Monday, December 15, 2008

Interview - Love.Stop.Repeat

Words: Chris Hynd
Photos: Morna West

Love.Stop.Repeat are a duo worth knowing. They create a beautiful, willowy, alt-folk sound, a beguiling mix of guitars, harmonium, accordion and the odd ukelele. Lindsay West provides the sweet vocals, Dave Millar the intricate instrumentation. They both took time out to answer the following questions.

To start off, can you give a brief history of Love.Stop.Repeat and what made you want to start the band together.

Lindsay: Dave and I have been playing music together for about a year and Dave started writing LSR songs this summer. He got me to sing these never ending lyrics and I expanded some of the melodies.

Dave: After Lindsay had helped me out with some Con Brio vocals I thought it'd be fun to try some proper songs with actual instruments away from the computer. The lyrics were adapted from scribbled poems and the vocal lines I had rough ideas for, but Lindsay took these and added strong harmonies, which ended up very much directing the structure of the songs. When Lindsay heard the first couple of demos she suggested we call ourselves a band and so Love.Stop.Repeat was born.

You both have your own projects (Dave as Con Brio and Lindsay's solo work), is it difficult to balance the two and find time for both or do you see L.S.R as your main focus for now?

Lindsay: I am finishing off an EP I’ve been working on for ages and I won’t rest until it is finished. It sounds dramatic but it’s been going on forever. LSR is getting most of the gig time at the moment, partly because Dave is super organized at booking gigs (and I’m not) but also because people dig the music! I’m happy to have both things going on right now.

Dave: I'm keen to carry on my own projects - whether it's Con Brio, the other band I'm in (Attention! All Shipping) or others, and although LSR mightn't always be the main focus for us, I'm sure we'll be able to strike a balance to make it work. It's been really rewarding so far.

Your EP was self-recorded, made and released - can you talk us through the process of putting a record out yourselves from start to finish and how difficult or easy that process was. Is it something you'd like to do again, or will we see future releases on other labels (e.g. Fence Records, who you have an association with)?

Dave: Truth be told, we hadn't actually anticipated playing these recordings to anyone. We were recording the songs as notes to remember them by really, so we could listen back later and see what we thought, but those very same recordings ended up on the EP we've been selling. We've used the Make Your Own Adventure label for the EP with a view to possibly releasing either ourselves or other artists with it in the future. I'm not sure if we'll get a chance to do that though. Running a label proper would take up too much time realistically. We're only selling CD's via Fence and our shows at the moment, so most of the work with it has been in the manufacturing. I think we might have got carried away with the design a little, but they've come out looking great so it's worth the hours we have to put in making them. It's nice to see people picking them up at shows and actually parting with their hard earned pennies for them.

Speaking of Fence, how helpful have they been with what you do? Recently, you played the Halloween weekender in Anstruther, how did you find the weekend and were you pleased with the reaction your set got?

Dave: Fence have been very supportive. Johnny Lynch was really positive about the tracks we put up on our MySpace page, offered to sell the EP in their shop and invited us up to play in Anstruther. We really weren't sure how it might work live and didn't know what sort of reaction we might get. Before the Halloween show we'd just played the one gig in Edinburgh a couple of days beforehand. We were really nervous for that show, but the reception we got was fantastic and really encouraging. It made the prospect of playing after the likes of the Pictish Trail, HMS Ginafore, James Yorkston and King Creosote that bit less scary. We went on and up stood Johnny (Pictish), Kenny (KC) and Gav (OnTheFly) in front of what seemed to be a wall of Fence fans, which I found completely daunting, but again we played and to my surprise there seemed a couple of people singing along. The reaction we got really couldn't have been better.

One thing I got from your EP was a sense of nostalgia for people and places in your songs, - is that a fair comment? Does the landscape around you shape your music or is it a simple case of you writing about what you know, e.g. your lives, travels around the country etc.

Dave: I suppose for my part, it's all of those things. For instance, "Secrets and Slumber" describes a meadow near where I work I've been known to slip away to for a quiet hour or two. Maybe it sounds a bit cheesey, but I want to be able to take people on a journey with the songs - let them in on a daydream perhaps. For "In the Shadow of the Moon" on the CD, I was in the loft space we rehearse and record in and hung a microphone out of the window to record the sounds we hear up there - just to let people in on the lazy summer's day that led to the song. Then there's songs like "Sunday Strolls..." which harks back to a couple of trips we'd made to Scotland, "The New York" song in which Lindsay describes her journey to the city alongside my own account of the Big Apple in "Pictures". I suppose the songs are a bit of an escape, both for us and the listener.

Related to that, you've been putting up video blogs on Youtube documenting what you're up to. What led you to start doing that and is it something you'll continue to do as the band goes on? It's interesting for us to see what things you've been doing, whether it's how you put your CDs together or which part of the country you've been visiting, do you want your listeners to get a better idea and sense of what goes on in L.S.R. and break down the barrier between audience and performer?

Dave: This was actually Lindsay's idea, but I've kinda of taken it by the horns and got a little carried away. It's nice to be able to document what we've been doing both for us to look back over, but mainly to share the whole experience with anyone who takes an interest. Thanks to sites like MySpace, Youtube and Facebook, not only can we say "Hey, we're playing in Fife", but we can take people along with us in the video blogs and show them what we did. It's nice to put it all out there.

How do you approach playing live with all the different instruments that are featured on your songs, specifically for Dave playing guitar/ukelele and kick drum at the same time?! Your cover of NMH's "In An Aeroplane Over The Sea" is a particular highlight of your set and your version of it fits in beautifully with your own songs, what led you to start playing that song and will there ever be a recorded version of it?

Lindsay: LSR basically began as a recording project until we were asked by the Fence guys to go up and play live. Then we sat down and tried to figure out how to play all those layers of vocals and instruments with only two people, instead of with the army Dave created on the CD.

Dave: I think we'd both envisioned the need to bring in other musicians to help play all the parts on the songs but, as the two of us sat down and worked through the songs in became apparent that it might just work as a duo which I'm really pleased about. Lindsay's a great guitar and piano player and very used to singing while she plays, but it took a little while before I decided I was happy playing percussion, guitar/uke and in particular singing all at once. Linds works out some good harmonies for me to tackle though.

Lindsay: Playing live is an experience. Both of us have had to get used to playing new instruments but it is a lot of fun.

Dave: Regarding the "Aeroplane..." song; this was my idea - I just thought we might need an extra song to play in the set and this one sounded lovely on the uke. Lindsay came up with the idea to transpose it up a couple of keys so we're able to slip into it from "The New York Song" almost like it's one long piece. When I don't mess up the transition that is. It's easily one of my favourite songs - a couple of people have said that to me since too, so it looks like it was a good choice. I can't see that we'll end up recording it, but it's grand to play and hear Linds singing.

Finally, what are your hopes and plans for the future in L.S.R.? Are you looking for L.S.R. to play a bigger role in your musical outputs as people become more aware of you or will you continue to pursue your own solo ventures at the same time?

Lindsay: I hope we can keep playing for a long while and experimenting around with the music.

Dave: Yeah, it's been lot of fun and people seem interested so I'm keen to keep it going alongside our own projects. We've got more shows coming up over the next few months and new songs are always being written. A few members of the Fence Collective have done remixes of our songs and two by OnTheFly and Art Pedro came out on De-Fence at the end of November, which is really exciting. The lovely thing about Love.Stop.Repeat is it's all come from Lindsay and I just messing around with a little idea. Fingers crossed we'll get to do it a while longer.

And I think we'll be crossing our fingers for that to happen too. Love.Stop.Repeat were probably my favourite musical discovery of the year and I hope they become yours too. You can find out more at -

1 comment:

Dennis said...

You've made me curious with this interview. Which is always a good thing. Thanks! I'll have to go check them out.