Indie pop artist-to-watch Litany discusses her dazzling new tracks “My Dude” and “Go Out,” love songs, depression, and more!
Stream: “My Dude” – Litany
This is a new chapter and I wanted to really put my stamp and my influences on the music
UK-based indie pop act Litany has resurged this year with more color, force, and flavor than ever before. Now the solo project of London-based 25-year-old Beth Cornell, Litany’s insanely infectious danceable pop has commanded attention through enchanting melodies supported by dynamic bass lines and a plethora of sweet stuff in-between. Influenced by Metronomy, Robyn, Blood Orange and others, Litany is well on her way to establishing herself as a dominant presence in the indie pop realm.
Cornell’s excitement about her own music is contagious. “I feel like this cocktail of bass heavy, vocal led, synth gods (and goddesses) provided the perfect inspiration for this next chapter of Litany!” she exclaims proudly.
There’s a rumour that you got
A new girl and I don’t come close
She lives round the corner
From your place and she
drives her dad’s Mercedes
Oh look at her, isn’t she cool?
Some would say a match for you
Oh what a gift to be in her shoes
Dontcha know that
I really like you
And if you liked me too
I could be your girlfriend
You could be my dude
– “My Dude,” Litany
Collaborating with songwriters/producers Earl Saga and Hugh Vincent, Litany’s first two songs of 2019 are absolute stunners: First, Atwood editor’s pick “My Dude,” and now new single “Go Out” present the artist in a bath of shimmering keys and bubbling bass that ooze emotion and affection.
At the center of this groundswell of activity is Beth Cornell, still a freshly solo act finding Litany’s voice one story and one song at a time. Atwood Magazine spoke to the artist-to-watch about her dazzling new music, love songs, depression, and more. Get to know Litany via our exclusive interview below!
A CONVERSATION WITH LITANY
Atwood Magazine: Thanks for chatting, Beth! I've fallen in love with “My Dude” this summer; that song has been on my rotation since its release. When did you begin making music, and what was your music environment like growing up?
Litany: I wrote my first song when I was five and it was called ‘Little Wooden Bench’ – I can still remember performing it to my entire family with my friend playing the recorder as an accompaniment… [Hahaha] But, no, I started writing seriously when I paired up with my former bandmate and producer Jake Nicolaides after quitting university and moving home to Harrogate, a town in northern England. I was battling depression and writing together was an incredible outlet for both of us. We worked part-time and wrote music on the side in his parent’s garage. One song blew up online and I guess things have just been getting bigger and better! Jake left this time last year and since then I moved to London and have worked with some incredibly talented producers and songwriters. “My Dude” and “Go Out” are the first two installments from this past year’s work, and I’m so in love with them!
Which, if any, influences inspire your music these days?
Litany: Metronomy, Robyn and Blood Orange, to name but a few have had a massive impact on my songwriting process. Knowing this was now a solo project, I deemed it very important not to veer too far away from the existing Litany sound – I love it and so do the fans. That said, this is a new chapter and I wanted to really put my stamp and my influences on the music – I feel like this cocktail of bass heavy, vocal led, synth gods (and goddesses) provided the perfect inspiration for this next chapter of Litany!
Diving into the heart now, I’ve had “My Dude” on repeat each day since the first time I heard that song. Was its story inspired by real events?
Litany: Thank you! It was indeed. When my drummer, Michael, was round at my old house we found a diary under my bed from when I was 15. We laughed at how lame some of the entries were and one in particular stood out, I just knew I had to write about it. I liked a guy, he liked an older girl, she seemed really cool so naturally I hated her… [hahaha]
What is it about heartbreak that inspires you? Why do you think you are so moved by this emotion?
Litany: I think in a round about way most songs are about love, whether it’s a person, a place, a thing, an action – it’s the most powerful emotion. I like to really put the experiences that I write about under a microscope and focus on a particular point in a relationship rather than over-generalising and condensing an entire romance into 3 minutes. Heartbreak dominated much of my adolescent life, I have a lot to say!
That’s so interesting about your take on love songs. What would you say is the most quintessential love song you’ve ever written?
Litany: Of my current discography, it would have to be PS2. It’s my favourite of Litany 1.0 era, it’s beautiful and simply about loving every little thing about someone even when you don’t see eye to eye. I have however got a song coming out later in the year that will give PS2 a run for its money, it’s a special one!
Conversely, what are your favorite love songs?
Litany: This is such a hard question. I think it would have to be “True Love Will Find You In The End” by Daniel Johnston, it does something to me.
What came first with “My Dude”: The music, or the lyrics?
Litany: The music came first, I was writing with two great friends of mine, Earl Saga and Hugh Vincent. Hugh started playing/writing that bass-line at like 2 AN. I remember almost choking on my coffee and screaming “RECORD THAT RIGHT NOW.” It was so, so good, and the chorus melody came instantly. It’s quite playground chanty; I instantly knew that it was the diary entry’s time to shine.
I really like you
And if you liked me too
I could be your girlfriend
You could be my dude
The chorus lyrics are so straightforward and simple, yet intimate and deeply meaningful. What’s their significance to you, and how much of these words came instantly (compared to struggling for weeks to come up with them)?
Litany: The lyrics came pretty quickly with “My Dude,” I didn’t labour over it for weeks (which believe me, happens more than you’d think)! I was writing from my 15 year-old self’s perspective, it was all in that diary entry, I just had make it groove! I just knew I wanted the chorus to be ingrained in peoples’ minds, and I think it worked!
Stream: “Go Out” – Litany
Moving on to “Go Out,” I love the piano beat introduction on this song! Do you typically write on one instrument, or you are the kind who grabs whatever musical piece is available?
Litany: Weirdly, I’m not the most musical, I can’t play anything past the basics so when I write alone, it’s usually a stabby synth piano loop that gets me over the starting line! I also wrote “Go Out” with Earl Saga and Hugh Vincent, music just pours out of both of them and whatever they create inspires my topline lyrically and melodically. We work so well together, ideas are constantly bouncing around the studio.
“Go Out” has a similar, but different message to “My Dude.” Can you talk about the personal significance of this song, and its importance to you?
Litany: It’s written about my struggles with depression when at university, so a little later down the line from “My Dude.” I was invited to a birthday party away from home that I couldn’t avoid and there I met someone who was like a light in the dark, he made me feel like I could ‘go out’ again after not wanting to for so long. “Go Out” is an ode to him.
I’m sorry to hear about your struggle with depression, but glad that music has played a healing role during difficult times. Can you talk about why music has been this force for you?
Litany: Aside from it being my passion, it’s just so powerful. Growing up, my grandma told me journal, “It will help to get it down.” – It did! Everyone’s had their own struggles; I had some particularly crappy ones, and getting it all out was necessary to healing. Turning these entries into song is a soul-bearing process, but honesty is important and I’m getting better at sharing.
Turning these entries into song is a soul-bearing process, but honesty is important and I’m getting better at sharing.
Parrying off of that, so many musicians struggle with depression. Do you have anything you feel you could share with them in terms of what you’ve learned through your own experience?
Litany: Despite overcoming depression, anxiety still cripples me on a day to day basis. With this in mind, I think it’s best I heed my own advice: It’s going to be really hard, there are gonna be songs that people may not like and they don’t care if it took you months to write, BUT don’t let it get you down, get outta bed, meet new people, write more songs, experience things and most importantly, take a step back. Take yourself out of your own head and be proud of what you’ve already achieved – it’s not easy!
I love the deep, bass-driven sound you’ve got going on these days. Is this the music you always wanted to make? Why do you think these songs are pouring out of you at this time?
Litany: I would say my taste changes over time and this ultimately will dictate the kind of music I end up creating. I’ve been really inspired by artists/producers who use organic sounding noodling bass-lines, it’s one of the first things on my songwriting checklist. In the past, when Litany was two people, we probably did have to compromise on things meaning that neither of us, despite loving our back catalogue, were 100% fully satisfied with the sound. Now I’m alone, I’m really going in on every detail and making sure each synth, snare, bass, etc. is exactly how I imagine it in my head.
How do you describe your music to your parents and grandparents?
Litany: My parents and grandparents haven’t missed a show yet (No. 1 fans), so they’d probably be able to describe my music better than I could, buuuut if they weren’t familiar I would say: “It’s boppy, poppy and sometimes soppy.”
Lastly, who else should I be listening to these days? Who’s on your radar?
Litany: Right now, I’m obsessed with a duo from London called Kira. Her voice is like velvet and every song is like a Fleetwood Mac style slice of heaven. I’m also writing with a guy called Oscar Scheller who releases under the same name. He has a track called “Interstellar Disco” which has to be the pop song of 2019 (other than “Go Out” and “My Dude” obviously, sorry Osc).
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