Loquat Talks "We Could Be Arsonists"
Tue, 29 May 2012 08:15:33
"Making We Could Be Arsonists was a long process and sometimes painful," reveals Loquat singer Kylee Swenson Gordon. "After such a long period of banging my head against a wall, I would hope that it's worth it."
The resulting album is more than just worth it. It's simultaneously haunting and hypnotic infused with a dark vulnerability straight from Kylee's heart. We Could Be Arsonists will burn its place in your mind and stay there for a long time to come.
In this exclusive interview, Loquat singer Kylee Swenson Gordon delves deep into We Could Be Arsonists, talks movies, and so much more.
What's your take on We Could Be Arsonists?
The reason why it took so long is we came back from a little tour after we released Secrets of the Sea. I started writing songs. I was writing a song called "The Legion". I showed our former band mates that song, and I was rallying to try to get us up and running and writing new songs. I had this image in my head of being in a fortress but all of your weaponry is made out of cardboard. It's like fighting this unknown force. The band temporarily imploded. Ryan[Manley] left the band. We got Coop. Six months later Earl [Otsuka] left. Six months after Chris left. It was really hard, but at the same time we had this totally new validation because Coop came on board and he was like, "I totally get it. I'm with you guys". Chip came on and he was the same way. They all came from different places. Coop grew up in Oakland. Chip moved from Richmond, VA. Jon had moved from Baltimore. They all had no context of Loquat was. When they joined the band, it revived everything. I had 15 demos with Earl and Ryan. It was a brand new day though, so we wrote about 40 songs to get down to the 10 on the album. Writing so much, it was easier to synthesize down to something that all works together. That may be why there's some symmetry with the album.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
That's my background. I went to school for creative writing. Music and creative writing have been my two big passions. The fact I was able to put them together was a bonus. Lyrics are important to me in one regard because they're therapeutic. I can get all of my neuroses out in song form, and it has a way of making me feel normal again. I love telling a story. Sometimes, it's not real. Sometimes, it's very real. Sometimes, it's very personal. I'm sort of cryptic with my lyrics at the same time.
What's the story behind "Up Late"?
I have encountered some insomnia in my last few years, and I know a lot of people struggle with that. I started writing this song about struggling with that. Chip started writing the music to it. We got to this point where I felt like the music and lyrics were saying two different things. The music was really happy. It was a very "rock" song. I got a bit disconnected with it. It wasn't exactly meshing for me. Our producer Jim Greer basically did a remix of the song. He sent it to his friend Ben Ellman who is in Galactic and is also a producer. He added more to it and played saxophone on it. Then, it made sense. It was backing me up. It was a late night song suddenly.
Where were you coming from lyrically?
I met Anthony [Gordon] after I already started the band with Earl. We were dating. He said he didn't want to join the band even though we needed a bass player. I agreed. By default, he was like, "I'll help you get the rest of the band together". We couldn't find another bassist, so he ended up in the band anyway. Anthony and I ended up getting married. He's my band mate, but he's also the dude who drives me crazy [Laughs]. He definitely figures into different parts of the story here and there. It was a period of time when he was going out. I seem to have trouble sleeping. If he's out of town, I have no trouble sleeping. However, if he's here and he's out at a bar, for some reason I have trouble sleeping. I'm staring at the ceiling going, "What the fuck?" We had a baby and that changed things quite a bit. We go out together a lot more. We find a sitter. We take our son to his grandma's house, and we go out together so I'm not staring at the ceiling anymore.
How much does being a mom affect what you write? Were you pregnant during the making of the album?
Yeah, I was. We'd written a sizable chunk of the album before. Then, I wrote "Monsters" and "Seeds" after I got pregnant. Obviously, that was what was on my mind. For "Monsters", I sat in my living room looking out the window and thinking about how I was going to have to offer Braxton advice as he got older and what I would say to him. I tend to make mountains out of molehills. Sometimes, our imaginations can go far bigger than the actual truth of the matter. This can happen with a lot of people. There's a situation, and our imagination turns it into something much bigger. I wanted to tell Braxton, "The monsters of your own creation can't really hurt you because you made them up in your own mind." I thought of how kids are afraid of monsters under the bed. I guess I'm getting ahead of myself and preparing for how I'm going to deal with those situations.
Around Christmas, there's always a marathon of James Bond movies that I end up watching. I wrote "Rumbling" as this imaginary 1960s European train terrorist hijacking. I imagined the whole thing in my mind. It was pouring rain and dark and dramatic just like a movie in my own head.
What would be the cinematic equivalent of We Could Be Arsonists?
It's probably an action movie because there's a lot of crazy stuff happening. There's arson happening. Things are being lit on fire, crazy boat rides, and trains. There's fighting and a lot of insane things. I want to think of an old '60s Bond movie with Sean Connery. Maybe it's like Minority Report? It's a little sci-fi and James Bond—a combination of those things. What would you say?
Maybe Blade Runner?
I like that. We could go with Blade Runner.
Have you heard Loquat yet?