Hello Space Boy
An Interview with LOR
From the unimaginable imaginability of the vastness of space and all its redshiftingly mysterious corners to the tangibly tangy Techno scene of Belfast, Northern Ireland, producer LOR takes you to a rendezvous on the moon with his new, self-titled debut record. Profet’s Chief Ideologue Filip Lindström, desperately grounded on the face of the Earth, chats with the spacy musician about the universe and the incredibly outdated power struggle of the music industry.
For reasons stated later in this piece (be patient, all will be explained further down), the first thing I choose to ask Belfast producer LOR over the phone is for how long he has actually been doing music. Alas, his answer surprises me a tad. Why I didn’t expect the following response will also be looked into along the course of this assembly of rambling sentences.
»Under this name since 2015. Prior to that, I’ve been doing the electronic stuff for nearly 20 years, since I was 19. I worked previously as Jupiter Ace, and I did lots of things under that pseudonym. What happened with it was that it got quite commercial and when you go commercial, you can’t really go back. So, I dropped what I was doing and went back to my roots. That’s LOR.«
»So you didn’t enjoy the commercial success?«
»The commercial success is good, it’s really good but it comes at a big price. Creatively, I didn’t enjoy it. It was okay but it started feeling like a job. I had gotten into writing pop music and it’s quite nice when you have a hit, because I did have a couple of hits, but you’re not really doing it for yourself. I worked with Atlantic Records a lot on pop projects, they were nice to work with but a lot of the work you do gets lost. I just thought ‘This isn’t me’, you know. I wanted to be able to sit down and make music, and if nobody ever heard it, I’d still feel there was value in that. That’s the way I feel about LOR.«
»You’re in less need of validation as well?«
»I don’t need the validation, no, not at all. You have to be brave to do that, or I need to be anyway.«
The soulless existence of a creature in the pop circle is certainly attractive to some, and it has been discussed as heartily and as often as the question of the meaning of life in articles resembling my interview with LOR. The balance between the good (the underground) and the evil (the mainstream), and the pros and cons of the two, will continue to be questioned long after I write my last words, and my contribution to the matter will be as untraceable as a fart in space.
»I am rapidly ceasing to be a young man«
Speaking of space, I happen to react to the fact that both my interview object’s musical aliases, LOR (an abbreviation of »Lunar Orbit Rendezvous«, pronounced »lore«) and Jupiter Ace (most likely taken from an ancient home computer that mostly looks like an overly complicated bathroom scale) are related to the undiscovered realms above, below and all around us. Clearly, the Belfast producer on the screen in front of me must have some unfinished business with the great unknown…
»I wasn’t really doing that on purpose« he says about his two monikers. »I’ve just got a lot of space stuff around the house and I’m really into space. When I had a band as a teenager, it was called ‘Redshift’. Do you know what Redshift is?«
»No« I say, shortly and spaceheadedily.
»It has to do with the edge of the universe, and the shift of wavelength of light and so on. I’m interested in that. The name LOR was a ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ reference. Are you into ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ by any chance?«
»No« I say, again. »I wouldn’t say so, no.«
»Okay, it doesn’t matter anyway« LOR says, perhaps slightly hurt. »It was ‘Lore’ from the beginning, which is the name of a character in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’. I quickly changed it because there were other acts out there called ‘Lore’ and I realized ‘LOR’ stood for ‘Lunar Orbit Rendezvous’. Now, the album has evolved out of that. I thought it was cheesy to do a concept album to begin with but it just wrote itself. That’s the best way with music, you just let the process happen and try not to get in the way.«
»Will you continue this space theme? It seems like you’ve kept this fascination for quite some time.« I rightfully ask LOR.
»Not exclusively. I read lots of science fiction books, it’s just my interest, you know. But I’m interested in other things that I might do albums about as well. I do like the idea of having a theme to an album, it doesn’t have to be a big, cinematic concept, but something that holds it together. It makes it harder, and easier, to make a record and it gives it a meaning.«
»Would you say that the album is your interpretations of what space would sound like or is it just something that goes along with all the stories you read?«
»I think it’s kind of half-and-half. I just make the music and then I start seeing a place for it, seeing the album.«
I enjoy hearing how LOR separates the process and the person performing it, a scenario fit for a science fiction novel when you come to think of it. The borderline religious idea of creativity being given to a mindless being, for it to channel whatever must be made, is spacey enough but true in way too many cases.
What will be remembered from our time is the music label revolution, that has led to the existence of as many labels as there are artists signed to them. Lift a rock, anyone you can find, in Berlin and you’ll find an electronic music producer with a handful of labels to her name. If it rains in Brooklyn, the possibility of a drop actually landing on the ground is smaller than for it hitting a small scale label owner. The underground labels can work faster than established mammoths, labels that also most often are seen as the main antagonist in the fight for the good side in the concealed war of the music industry.
LOR just started his own label, an action that has given him empathy and understanding for the lengthy process behind a release. At the moment, he doesn’t know what he’ll do with the label, if it will be small or big, or if he’ll only put out his own tunes on it. The pure-at-heart, stay-gold kind off small labels we’re discussing (I’m not at all biased, as you clearly see) not seldomly makes for an environment opening up for the artist’s decision being definite, ergo a full on rewarding climate for the creator. Between the lines, I get that LOR finds this relieving.
Is LOR reading a sci-fi book down there?
I was surprised to hear LOR state that he has been making electronic music for about twenty years (»Because I look so young, right?« he chuckles matter-of-factly when I tell him) since I’ve read that he is »part of a fresh wave of electronic talent on both sides of the Irish border«, in Robin Murray’s Clash report on the video for LOR’s eponymous track. Reading the Clash article, I get the idea of Belfast having been free of an electronic movement until recently, which apparently isn’t true. LOR credits the sudden spotlighting of the Belfast scene on Bicep, a duo with nine years under their belt, and the AVA Festival (that clogs Belfast’s busy festival schedule together with the annual Festival of Prosecco as well as Aspects, Northern Ireland’s longest running literature fest).
»Both of those things made it seem like there is a musical renaissance happening in Belfast at the minute« LOR says, adding »LOR is a young act, but I am rapidly ceasing to be a young man.«
»And you’re not just jumping a trend here?« I say with Robin Murray’s Clash scribblings in mind.
»I don’t know what the trend is and I have no interest in jumping on it« LOR answers. »I just do my own thing. If there’s a band wagon, I don’t really take any notice of it.«
Should I say that LOR is a planet of his own, or rather a lone explorer boldly going where no man has gone before? Now orbiting around the music industry on a spacecraft manufactured on his own terms, he is a musical astronaut untouched by events passing miles upon miles below him. He alone is deciding the co-ordinates for his universal trip, and he can conquer any star or ravage any moon if he wants to. What it all comes down to, this astronomical journey, is extremely simple:
»When someone likes my music and wants to buy my record, it just means the world to me.«