Conceptual Art and Homemade Samples: A Conversation with Lorana

Lorana © Arthur Coppens
Lorana delves into the creative process behind her debut EP, Here In Between, and what the future holds for her music.

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A conceptual piece of work with the underlying theme of duality, Lorana’s Here In Between EP wraps up the first chapter in the artist’s career. “Here In Between”, the track from which the EP gets its title, is the final single from the body of work, and it explores the concept of duality by focusing on the balance between becoming an adult and leaving childhood behind.

Here in Between EP - Lorana

Here in Between EP – Lorana

“Do you know that feeling of knowing where you’re headed and knowing where you come from, but every now and then getting lost ‘in between’? That’s what the song’s about. Being in my early twenties, I still feel like a kid sometimes, but because of my age the world treats me as an adult. It’s a strange transition to experience, but luckily, I’m not alone in that! I wrote this one as an anthem for my peers, so that we can feel lost together”, Lorana explains about the single.

If there is something that characterises Lorana’s releases, it’s their consistency and cohesiveness. Following the same method present in her previous singles, the whole EP is garnished with the artist’s homemade samples, which she uses to pull the listener a little bit closer to her world, as well as to enhance the narrative of each song.

A phase that started with the release of Lorana’s self-produced debut single, “Am I?”, culminates now with the release of the Here In Between EP, which she also produced herself in her small studio flat.

In the lead up to the EP launch, Atwood Magazine had the pleasure of speaking to Lorana about her creative process, her aims when unveiling this body of work, and what the next chapter looks like.

Listen: Here in Between – Lorana



A CONVERSATION WITH LORANA

Here in Between EP - Lorana

Atwood Magazine: First thing’s first - congrats on the success of your previous releases leading up to the EP! Your EP release is getting very close, how does it feel to put out a body of work like that into the world?

Lorana: Thank you! I’m just, I’m feeling super excited to be honest. This work has been ready for almost a year now and it’s just, I don’t know why, but I still love it. It’s still like I wrote the songs yesterday, and like I produced them just very freshly, and I’ve never had that with a body of work before. I guess that’s why I’m like, very proud to finally release this so, yeah, I’m just mainly very excited.

Well, that’s very interesting, because you often hear musicians saying that they wrote something, they thought it was great, but then, as time goes by, they kind of get tired of it.

Lorana: Yeah, and I usually have that as well! But somehow, with these tracks, they just stick to me.

 

Well that’s good, very good! The EP has the underlying theme of duality. Is this something you did deliberately when creating it, or did the singles just happen to all tie into that theme?

Lorana: That’s a good question, it was definitely deliberate, just mainly because I really love conceptual art, so creating a piece of work like that was, for me, something that I was aiming for before I started doing it. After Arthur, [my boyfriend], and I moved countries I just kept facing the feeling of being in between, but in so many different aspects of my life, even in my music. And then eventually I decided, ‘let’s just write something, a whole body of work, about that feeling’, basically to deal with it. So yeah, that’s how I started.

That’s great! If you were to do another EP, which I’m sure you will at some point, would you do the same thing and have an underlying theme?

Lorana: Yes! I actually started on a new one, because this has been ready for a while and I’ve been writing, and writing, and writing… And I think a month or two ago I was like, ‘okay, I need a new concept’. I think last week, for the first time, I really put my finger on it, and I was like ‘this is what the next EP is going to be about’. So now I’m in the middle of writing that one, but it is already, again, like a concept. I really need that! I love working towards something.

What is it? What’s the new concept? Can you say or not yet?

Lorana: I don’t know if I wanna say it yet, because maybe I end up not liking it and I’ll change it, and then it won’t be right anymore (laughs).

Lorana © Arthur Coppens

Lorana © Arthur Coppens



Okay, fair enough! You have self-produced the EP, meaning you’ve been in control of the whole creative process. What does that process look like, the journey from the initial idea to the finished piece?

Lorana: I love that question as well, because creative process is something so personal, I find it so inspiring to read interviews by other artists and see how they do it. For me, mainly, as I just said, starts with an overarching theme. In this case, it was ‘being in between’. It is mainly something that just keeps coming back to me as life is happening and then, once I put my finger on it, I think about how to develop it. I then write the songs, I always write them just vocals and piano, so very acoustically, and I also always start with lyrics first. So write the lyrics, or at least a rough concept of the lyrics, and then the melody and the chords basically follow simultaneously after that. Then, actually, I put them aside for a little while, because I find it very interesting to see if you let a song rest, even if it’s just for a day, even sometimes for a week or two weeks… If you then come back to it, you see the song completely in a different light. I find that a very interesting process, to figure out if I really like the song or not. And then if I do like it, I re-draft it and the production always is the last phase. But I actually really love that part as well because that’s, for me, when the song really comes to life. I think it’s very interesting how the emotions of the lyrics can also be expressed in the sounds, how you can use the sounds to emphasize the meaning of the words even more. Then after I did that, I sit with them for a little longer, and change some things here and there, and then there just comes a point where I’m like ‘I don’t know if I should add anything else anymore’. It just feels ready, and then I send it off to mastering basically.

Amazing! Well now that you say that, the sounds reflecting the song, there is something very particular about your songs, which is they include homemade samples. How did you come up with this idea and what were you trying to achieve?

Lorana: I think it grew with me, because I’ve always been amazed by sounds that are in my surroundings. It’s from unique experiences like hearing an animal for the first time, that you’ve never heard before, to simple things like the sound of your front door closing. That sound is just very familiar, and safe. For example, the window blinds in my parents’ house, if I hear those, it feels wholesome and warm to me. I started recording these things just with a Zoom handheld recorder basically, and then one thing led to another. As I was producing, it just made so much sense to implement them into the songs as well. I think, first I just used them as percussion, or as a sound here and there and, gradually, I wanted to implement them into my synth as well. I feel like that really helped me to, in a way, bring myself and my personality even closer to the listener, which is something that I’m really aiming for, because all my songs are very personal and very fragile in a way, and I feel like by using all those sounds, I can even be more honest with them, if that makes sense.

Yeah, it’s so interesting that it came from a concept that wasn’t directly tied to songwriting, because you said you were recording them before you thought of using them in your songs.

Lorana: Yeah! And then I heard other artists, a few years ago already. For example, the first time I really realised, ‘okay, this is something that we can do, I can use that, and it’s not something extremely weird’, was when I heard “Alaska”, by Maggie Rogers. She’s using pigeons in there, and stuff like that, and that really inspired me, and I think that was the last push I needed to use them myself as well.

Very nice! Correct me if I’m wrong, you have also been involved in other parts of the creative, right? The artwork, the videos… How have you found this side of things?

Lorana: Again, very very exciting, because I collaborate with Arthur, [my boyfriend], and he just really understands my vision. It’s this thing where ‘one plus one makes three’, that’s a Flemish saying I think, don’t know if that’s an English thing to say (laughs)! There’s this thing that, when we work together, things just become even better because we bounce ideas off each other, and just a random thought can develop into a music video. I think I really like being involved in that side of things because it ties back to the conceptual art that I love so much. Of course, music has to speak for itself, and that’s something beautiful in itself, but it’s also interesting to see how something visual can add power to what you’re creating.

Yeah, definitely, 100%. The video for your upcoming single, “Here In Between”, what was the concept behind it?

Lorana: The one where I’m like, typing the lyrics?

Watch: “Here in Between” – Lorana



Yes, that’s the one!

Lorana: Oh, okay! That’s a visualiser, and then we have a music video. So that visualiser, it was shot… The video clip that you’re seeing, was shot here at the end of the road, in front of a bus stop, where the commercial thing that is showing on the side of the bus stop wasn’t there anymore, so it was basically a big white screen. And it’s there that we also, in front of such a screen, that we also took the picture for this campaign. So we saw that again, a few months later, and we decided that maybe we should go film something there to use as a visualiser because, again, it symbolises that, ‘being here in between’, you’re waiting at a bus stop to go somewhere. Never really at home somewhere and, at the same time, at home in loads of different places. So that’s what that bus stop symbolises, and then the lyrics, is as if you’re typing to your family, which I’m doing a lot, to my family, my friends back home, and then when I’m there, to my friends here. I feel like a big part of my life turned into an online world, like my social life, especially with lockdown. And I think that’s something that people will be able to relate to as well. A big part of staying in contact with your friends is just like, sending them a simple message like ‘hey, how are you doing? How’s your week been?’, and so we thought it could be cool to just type the lyrics there, as if I’m saying them to someone. Because that song, for me, is very much an anthem to 20 something year-olds, like ‘hey, we’re in this together, it’s okay if you don’t know where you’re going, at least we know where we come from, but it’s all good right now’. Typing it out kind of emphasizes that for me, as if I’m sending someone a comfort message.

Yeah, that’s a really cool idea actually. You were talking about lockdown: how has lockdown affected your creative process? Do you think it’s been reflected in the music you’re making?

Lorana: Yes, in a way, but I’m also very lucky that I’m used to writing at home. So I write and I produce everything in my bedroom, so my creative process in itself hasn’t really changed. It was mainly that I found it harder to find inspiration, because I usually get my inspiration, as most artists do I think, from things that are happening as life happens to you if you like, go see a concert, or even you just walk down the street to go visit a gallery and something happens. Lockdown really took that part away where I usually got my inspiration from. I was writing a lot of songs, but I felt like I was writing about the same topics that were just stuck in my head, and a bit more abstract, rather than things that happened to me in real life.

Got it. Circling back to the EP, what are you expecting to achieve with this release?

Lorana: I like that question, it really gets me thinking. I think I’m trying to not expect too much, because I have a bad habit where I set expectations, and then if I don’t reach them, I beat myself up for it. I know that I’m doing all that I can for this one, and that the songs are the best that I’ve made so far, because I still love them, and that’s never happened before. All I wanna do now is release them, and just hope that a few people connect with them, because I think that’s my main goal with it. I want to reach people that need some joy, or some comfort, or just something to connect with, let them know that they’re not alone, because I think that’s a big part of our emotions, and our feelings, and things that happened to us. There’s always someone that went through the same thing; myself, as a teenager, music was the place where I found comfort, where I could understand that I wasn’t alone, so now I want to do that with my music for other people, I think that’s my main goal with this.

That makes a lot of sense actually, I relate a lot to what you’re saying. We’re coming to the end of the interview: with the release of the EP, you’re coming to the end of a chapter. What does the next chapter look like?

Lorana: It’s always hard to end the chapter, so I kind of prepared myself for it by already thinking about the next EP, and thinking about what to make next. I am in the midst of writing, and experimenting, and I’m focusing on creating now, aside from obviously working on the release of Here In Between. But I’m also at a place where I feel ready to start collaborating with other people, and trying to get into writing rooms and sessions, and develop myself more as a writer with other people, and learn from their process as well. I feel like there’s so much more I can still learn just by creating things with other people. And then the other thing is that I’m also very excited to build a team around me. I’ve worked on this EP… I had help from Arthur and some friends that are the most amazing people, but it’s a lot to do independently. I’m just very excited to maybe find someone that could help take this to the next level.

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Lorana Here in Between

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