Lanterns On The Lake

Lanterns On The Lake

interview by Daniel Moor

Hello Hazel, how are you? How do you feel about the upcoming release of your new album, Versions of Us?

I’m fine, thank you. It’s a funny feeling because we put quite a lot into this record, probably more so than previous ones. We always put absolutely everything into the music that we make, but this one was particularly difficult and a lot of heart and soul has got into it. And you feel a little bit powerless once it finished. Now, I feel I’m waiting to hear from interviews. So, yeah, it is a mixture of excitement and interest in what people think of it.


I already listened to it many times, and I really loved it. Congratulations! There is an evolution from the previous release, especially in the sound, but your style stayed intact. How did you approach the writing and recording of Versions of Us?

Pretty similarly to the last album and some of the previous stuffs, these songs all started with me coming up with the basic skeleton of the song either on guitar or piano and then taking that to the band. And we fleshed out that idea a little bit more and see how it developed as a band. It is really exciting for me to see the progress of the song. Recently, I was going through some of my previous voice notes, because when I’m writing I demo stuff on my phone so I ‘don’t forget it, and I came across stuffs from this album and from the last album and it was so amazing to hear the difference with the resulted songs.


Did the band experiment with new instruments on Versions of Us?

Uhhh, did we? Let me think… I guess we have never really been into synths in the past and we did this time incorporate synths on a couple of songs. But we still are quite traditional in how we write songs with base drums, guitar, piano. For us is more important to serve the songs and see what we can do with what we’ve got. Sometimes those parameters are smaller, with not a huge amount of different instruments to try or a lot of time or studio access; sometimes those things push you to be more creative to work with what you’ve got.


I don’t know if it correlates with your use of the synth, but I think that this album has a lot of pop potential. You always had a sort of talent for melodies, but this time they go in a direction that could make the songs appealing for a broader, mainstream audience.

Obviously, we are ambitious, but we weren’t thinking in that way. We always tried to make the best record that we could really and developed ourselves as songwriters and as a band. But a couple of people have said to me that it is more pop that our previous stuffs. But it is actually quite hard to write a pop song, a good one.


What did inspire you when writing these songs?

A lot of things really. Mostly I’m inspired by what is going on around me and in the world. Not so much that I would sit down and write a song about a particular thing, but I have noticed that the things that are in mind come out there anyway. I don’t really try to write songs that are political or too didactic. The priority for me is that the words that I’m singing sound good.


Could you tell us more about the first song on the record The Likes of Us? I liked the fact that it is not only your opening track, but also the first single released from Versions of Us. The line “I won’t let this spark die in me” is such a strong statement at the beginning of an album.

I became a mother before writing this album and that did have a shift in my mindset because I couldn’t really afford to sit and catastrophize about things anymore. I need hope in the world. I have to believe that things can get better and I could be better and that there are other possibilities and other ways for everybody to be. I suppose this sense of hope is in that line “I won’t let this spark die in me”. But I was also reflecting on the journey I’ve had in music and as an artist. Some people might think that is daft that I would continue to do it, but when I sat down to write these songs, I felt that it was important that I still pursued it.


What you just said relates to my next question. I was stunned by two lines of the song Last Transmission where you sing “And in the last gasp of this old world / you know I think I found the beauty and the good”. These lines reminded me of another wonderful and hopeful song of your, “Blue Screen Beams”. Are you always an optimist about the future?

Like a lot of people I swing between the two things. Sometimes I feel the future seems quite bleak especially when I think about climate change and that kind of things. But I think change is possible and there can be hope. That ties a lot with the album which is about imagining another way of being. But maybe things have to get way worse for us to be able to imagine other ways of living.


The song Before They Excavate on your previous album dealt with a similar topic. I felt that there you had an urgent and burning anger, which somehow matches the planet going in flames at the end of the song. Do you now feel different about the climate crisis and the global discourse around it?

Uhm, when I was writing that one it was a pessimistic day. That song is about living in the moment, you know, if all is going to shit anyway, then fuck it. Nowadays I’m feeling even more worried about climate change, but I feel that as an artist maybe I have to think about other possibilities. If everybody feels pessimistic and gives up, then there is no point anymore. So yeah, I think there has been a little mind shift, but not all the time. Some days I’m back to that pessimistic feeling. But I got a daughter now and that is a different type of stake in the world. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t care about the future for other people when I didn’t had a child but I guess that make more aware of your attitude.


How do you imagine the last transmission of our human society on earth would be like?

With that song I was thinking about somebody who left this planet looking down from out space. At the moment, I feel that there is a lot of conspiracy theories and that kind of things going on. There is a lot of confusion and a widening gap of inequality with the rich being so rich and the poor being so poor. I think that creates more confusion and more conspiracies because there is more room to go to extremes on either side. So right now, I think that the last transmission would be a lot of confusion. But then I think that amongst that are a lot of people, especially younger people, who are willingly to fight.


Could you tell us something about the cover artwork? I have this feeling that since there are infinite versions of us according to the multiverse theory, we are only able to see blurred faces of us. Does this idea correlate with the artwork?

Yeah, I think that was part of it. It was definitely a thought that I had when I saw it. I came across this Austrian artist Wolfgang Grinschgl probably on Instagram and I found his stuffs really striking. With the last album the artwork looked more digitalized, and I wanted this record to feel more human. Especially nowadays with AI generated artworks, I really wanted something that was made by human hand. I found this painting and along with what you’re saying I like that it looks like a human face but also it could look like a nebula in the universe. I really liked that and as I was saying the human aspect of it as well.


If it’s okay for you I would like to talk about your 2020 Ep for a couple of minutes. I really liked the atmosphere of the Realist Ep. The title-track is gorgeous. Could you tell us something more about it and why did you choose to not have it included in Spook the Herd?

I think I was quite keen for it to go on Spook, but in the end when we considered the full scope of that record it didn’t quite fit in to that world. Although I really loved the song, it just didn’t fit in with Spook universe. So we thought that we had a couple of songs like that (for example Romans) and we decided we would safe those for a separate Ep and we just waited to the right time to put it out.


Baddies was one of my favourites on the previous album and I was excited to hear a different version of it. But why did this song get its “Model City Version” instead of other equally good songs on the album?

I think because it was one which we could find a polar opposite way to do it. We were in lockdown at the time and we weren’t all in the same room working on stuff together. I think I came up with this other version of Baddies on piano and we worked it out. We also filmed ourselves recording it just for something to do in lockdown and to be able to have some music to share. It was one we could do really differently from the album version which was faster and had a lot of percussive elements.


In 2021 you wrote a theme-song for the BBC podcast Uncanny. Was writing a song for this purpose a different experience for you as a songwriter and musician?

It was, and I enjoyed that challenge. At first, I was I bit worried, because I have never written before lyrics for something bespoke like that. Each episode of the series is completely different: some of them are about poltergeists, others about UFOs and other things. I was trying to think of a way to tie everything together in one song that could just have one or two lines in the chorus that would sum things up. But once I got that idea to make it more about be haunted by the thought of something you have seen or haunted by your experience, I unlocked the door. And then that line “I know what I saw” just popped out and became the chorus. I sent it to Danny and Simon, the producers of the podcast, and they really loved it. It was funny because then when I listened to the first episode one of the people who were interviewed actually said “I know what I saw”. But it was just a complete coincidence that I used that line!


Great! Last question: how does the future of Lanterns on the Lake look like?

I don’t know… A lot of things went wrong with this album: we recorded a whole version of it and scratched that version, we ran out of budget, the drummer decided to leave, and it was really sad and difficult for us. There were times when I really thought that this will probably be the last album. But I think that every time we are making an album.


I hope not! I hope there will be more Lanterns on the Lake records in the future!

Yeah, you never know. I guess we’ll see how thing go with this one. We already started talking with Phil about making more music together. I guess we’ll just get trough this year and we’ll see how things go. It was always the music that pushed us to finish albums. Maybe a couple of songs will be written and then that will push us to be enthusiastic about it. And when you start making an album, you get into it and get obsessed with it. For us it’s always been like that: if you we have good songs which we want to share with world, then we feel obliged to make an album and make sure that people hear them.


Does Philip come on tour with you?

Yeah, is going to come on tour with us. We’ll play some festivals this summer and we are really looking forward to that!


Good luck! Are you planning to play on the continent too?

Yeah, but we will see if we can make it work. It’s quite expansive for bands to tour in Europe these days. It is really frustrating and sad for a lot of people…


Yeah, I know the struggle. I read a lot about it during the last couple of years. It is sad. Anyway, thank you very much for this interview. Congratulations again for your album! I wish you the best!

Thank you very much and thank you for taking the time to write about it as well!

The Starlight Ep/Misfortunes and Minor Victories/Lungs Quicken (Ep, 2008/2009/2010, self-released)
 Gracious Tide, Take Me Home (Bella Union, 2011)
 Until The Colours Run (Bella Union, 2013)
 Beings (Bella Union, 2015)
Spook The Herd (Bella Union, 2020)
 The Realist (Ep, Bella Union, 2020)
Versions Of Us (Bella Union, 2023)
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