Story of Luc have been making stellar, sophisticated pop music since 2017. Their songs are both melancholic and radio-friendly; they demand listener attention, but also wouldn’t seem out of place on the dance floor.
The project’s latest release—the EP Born in the Light—is its darkest, most meticulous outing yet, and sees the band eschew the more traditional instrumentation of their past releases in favor of dense vocal harmony-centric arrangements. We caught up with Story of Luc to discuss Born in the Light, their deliberate stage show, and more.
Repost: Your sound is characterized by these really lush layers of vocal harmony. The melodies are accessible, but the arrangements give the songs a pretty melancholy flavor. How would you characterize your sound?
Story of Luc: Our goal is often to start songs in a way that get you to slow down, and to get you to listen closely and breathe deeply to consider what you’re about to hear. That often means a more melancholy vibe even when the lyrics are uplifting. We’ve always had a thing for songs that sound sad and it’s interesting when a song is sad but doesn’t make you feel sad. It brings up a question like, “This song is sad but doesn’t make me feel sad. What does that mean about me as the listener?” Anytime a song can get you to consider something about yourself, we consider it a success.
R: In a lot of ways, complex vocal harmony in the context of pop music seems like sort of a lost art, but it can elevate pop songs in a special way, if only to underscore the strength of the melody. Why do you think a lot of popular artists shy away from crafting complex vocal harmonies? Is it just too much work?
SoL: There are still many big musicians that are utilizing intricate harmonies and experimentation (Bon Iver, Kanye West, Childish Gambino), but since music technology is easily accessible and affordable, there is more music made by artists with little training in theory. From our point of view, it’s a balance between making a digestible melody and an interesting harmony. It’s a fine line between unique and unfamiliar.
R: I know there’s a pretty strong visual component to your live performances. Can you talk a little bit about that?
SoL: We went back and forth a lot talking about how to make our live shows unique and recently were able to debut a setup that we’re really proud of. We built a custom touch-activated midi controller and light box that lights up from the inside when touched but also triggers a different note depending on which side of the cube you touch. Along with that we also play live guitar and bass, and perform our vocals live. The goal is to take the electronic elements in our songs and make them something interesting to watch rather than just us turning knobs and pressing buttons on stage.
R: More and more artists who are attempting to break into the pop market are prioritizing releasing singles and EPs over LPs, and it seems like more artists are waking up to the fact that LP campaigns can be really exhausting. (For artists and listeners alike.) What are your thoughts on this? Do you think there’s been a pivot back towards singles and shorter releases in the industry, and if so, why do you think that is?
SoL: The sheer amount of music (and content in general) that is being generated these days makes things move really fast. If you dump a 12-track album on your fans, it’s easy for some of the songs to get overlooked. I think artists have adapted by leading up to their longer form releases with a campaign of singles that will be on the album. Ultimately you can do shorter or longer releases as long as you spread the content out to fit people’s attention span. I don’t think it’s a bad or good thing but just the nature of the times.
R: Though writing songs can be intrinsically gratifying, the process of recording music and being an active part of the industry is often a slog. How do you keep the process fun?
SoL: The goal is to be totally focused on the process and getting better as a songwriter and producer. It’s a craft and even though sometimes there are discouraging aspects of “the industry,” there’s always the next song to focus on. As soon as you’re invested in that process it’s easy to forget the rest.
Born in the Night was released on November 22nd, 2019. It is available to stream everywhere.
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