Emerging Artists: Lord Huron
Dead As Digital: Why don’t we start by you introducing yourself, and giving a random fact about yourself?
Ben: Ben S., Once had an eye-patch.
Dead As Digital: You have a background in art direction, can you tell us a little about that?
Ben: I studied painting, and have been working in the visual arts for the past several years. I’ve done a few shows around town but nothing I could support myself with. I worked as an art director to pay the rent and utilize some of my skills. It wasn’t always the most fulfilling creatively, but it was extremely challenging. Trying to be creative under someone else’s rules is great exercise.
Dead As Digital: What influence, if any, does this background have on your songwriting and the way you go about making music?
Ben: My background in visual arts certainly comes into play with my music. I often begin a song with an image in mind that I’d like to evoke. It’s just easier for me to think of things in that way. Often the image will change or distort as I work on the music. A strange sort of refraction occurs and hopefully I end up with a more compelling image than I began with.
Dead As Digital: When and how did Lord Huron begin?
Ben: I went to Michigan and spent a week on Lake Huron. I brought along some instruments and recording gear and spent the week enjoying the weather and scenery and recording the songs on Into The Sun.
Dead As Digital: The recordings on Into The Sun and Mighty sound very lush and have a great atmosphere to them. Tell me about the recording process. Did you self record, or did you go the traditional studio route?
Ben: I’ve recorded all the songs thus far myself. I like working that way because it allows me to get lost in it and shape things a bit more than I might be able to in a traditional studio. I do a good deal of experimentation before I find the right sounds and arrangements. I like to write as I record which might be a little cost prohibitive in a traditional studio. That being said, I’ve got a fantastic band now, and I’d really like to get those guys playing on the recordings. They’re all incredibly talented. Financial issues aside, I’m also very interested to see what the right producer might do for the sound.
When Will I See You Again by Lord Huron - From The Mighty E.P.
Dead As Digital: I noticed the arrangement on “When Will I See You Again” contains elements of what could, for lack of a less trite term, be called “world music”, yet there’s something about the core of the song, the vocal and the acoustic guitar, that feels distinctly American. How important is a sense of setting in your music? Do you think that where you are factors into what you make?
Ben: I’m a great admirer of music from all over the world. “World music” has such ridiculous connotations. People picture rainsticks and didgeridoos and robes. One day you wake up and you realize you’re that guy. The guy that likes world music. I don’t try to fight it and I clearly let it influence my songwriting quite a bit. But in the end I am an American. I understand American music, and to me, it is the greatest music ever made. American traditions of storytelling are at the core of the songs. The “world” elements are spice in the beef stew.
The Problem With Your Daughter by Lord Huron - From The Into The Sun E.P.
Dead As Digital: Your music has garnered quite a bit of positive press in the short time since you released Into The Sun in mid June. Do you feel any pressure moving forward? (Or is it exciting, knowing there’s a growing audience for your future work?)
Ben: I feel incredibly happy that people have liked what I’ve done so far, and hopefully that will continue, but I’m comfortable with the fact that it may not. I feel like with the Mighty EP, the sound has already begun to transform, and that transformation will only intensify. All I can do is continue making the music I want to make.
Dead As Digital: Recently, you put together a full band for your live performances. Are they contributing to your upcoming recordings? If so, what kind of impact do you see that having on your sound?
Ben: I got incredibly lucky with the band. One of my oldest friends, Mark (percussion, vocals), came out from Nashville to join me and he helped me put together a great group. They’re all blazing players and, amazingly, they’re all from Michigan. Plus they’re incredibly good guys. I knew a couple of them a little from around the music scene back in Michigan, but we’ve all become real tight buds. I feel very fortunate. Couldn’t have done it without Mark. I definitely want to have them all play on the record, whether it’s in a studio or not. Mark and I will definitely be collaborating on some things coming up.
Dead As Digital: We’re at a time, technology-wise, where recorded music can really find an audience and travel much more quickly than a group of musicians in a van. What do you think is the importance of the live show today? Do you think it’s more relevant or less so?
Ben: I think live shows are incredibly important, but there seems to be less attention on them these days. A lot of bands get away with basically playing their record at shows. This can work when it’s a conceptual decision but usually just feels a bit lazy and unfair to the audience. I’m a firm believer in the power of live music. Just listen to those old Cook recordings of Carnival Tents in Trinidad. You can hear people laughing, singing along, wailing, and just having an incredible experience. The musicians flub their parts and the singers forget the words but it’s goddamn exciting. Those kinds of gatherings are ancient, sacred, essential. Unfortunately, shows are rarely like that. They’re often these weird, self-conscious gatherings where people don’t seem to be enjoying themselves much at all. I think that’s partly the fault of the bands and partly the fault of the audience. It’s a bit lame sounding, but people need to give themselves over. The band needs to give themselves to the audience and the audience needs to give themselves back.
Dead As Digital: There’s been a lot of talk about this being the end of the “album era.” As someone who’s been having success recently with the EP format, does this ring true for you? Do you think of a catalogue of albums as an integral part of a band’s career?
Ben: I think it all depends on the experience you’re trying to give the listener. I think of these first two releases as brief evocative glimpses. They go together, but the small amount of time between them, the grouping and the artwork changes their meaning. The internet allows for some interesting possibilities in terms of story telling. Releasing a song here and there can be a very interesting way to weave a narrative. However, the prospect of having a longer format to work with is very appealing to me. The experience of listening to a well-crafted album is unique and amazing and will hopefully never go away. The only question is whether people will actually listen to it that way. Either way, I see the story of Lord Huron unfolding over time.
Dead As Digital: What are your favorite albums/artists you’ve been listening to recently?
Ben: I’m a bit out of the loop in terms of new stuff. I was very impressed by Braids at CMJ. And the Superhumanoids are always great. Wonderful people, too. I’ve been listening to the MRC tape series for months now. So much good stuff.
At this exact moment I’m listening to Santo and Johnny.
Dead As Digital: What’s coming up for the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 for Lord Huron?
Ben: We’re going to play a lot here in the west, take a break for the holidays and go on tour early next year.
Lord Huron has three upcoming shows in the L.A. Area
Hotel Cafe (w/ Boyz Skule)- November 4th - 11:00PM (Tonight!)
Origami Vinyl - November 17th - 6:00PM
Echoplex (w/ Avi Buffalo)- November 19th - 9:00PM
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