Today’s Boom Track of the day is ‘Eggshell’ by Alev Lenz. The German/Turkish singer-songwriter has had a busy year so far, from collaborating with Anoushka Shankar to working with Simian Mobile Disco’s Jas Shaw on her fourthcoming album ‘Two-Headed Girl’.
GIGsoup are HUGE fans of Lenz’s distinct sound, it’s at once reminiscent of Tori Amos, and Joanna Newsom with the artistic leanings of Bjork and the beats of Lykke Li – but has an otherworldliness all of its own. ‘Eggshell‘ mixes her kilter rhythms with a blend of dark fairy-tale lyrics. It’s no wonder Alev Lenz has been lauded by everyone from Time Out London to Rolling Stone magazine.
Check her out for yourself when she tours the UK this spring (dates below).
The artist was happy to answer our questions about inspirations and collaborations. Read what she had to say about the creative process below…
You have a very distinct sound. Who would you say your main inspirations are?
Thanks! My inspirations are scattered across genres and even art forms and centuries. I am trying to let myself be guided as much as I can by immediate feelings and immediate responses. I have been digging more and more into working this way and started writing songs with even more courage of just jumping in a creating quickly whatever strikes that moment. It can be my own emotional reaction to something or a snapshot of a feeling that I saw in someone, it can be music that inspired me to pick up a thread of something that was already created and it can be the sensation art creates or even nature.
What was it like working with Jas Shaw of Simian Mobile Disco and how did that collaboration come about?
It was great. I looked forward to our mixing sessions every day. I like the mixing phase of an album already because it means my work is done and I love to sit for hours in the back of the room, listening, drawing and occasionally saying something about an effect or a frequency. I had a lot of fun working with Jas and we worked really well and quickly together. We let each other be. There was a lot of room for everyone’s thoughts. It is hard to come across people who are generous with their talent and advice without over looking or over hearing your subjective artistry; Jas is one of a rare kind.
It was all a chance meeting! I had some gear questions and we both worked in the same studio at the time when someone said, “ask Jas.” As I said, he is generous, also with his time, and we were chatting over tea many times and one day he listened to my music.
How representative would you say ‘Eggshell‘ is of your overall album, ‘Two Headed Girl‘?
I think no track is representative of the album! Ha! They’re all their own little universe. I think my albums are generally a little like a soundtrack to me. It’s all a certain mood but different scenes can have completely different sounds. I think it is representative in regards to the beat. I worked with Samuli Kosminen on the album and he is exactly the kind of drummer I have been looking for. He worked his magic with all my rhythm ideas and ‘Eggshell’ is the perfect melting of his and my rhythmical creation.
How did the recording process differ on ‘Two-Headed Girl‘ than on your debut?
Oh it was a lot different from my first album. I had my songs written and had played them all over open mike bars in New York, so they were pretty dead-set piano tunes. I rehearsed them with my band at the time and added a few little bass lines and drum ideas and wrote a few of the string sections. But once in the studio we got really amazing Berlin Jazz musicians in and started from the piano structure and added to it whatever sounded pleasing and organically grew in the studio, then some more string were written and it was done. Two-Headed Girl however I really wanted to write everything for it and not instrument it in that way. I wrote the songs and started building everything around them on the computer. Programmed the beats, picked all instruments I liked, drafted all harmonies etc. I liked the sounds I had picked for the beats and some we did end up keeping, but for the main part I knew they needed to be played. Jas was really helpful here, he obviously knows a thing or two about programming and beats and we agreed that, for my writing and for what kind of songwriter I am, these beats needed to be played by a person. But it really needed unusual and bad ass drumming; and that was Samuli part that he played better than I could have ever imagined!
What can we expect from Alev Lenz in the coming months?
Hopefully a couple of videos! I love visuals with my songs and I hope I can get more than one done! A few concerts too and I am even hoping new material … I do not want to leave a big gap again between my albums! It feels like being pregnant for years!I am hoping to play my collaborative song ‘Land Of Gold’ with Anoushka Shankar live too.
Alev Lenz tours the UK this spring, the dates are:
9th May – Servant Jazz Quarters, London supporting Tom Adams.
14th May – Union Chapel Daylight Music – Majestic Euro-Musical Showcase Special
4th June – Resonance FM
This Alev Lenz article was written by Jessica Otterwell, a GIGsoup contributor