The first time we heard Laurel Halo’s Quarantine, her debut LP on Hyperdub, we felt like we’d been lobotomized. Second time around, the very structure of our sensory receptors had changed. And on the third, we knew we had to bring her to Dublin.
The Michigan-born, NYC-based experimentalist first came to the fore with King Felix, a project erring towards pop and club music. Her Hour Logic EP was a different beast altogether, a glassy, dark ambient opus. Quarantine puts her vocals up front in a confrontational, aggressive, but melancholic record. What binds her far-reaching projects together is that she has formed her own personal world from which this music could only emerge. However, her creations can not only exist in the wide universe, but they challenge the very fibre of it.
Laurel Halo plays a very special show at Twisted Pepper on the 25th October, with visuals from Konx Om Pax, and support from School Tour as part of a Totally Dublin & Forward/Slash collaboration (which also features a plethora of other distractions). See the Facebook event for more details, or book tickets from here.
What’s up Laurel?
So I’ve been reading a lot of gothic fiction ahead of Halloween, and it struck me that there’s a correlation between the core of it and of your music – Quarantine channels this terror, but is at the same time pleasing to immerse yourself in. What’s the source of that element of horror in Quarantine?
I take inspiration from Sam Raimi. I think it’s less about horror/terror than it is about abject disgust – abject in the Julia Kristeva sense. It’s more psychological thriller than anything.
Evil Dead I or Evil Dead II?
More Drag Me To Hell, though both those movies are amazing.
What’s the last good horror film you watched?
Bay of Blood by Mario Bava. That was last fall though, I haven’t seen many horror films recently! I just saw The Master last night which was great.
Paul Thomas Anderson sometimes has an element of the gothic to him.
He’s great, I love how he addresses seductive personalities, and how they become their own religions, or religions are created around them
Would you like to be a cult leader?
Never! It’s a really sad thing to genuinely want to psychologically sabotage other people.
You mentioned Julia Kristeva – do you have a stance on feminism?
Not really. I consider myself more a humanist, with the sort of inherent animal ups and downs of that. Sexuality is a vital and dynamic system that has violence and oppression built in, but of course it’s shit when you get treated like a second class human being, so…
I guess my problem with feminists is that they remove men from the equation in a way, and further the whole problem of ‘other’ness. I’m not a theorist or a scholar though, so my opinions might be unfounded.
You produced and mixed Quarantine yourself, right? What producers, or maybe what strains of production style did you take influence from?
I’m influenced by Wolfgang Voigt/Gas, Echospace, Rhythm&Sound, any ambient music with a premium on dynamic texture. I love Biokinetics by Porter Ricks. I’m drawn to brutal driving-through-the-night techno too. I was trying to make an inverse of that, I guess. I’m a sucker for small details in music that throw you, like in The Master there was a part where Amy Adams’ eyes turned black, and then the scene cuts immediately.
That Porter Ricks record was so deserving of the re-release it got. I wouldn’t have come across it otherwise, I don’t think. It seems so simplistic, in terms of compostion, but the fractal details are what really make it.
Yeah, I first heard it last year, then found out a few months later it was getting re-released. Jon from Type Records was very kind to send me one.
The influence of that makes a lot of sense. I think that while Hour Logic warped and bent in really interesting ways, Quarantine seems like it’s not grounded in anything.
Yeah, Hour Logic was more a reflection of the instruments being used. You could instantly pick out the Wavestation or the 106. With Quarantine the instruments are a bit obfuscated, and there’s way more sampling too.
Subject of, I just heard your excellent Lianne La Havas remix, can you talk a little bit about what you look for in a sample or a song to remix?
A sample has some element you need, basically a good groove or lyric or some vital shape or texture. With the Lianne remix I only used a small part of her main vocal stem because it was the most beautiful sounding thing out of all the stems they sent. On a song like Joy [from Quarantine], I sampled my own vocals, from a shitty track I made in 2008, and some bowed guitar.
Would you like to work with a rapper?
I would love to I’ve been talking a bit with a few of them, but I should leave names out cause nothing’s been set .
I’m gonna just presume it’s Lil B.
Definitely not the based dog. He has to learn to love pussy better before I’d work with him. I like that hip-hop production, while entrenched in mainstream commercial trends seems less concerned with them than, say, in the underground dance community.