Leaving you in a state of hypnosis is Sydney’s soulful electronic-pop duo Left., who not only creates this other dimension to enslave you, but also offer guidance in finding your escape from it – danger is pervasive behind deceptively amicable guises.
With the release of the third single from Lefts.’s debut LP, Lay With Me continues to showcase the harmony they have mastered between the shadiness of fear and the peace in clarity, only found in their dreamy soundscapes of night and outer space. The depth and gentle huskiness in Sarah’s soothingly smoky vocals, allows her to level with Jono’s effervescent and beautifully intricate production – this 14 track album of an intrepid escapade is highly anticipated.
Ahead of their album tour in Feb, Sydney’s electronic duo Left. have released their third single, Lay With Me – another fearless and mesmerising track.
We first introduced Left. to Happy’s audience with the track Freedom, which featured as Vid O’The Week. Combining Sarah Corry (known for her work with Horrorshow as a guest vocalist on their 2014 King Amongst Many album, and for her vocals on all three of Spit Syndicate‘s albums), Jono Graham (guitarist of the indie rock band, Made in Japan), hip hop producer, Adit Gauchan (Horrorshow), and engineer/producer Mitch Kenny (Daniel Johns,Drapht, Marvin Priest), has brought out the best in this exciting duo, who compliment each other so well with their manufactured and organic sound.
Inspired by Sarah’s obsession with sleep and nocturnal elements, Sirens explores the idea of a mythical siren; a dangerously alluring entity that will lead you to your demise – Sarah’s version of a siren is her yearning for sleep. Lay With Me maintains this ‘siren’ motif as it starts off with a wonky guitar pulsation (strangely but fittingly reminds me of the Chinese violin, the Erhu, with its haunting sound of agony and beauty), foreshadowing a rather uncomfortable dilemma ahead.
This song might just be the track to sonically break free from that crippling entity, however thematically, things are much more complex. Lay With Me concerns the idea of being forced into an arranged marriage despite being in love with someone else. According to Sarah: “I was inspired by how I imagined that circumstances might feel; the desperation, helplessness, and desire to make yourself happy against all the odds”. The constant push and pull generated by the changing tempos perfectly expresses the song’s narrative. This track is much more textured and dramatic than previous releases, which allows it to match the rapids of emotion.
HAPPY: In an alternative universe, if everything you achieved musically didn’t happen, what career or job would you be doing?
SARAH: We actually have been working away at careers as well as Left. ! I am in PR and Jono is a teacher – we have flexible schedules though which means we can give time to making music.
JONO: When I’m not playing music and writing, I’m teaching Kindergarten to Year 6 casually around Sydney. I love it, and it’s a big part of my life outside of music. It also allows me to incorporate music into my work too so it’s pretty fun. If not that, I used to play a lot of soccer as a kid and went to Holland and Italy to trial with some teams. Obviously I wasn’t good enough haha.
HAPPY: What was the process like producing your debut LP?
JONO: I had a bunch of ideas I developed in my bedroom about 2 years ago. These were mostly done on guitar and a few samples, and some were fully fleshed out structures or just loops. I gave them to Sarah as I had no idea where it would go. She seemed to get the vibe – in about 2 months we had about 10 ideas. The latter stages involved getting together with Adit who replaced and developed drums sounds, trying different synths and pads in his studio. This changed the dynamic a lot as originally we were going for live drums for some tracks that you will hear on the LP. We also did some tracking in Linear Studios, but it was mostly a big DIY job between the 3 of us. Finally, our best friend, Mitch Kenny, mixed the record at 301. I’m really proud of it as it’s a proper body of work and every song contributes to the overall contour of the record.
SARAH: Making Sirens was a really great experience. It was my first attempt at the process, but Jono has been through it several times. We wrote it pretty quickly, with the exception of a few songs e.g. When My Body Sleeps was written in about a day, a couple of weeks before we started mixing. I think it took about a year to bring together, from getting together as a band and the first stirrings of ideas. Mitch Kenny – who is an absolute boss aside from also being brilliant – mixed the album. Adit was across the entire process and continues to be. Aside from technical involvement, we have a crew of friends that were listening in and contributing to the album as it came together; Bree Tranter, James Cooney and many others! We have a big group of musician friends so we’re constantly playing our music to each other and saying “you’re hectic”.
HAPPY: Sarah, what is your ‘obsession’ with sleep and nocturnal elements? I love sleep too, but I’m interested to hear why you are ‘obsessed’ with it and how it influences Left.’s music?
SARAH: When I was younger I would average about 3-4 hours a night of sleep – I was a pretty anxious kid my mum says! It was only when I got older that I started to experience the joys of sleeping and honestly there isn’t a better feeling in my life than the minutes before I fall asleep. I wasn’t fully conscious of my lyrical fixation until about half way through writing the album and I was all ‘hold on a minute…’ – but it makes sense. I love the moon, and I am also really pale so it make sense to favour night over day! I think the dream state is something I find a lot of comfort in and take inspiration from – the real and unreal. I also feel like we’re all too busy for our own good, so craving sleep is an integral part of life.
HAPPY: What artists are you really digging at the moment? What artists make you feel euphoric/relaxed- just like what you try to achieve with your music?
SARAH: Robert Glasper and SZA are both very relaxing listens. FKA Twigs I am deep into and excited to see her here in Feb, as well as the Les Sins album. Chance The Rapper is really cool too. Hiatus Kaiyote have also got to be one of the best bands in Australia right now – Nai Palm is a force.
JONO: I have just gone through a big Neo Soul phase; D’ Angelo, Robert Glasper, Erykah Badu, that sort of thing. But right now, Hiatus Kaiyote. They are paving the way in what sounds ‘now’ and harmonically interesting. They are also so tight, it’s crazy watching them live. Also Les Sins (Toro y Moi), Bonobo, Little Dragon and Rich Gang!
HAPPY: What was the song writing process like for this LP? Sarah, did you ever find yourself awakening from your sleep and having a desire to capture particular lyrics or sounds inspired from your unconscious state, or was it a completely conscious process?
SARAH: Honestly, I never remember my dreams! It is a totally conscious process; I always consider my lyrical content before I get down to melody because if I don’t have something to say or a story I want to tell, the song is irrelevant and basically a bunch of bullshit!
HAPPY: Any particular reason why Lay Me Down is the third release, after When My Body Sleeps and Freedom? Is the order of release motivated by which ones you like better, or are you trying to construct a particular story?
SARAH: I guess we are presenting them in the order of our preference, it’s not a conscious story telling concept, but we are slowly unfolding who we are to people. Lay With Me is one of our favourites for sure, so we’re excited to be putting this out just before the album.
HAPPY: Sarah, you say Lay With Me was inspired by what you imagined it would be like to be in an arranged marriage. Can you recall what inspired this song in the first place? Was it something personal, something global, or through conversations with peers?
SARAH: This is going to sound really nerdy but it’s about Game of Thrones; Khaleesi and Khal Drogo arranged marriage – morphed with the story of Tuptim from the King and I. Ha. Basically it’s a story of being forced to marry someone despite loving another – there’s a lot of desperation in it. You can’t choose your influences I guess!
HAPPY: In an interview with AU review, Jono, you spoke about having the intent to try something different and new with Left.. Could you elaborate on what makes Left. unique and what people can expect from these up and coming live shows?
JONO: A lot of people ask us what genre we are. Personally I don’t know, and that’s refreshing to me. Left. in part is an appropriation; it blurs the lines between genres and creates something new. In terms of playing live, it’s really important in both sides of music – recording and performing – to hold onto a form of consistency. You can get carried away in the studio with over producing. By all means that’s a big part of Electronic music. The problem is when it comes to reproducing it live, what can be done and what is relevant to the performance? I want people to watch us and think “I didn’t know it was that instrument.” The intent is to blur the lines between electronic and acoustic. It’s also about performing those sounds live. We are all capable musicians and personally I would prefer not to run most of my set off a laptop.
HAPPY: What is the best thing about live performance? What is something you aren’t a fan of in live performance?
SARAH: Best: the songs coming to life and playing with my friends. Not a fan: timing your meals so you’re not sick during the show (this is serious).
JONO: When I look around and all three of us (we have a drummer) are in flow. The music is hypnotic and repetitive, so when I see Dane doing these crazy patterns on the SPD and Sarah totally engrossed in a song, you know we have all locked in together. I’m not a fan of running backing tracks live but unfortunately I only have 2 hands haha.
HAPPY: What is your level of commitment like in terms of preparation and practicing for a live show? Any pre-show rituals?
SARAH: We rehearse quite a bit. Jono is also just a fucking wunderkind who plays everything and knows everything. My rituals include really drawn out breathing exercises that involve a lot of hissing.
JONO: Always warm up. It is actually really important. And write a set haha.
HAPPY: Many artists have real life experiences that influence the stories they tell in their music – whether it was a life changing experience with health or family. Sarah, do you think the experience of losing your voice to vocal nodes will influence your next sound? The silence in suffering perhaps?
SARAH: Absolutely. I’ve had ‘A little less conversation’ (Elvis) in my head throughout this whole experience of 3 weeks silence – I’m feeling pretty optimistic about my situation, but I have also learnt that the reflex to respond to inane conversation is incredibly strong in us and for my own good I need to work on that. I am dying to sing again (I’ll be speaking again Monday 12th), and have quite a bit of material built up! It’s going to be something I will have to deal with forever, so it’ll be a part of Left. too.
HAPPY: What is the most rewarding thing for you as musicians?
SARAH: Just singing really, having that outlet to do something I feel is meaningful.
JONO: Obviously it’s a form of personal expression, making music. But I also love the sharing aspect of it. I send all of my ideas to Adit, Sarah, Jimmy (Spit Syndicate) and they do vice versa. Hearing things in their barest form and witnessing the development of the creative process, whether it’s collaboratively or individually is like watching a flower blossom. It’s a long process. People can forget how much effort goes into any art form and only get the final product.
HAPPY: What makes you Happy?
SARAH: To quote Joyride: “Sunshine and cafe meals, a little bit of alone time and keeping it real”.
JONO: Besides music? Without sounding creepy, hanging out with kids. I work in childcare and I’m a teacher. So witnessing them learn and have fun is possibly the most rewarding feeling in the world. It also keeps me a kid, and that was the funnest part of life, right?
With confirmed support from Adkob for their Sydney show, the announcement of supports for Brisbane and Melbourne is anticipated. Sirens is out 6th Feb via Create Control or you can pre-order their album now here!
Thursday 12th February – Laundry, Melbourne – Free show