

I’d be at a loss without the ability to express myself musically; it’s an essential outlet and often a form of catharsis as it allows me to express things in an infinitely more profound way than I ever could with language.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

It varies a lot from track to track.

Sometimes a rhythmic idea will come seemingly from nowhere, while I’m watching a film or out walking in the woods. So I have to rush to the computer or record myself tapping it out somewhere on my phone just so I don’t forget it. That was the case with a track called Rubatosis. Or I can be inspired by the overall atmosphere or aesthetic of a film; the track Pinastri from my EP Otherness, for instance, is inspired by a film called The Duke of Burgundy.

Often a happy accident in the studio will act as a springboard to somewhere else entirely. For example a track called Reach was originally going to be an acoustic-oriented collaboration with a singer, but I stumbled upon a kick drum rhythm on a drum synth kind of by accident which suddenly inspired me to shake up the track completely and it turned into this really heavy techno thing (in the second half anyway). It changed in one afternoon from this wishy-washy collab track which was going nowhere to what is I think one of the best things I’ve done in years.  

What’s on your current playlist?

(In no order)

Tangerine Dream

Lakker

Modeselektor

Radiohead

Cinematic Orchestra

Jaga Jazzist

Kadhja Bonet

Snarky Puppy

Jakob

Johann Johannsson

Steely Dan

Christopher Willits

Hammock

Opeth

Julia Kent

Emilie Nicolas

Boards of Canada

Paatos

Three Trapped Tigers

Bvdub

Steven Wilson

Kaki King

Bjork

Jordan Rakei

Meshuggah

Steve Hauschildt

Arvo Part

Clark

Steve Reich

Autechre

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

  • Unusual tunings on a guitar.
  • Manipulating sounds with guitar pedals, and using them sometimes as instruments in their own right
  • Experimenting with odd time signatures and polyrhythms. Quite a lot of my music is in rhythmic patterns of 7, it’s a rhythm that feels natural to me for some reason and I love to groove it creates-
  • Layering many, many layers of acoustic guitars and synths together in an effort to create a really rich, textured sound
  • Utilising found sound ie sounds recorded out in the world with a portable microphone. A lot of the ‘woody’ sounds on the track Demina for instance are branches snapping which I recorded in a wood near where I live. And part of the reverby drum sound in Silver Touch is a door slamming in an echoey stairwell of an apartment I was staying at in Copenhagen. Elsewhere in my music I’ve used fireworks, trains rushing overhead in a tunnel, and all sort of other things. Usually to give the percussive aspects of a track an interesting extra layer.
  • Playing the exposed strings of an upright piano with a glockenspiel mallet (or something similar), which sounds a bit like a zither. The melody in my track ‘Sudden Red’ features this.
  • Always having an element of ‘performance’ in every sound that’s recorded. Obviously the guitars are all recorded performances but the synth parts (which are mostly programmed in MIDI) are often manipulated with guitar pedals while they’re recording, for example, to add an imperfect human element to it.
  • Experimenting with track structure. Gossamer (original version on my first album) and a track called Unmasked on the new one for example, both are long tracks made up of several very different, contrasting sections. I like to think of these longer tracks as short stories in musical form. Unmasked was conceived as a metaphor for how a relationship pans out, with all its peaks and troughs. I’ve always loved music which takes you on a journey and twists and turns in unexpected directions (probably partly due to growing up on progressive rock and classical music), and it’s something I often try to do with my own stuff.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

My creative process is centred around trial and error, just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. Eventually, I’ll stumble upon a beat, a chord change or whatever it might be which I find inspiring, and then I’ll hone into this to develop and embellish it further. Then it’s a case of recording other parts around it which compliment it or contrast it in interesting ways to create an atmosphere. Usually, it’ll take many weeks or months until it sounds how it does in my head.

Also, my tracks tend to end up very different from how they started. Sometimes a track will start life as a simple acoustic guitar arpeggio or melody, but then end up without any guitar on it whatsoever.

I’m very much a night owl and write my best stuff wearing headphones in the early hours when I can focus completely without distractions. And getting away from the studio occasionally into the countryside is really important too.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

Time (first year of music production degree) was a real turning point and kind of overwhelmed me in the best possible way. Hearing what people like Amon Tobin, Matthew Herbert, Clark, Autechre and others could do with sound – that’s what made me what to quit the metal band I was in and try to forge my own path by experimenting with synths, samplers etc.  

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Matt Calvert from the band Three Trapped Tigers has a really interesting album out, entirely acoustic instruments. Kind of abstract jazz/modern classical but very intimate sounding

A drummer called Richard Spaven has an amazing debut called ‘Real Time

A singer/producer called Karyyn makes really creative, interesting stuff

A Scottish post-rock band called Midas Fall I’ve been liking

A London composer called Snow Palms makes beautiful contemporary classical music

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Generally, any art which moves me in some way. It can be anything from a Kieslowski film, a Cormac McCarthy novel, an amazing painting at a gallery, whatever really that connects with me on some level and enriches my day.

Life events are very often a source of inspiration as well, both positive and negative. And a broad variety of music. I love listening to producers/composers/bands who sound only like themselves, I think idiosyncrasy is a very underappreciated factor. And more than anything I love hearing things I’ve never heard before, unusual instruments or sound design approaches – sounds which make me wonder how they were made. I find that really endlessly inspiring and exciting.

Inspiration comes and goes unpredictably, it’s a bit like the weather in as much as I have no control over it whatsoever. Sometimes I’m bursting with ideas and there aren’t enough hours in the day to get things recorded, sometimes it takes ages to get something going and staring at a blank screen can be quite intimidating.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

Cubase is my main DAW but I also use Ableton and Max/MSP.

Synths-wise I have a few analogue monosynths (I love my Moog Little Phatty for bass sounds in particular), and I use a Dave Smith Instruments MophoX4 for a lot of textural pads, arps and other synth sounds.

I love hardware but am by no means a purist; if I like how it sounds, I’ll use it.

I’ve got a bunch of electric guitars, several acoustics and a classical (which I’ve been playing since I was about 9), all of which feature on the new album. And a 12 string acoustic, the chimey, sharp sound of which has been a central part of my sound since my debut album Narratives.

Guitar pedals are a really big part of my creative process and overall sound too. In particular, I love reverbs and delays, and my Strymon pedals have been used very extensively on the new record – they’re really inspiring and sound gorgeous.

Any side projects you’re working on?

None at the moment but I have a few ideas I’m keen to explore. Would love to collaborate with a really amazing vocalist, for one thing. And something with a live band, with no computer in sight.  

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I’ve been making music since I was about 15 (being in a metal band with school friends at first), and I’ve been making electronic music on my own for about 12 years. I like to think that with each release I’ve developed and honed my sound and production a bit further. I’m always reading up about mixing and production techniques and trying to apply new knowledge to whatever I’m making at the time. The new record is definitely a step up from my debut and EPs

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

There’s the release of my second album Echoes in Bloom, which I’m really excited to get out there as I put months of my life into its writing and production. I’m intending to follow it up with a couple of EPs before the year is out. Probably one of beatless material which I’ve started working on, and one of much heavier beat-focused music. The idea is that the two can work together as two sides of the same coin. I’m also planning to (finally) start playing live soon.

Famous last words?

Looking forward to getting the album out there and heard!

Thanks

Echoes In Bloom will be released via Here & Now Recordings on 31st May.

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