St Valentine – the new project from Lemaitre’s Ulrik Denizou Lund – delivers a compelling outpouring of fresh inspiration and untethered energies on his self-titled debut EP, opening a world of possibility as raw and feverish as it is plain groovy.
for fans of Lemaitre, Neon Trees, Phoenix
Stream: “The End Is Bright” – St Valentine
I think it can be good, but also unhealthy to escape the present.
St Valentine’s debut EP begins as a party and ends with cathartic release, taking listeners on a stunning sonic journey along the way.
The new project from Lemaitre’s lead vocalist and producer Ulrik Denizou Lund has few rules and even fewer expectations; free from the constraints of his main band, Lund blends rock, pop, RnB, hi-fi, lo-fi together with stunning finesse on his debut solo project. It’s an exciting, enchanting operation – one that opens with raw, Strokes-esque uninhibited guitars and feverish vocals (“The End Is Bright”), only to transition into moodier expanses, dark moments of brooding, and lighter, pulsing beats that recall everyone from Phoenix to Joywave, to The Weeknd and beyond.
In the morning light
In the morning bright as I wake up
In the morning light
Couldn’t look myself in the mirror
Not afraid, I am fine
Still, my fear creeps up on my back I
And I cannot stop
It’s coming faster and faster, too fast
I got nowhere to hide
Stuck in the bathroom with no makeup
I lost my sight
Blinded myself with my high beams
And the end is bright
Brighter than the sun we’re chasing
And I cannot stop
You and me baby
We were born to die
Released August 14, 2020 via Substellar Records, St Valentine EP arrives just a few months after Lemaitre’s JGM EP this May. That collection – named after and dedicated to the band’s longtime friend and collaborator, Johannes Greve Muskat – served as Lemaitre’s first independent offering (Substellar Records is their own label) after parting ways with Capitol Records in 2019. Independence means a project like St Valentine can now come to life without too many strings attached – giving the artists more opportunities for self-expression, exploration, and experimentation.
Make no mistake: St Valentine is not U2’s Passenger album. It is not Lemaitre going so far out of focus that they might fear alienating fans; in fact, the project is a cohesive and finessed palette when one considers the wealth of diverse sounds housed within, and a perfect complement to the band’s recent repertoire. Simply, St Valentine is Lund’s chance to spread his own wings and fly – his work with Ketil Jansen in Lemaitre is still very much in play, and the band still have much more in store (JGM is, if anything, a turning point in their career).
“Having more autonomy and full control has definitely been exciting,” Lund tells Atwood Magazine. “Though it’s often really exciting working with other people, it’s a different experience which has been fun to undertake.”
One of the many joys about St Valentine’s six songs is their sheer versatility: The tracks are as at home on the dance floor, as they are on a run, as they are ready to be your nighttime jam and your morning energizer. Even a deeper, ambient number like “Ghosts Aren’t Real” has a buoyant lift that helps it transcend the standard boxes to which we are all-too comfortable assigning our music: This for day, that for night.
“They’re part of the same universe,” Lund says of his two musical projects. “St Valentine is more melancholic and indie, while Lemaitre is more dance oriented and funky.”
I haven’t set out to make a certain vibe – just sounds I think sound cool together.
Whatever you’re hankering for, St Valentine is here to fill your musical void.
Lund’s solo EP delivers a compelling outpouring of fresh inspiration and untethered energies, opening a world of possibility as raw and feverish as it is plain groovy. Dive into St Valentine in our interview below; the St Valentine EP is out now!
Stream: ‘St Valentine’ – St Valentine
A CONVERSATION WITH ST VALENTINE
Atwood Magazine: Hey Ulrik! For starters, what inspired this St Valentine moniker, and how long have you been working on these songs?
St Valentine: Hi! I wanted a simple name that wouldn’t be too hard to pronounce in different languages, e.g. Lemaitre or Ulrik. The idea of the name came just because my birthday is on February 14th. Valentine was also up to consideration as my birth name at one point a long time ago. Thank god my parents didn’t choose that name in the end.
I’ve been working on most of the songs since early last year. Though “Answering Machine” was made back in 2014.
What separates St Valentine from Lemaitre, for you?
St Valentine: It’s perhaps more personal and a bit left field of Lemaitre. Though they’re part of the same universe, St Valentine is more melancholic and indie, while Lemaitre is more dance oriented and funky.
You debuted in late June with “The End Is Bright,” the lead single off your EP. Why introduce St Valentine with this song?
St Valentine: I thought it was a cool introduction to the project. The upbeat beats and sounds in juxtaposition with the more dark subject matter of the lyrics. I also thought it was having the title of the first track being “The End Is Bright”
“The End Is Bright” reminds me so much of Neon Trees and The Strokes – essentially, ‘00s indie rock. But that’s not the case throughout the EP – I think there’s a lot of diversity in these tracks. Does St Valentine have a specific aesthetic or vibe, for you?
St Valentine: The Strokes have definitely had a big influence on me from early on. But my influences are very diverse so that probably leads to a lot of diversity in the music. I haven’t set out to make a certain vibe – just sounds I think sound cool together.
What, if any, story is this EP trying to tell? In other words, what do these six songs share in common?
St Valentine: It’s not a concept album in any way, but I do feel it tells a story listening from beginning to end. Maybe it’s not a very obvious one, but I hope it can take the listener on a journey and they can take something away from it.
How does a song like “The End Is Bright” distinguish itself from, say, “Ghost Aren’t Real” – which much more ambient and synth-laden?
St Valentine: “The End Is Bright” is structured more like a standard pop-rock song, while Ghosts is more experimental in melodies and structure. I like both types of song and there’s never really a solid plan how to finish an idea. The structure and sounds used usually ends up that way through a long process of figuring out what “works” with the song. Which is always hard to gauge or plan ahead.
“South of the Border” is an incredibly colorful, buoyant song. “I’ll take the easy way out – if this stuff doesn’t work out the way down south,” you sing. What is this song about, for you?
St Valentine: It’s about escaping yourself or finding a way out of a difficult situation. Also about finding that new place or state of being. I wrote this song together with Bearson and Jerry Folk last year when we did a short writing trip to Mexico, so it’s also inspired by that place and time we found ourselves in. The title is from the Murakami book “South of the Border, West of the Sun”.
Why does the idea of “escaping yourself” appeal to you? What is it about this concept that you find inspiring?
St Valentine: I think it’s something we all do to cope with reality. Either if it’s through art, a hobby or drugs. I think it can be good, but also unhealthy to escape the present. But I think it’s something we’ll always do and something I find myself doing a lot of the time.
One of the great things about a solo project is that you really do have complete ownership over it. What was the most exciting thing for you in undertaking this project?
St Valentine: Having more autonomy and full control has definitely been exciting. Though it’s often really exciting working with other people, it’s a different experience which has been fun to undertake.
What was one of the hardest things about this solo project?
St Valentine: To continue the thought from the last question, it’s really exciting working with other people as well and bouncing ideas back and forth. You also know more easily when you’re really onto something. And there’s not so much self doubt in the process as when you’re doing it mostly by yourself.
Do you have a personal favorite track off the EP?
St Valentine: I think maybe “Ghosts Aren’t Real”. It’s a journey and it never comes back to the same place. I’m also pretty happy with the exciting sound design on that song which I did together with Jerry Folk and Bearson. While I try to make every sound exciting, some songs lend themselves to sound design more than others.
“Answering Machine” is a really funky, groovy close to the record. Why end the EP on this song?
St Valentine: I always felt the track was an “outro” type of track. The structure is a bit unconventional and I like how it ends in a sudden, sort of an unfulfilled way. It’s a short song told as a message left on an answering machine. It’s goes directly over from the previous song “Call My Number” and it’s sort of an open ended ending of the EP.
Overall, what do you hope listeners take away from St Valentine?
St Valentine: I hope they can find some joy in listening to it. That’s really all I can ask for. But if others can find some deeper meaning in it, that means a lot to me.
Is this a one-off adventure for you, or do you think we can expect more St Valentine music beyond this in the years to come? How will you balance this and Lemaitre?
St Valentine: It’s definitely not a one-off and I already have a few demos ready that I want to release in the not too distant future. Lemaitre is still first priority, but as the projects share a lot of the same features and universe I think they contribute to each other creatively.
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📸 © Johannes Greve Muskat
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