Sometimes we hear music that affects us for reasons unknown. Somewhere within us, an either lonely or rejoiceful part of ourselves calls out for a soundtrack. Whether Lewis & Clarke‘s leading man Lou Rogai is one of us, or one of those delivering what we long for, it’s not entirely clear. With lyrics that pluck at the heartstrings, and guitar that can be most simply put as solemnly subtle, there’s a sense of heaviness that seems to be barely escaping itself. If you’re feeling sad, I wouldn’t recommend listening for entirely too long, although that sense of musical masochism is, I guess, exactly what I’m talking about here. These are songs that embrace their own hopeful anguish, and satisfy our need to feel.
Maybe I’m gushing a bit here, but writing while listening to these tracks made me honest. But past the seemingly woeful songs, there’s cheerful inspiration. We got the chance to ask Lou about his label (supported by a “family” of musicians), the Appalachian Trail, Chelsea Hotel #2, and how there’s just nothing better than good bread. Check it out after the jump…
And, if you’re lucky, you can catch Lewis & Clarke TONIGHT @ Bowery or Saturday @ Music Hall, opening for Bat For Lashes.
Also, be sure to take a look at La Soci√©t√© Exp√©ditionnaire, for more wonderful artists and feel free to support & buy the limited release of Light Time, the vinyl EP, directly from the source.
Tell me about how Lewis & Clarke came to be. There’s a common misconception that you’re referring to the explorers, when actually it’s a reference to your favorite writers, correct?
Right, C.S. Lewis and Arthur C. Clarke. But Clarke isn’t my favorite, it’s more Lewis I am a fan of. But it’s more about the fellowship and correspondence between them and Tolkien as well, as a unit of thinkers, exchanging ideas as contemporaries and blowing hot air about the future.
It’s been about 2 years since your highly acclaimed full length Blasts of Holy Birth, why did you decide to follow up with a four song 12 inch EP?
It was not necessarily a decision, it just seemed to make sense with what I was working with. Light Time is now. For me, the music fits the time and theme. When the right songs begin to magnetize, they grow together. They reveal how they should be held together in album form. The two songs on side A, Petrified Forest and Light Time, could have been included on a full length, but they are of their own theme. Plus I was getting super bored of not having a record out.
Keeping with your roots, Light Time touches on loss, remembrance, sorrow, & hope with intricate subtlety. What influences your sound? The Appalachian Trail, perhaps?
Moss, fauna on the trail, intricacies between relationships, people, natural, technology, circuitry…it’s the golden mean, the wheel of fifths. I can say the vinyl is colored pink and white, like the magnolia blossoms outside my window every April. I had a weird year, but it’s better now. The trail is always there.
Do you have your own personal recipe for songwriting? As in, is there a certain place you have to be, mentally or physically? What are some necessary ingredients in order for you to create?
I am usually pretty bad at following recipes, I kind of wing it with what ingredients are around. Lack of sleep, too much sleep, and not enough time seems to work well. I like to make things to relax and wind down and enter an interior world when there’s a lot going on in the mix. My son inspires me. My amazing friends inspire me.
Light Time Vinyl EP
Your label, La Soci√©t√© Exp√©ditionnaire, currently has just under a dozen artists. How do you find the acts you’d like to work with?
It’s all my friends and family. It’s very closely intertwined. Everyone is super close. Sometimes too close, even. But always close enough.
I won’t ask you who your favorite is, as that’s like picking between children, but who are you currently listening to more often?
The latest iDeath mixes. All of it though, I am seriously in love with all of the music we release.
Outside of your “artist-based label cooperative”, who are some musicians you’re loving right now?
David Axelrod. Toumani Diabate. The new Bat For Lashes album is amazing. Bears and Danger, too.
Tell me about your relationship with Man Man’s Russell Higbee. Can we expect more collaboration in the future?
I love Russell. He’s in orbit right now and creating amazing things. He’s always in and out, and when we get to work on things and hang out it’s a treat. There’s always more in store. We are going to release his project as well, which is called iDeath. He’s picking up where Moondog left off.
As a fellow (dare I say) fanatic of Leonard Cohen, what drew you to cover Chelsea Hotel #2 for the new EP?
Yes, so much inspiration from this man. I just really like the story of that tune, you know, the whole reason behind it. Cohen apologized for naming names, and out of respect I won’t. But it’s nothing we already don’t know about. For me it’s something relative, and it’s really therapeutic, the lines “I need you, I don’t need you” and think, “yea, that sounds about right to me”. I just really like that song. I don’t care if Rufus did it so amazingly, I wanted to feel that magic too…and respect the folklore.
So, when can we expect more from Lewis & Clarke?
We’ll be touring the US on the EP and another special project this summer with Caroline Weeks, Corridor, and Rio en Medio, and finishing another full length. But let’s not tempt the fates with expectations, just enjoy it when it happens!
And last but not least, if you were to be reincarnated– what would you like to be?
A nice loaf of bread.