Extracts from the Irish Times Interview Of 23 July '93. By Joe Jackson.
Of course, one could probably help sales ot Words Mean Nothing. . . by suggesting that emotionally, if not musically, the album is the 1993 equivalent of A Woman's Heart, but that would be telling only half the story.
Although sung by an eigatic female who calls herself L, these decidedly beautiful and highly feminine songs were produced and, in many cases, composed by a man: Stano. Some, such as Baby's Shoes were written by Paul Tiernan, who also clearly empathizes with the woman's point of view. As such this song-cycle can be described as pure Irish soul music; a magical maze of mirrors in front of which anyone can walk and see reflections of his, or her inner life. Mellow and contemplative in mood it is also the flip-side of cyberpunk soundscapes like U2's Zooropa. Yet it Is not an album in which the politics, or individual personalities of its creators, take precedence over the music. At least, that's what L tells me. "This album is not about me, its not a personality album as such" she says, just a little self- consciously. "It's also not about Stano the writer, or Paul the writer, it's about music and, hopefully. music that touches everybody. And we have already found that people from young kids to 70 year-old grandmothers, like songs such as - 'Underground or Baby's Shoes. So I think we did succeed along those lines, which is very important to us."
L certainly agrees that Paul Tiernan must. at least. rent a room in the feminine psyche. ''Any of Paul's songs can be sung really well by a woman because he has an extraordinary understanding of what woman are all About." she says. ''And yet everyone, male or female could listen to Baby's Shoes and relate to it. Especially these days in terms of the way a woman who's 17 and pregnant would be treated in Ireland. She's lost and feeling helpless because society has failed her--and Paul captures the true feelings of a woman trying to cope with those pressures. And yet, because Paul writes very poetic lyrics, I wouldn't want to nail the song down to having just one meaning.''
Stano cuts across, picking up L's line: 'But Baby's Shoes is my favorite song on the album because that's exactly what I thought it was about, initially, a young woman abandoned because she's having a child. Yet, as L says, and as with my own songs, we just want to evoke feelings on the album not tell people this is what any particular song is all about."
As if performing a duet, L slides right in and highlights the subtext in what Stano has been saying."That's what I've always loved about Stano's work itself. There is a great depth of emotion to it, and an element of romanticism which is, again, evoked rather than stated," she enthuses. "Since I was a girl at home l'vc always loved people like Mario Lanza and Judy Garland, both of whom. at times probably went over the top in terms of emotion. But I love those people because they sing with great heart. The difference between their approach and my own is that I don't want to dominate the music, I just want to be another instrument in there, performing alongside everyone else being an integral part of the orchestration . "
And L? Does she ever feel artistically frustrated, being a woman whose journey into the recording studio depends largely on male songwriters providing her with the right material? Would she like to compose her own album as a follow-up to Words Mean Nothing . .? "I'd don't feel even slightly frustrated at this level," she says, laughing. "I have no ambitions in that area at all. I just love to sing, I love to work with other musicians and I love to be in thc studio, however I get in there. In fact I'm never happier than when I'm in the studio, particularly when I work with Stano and Paul, because even in the composing we work closely together .....When you're involved in making music at that level there's really no room for artistic frustration. "
L'S BELLS - Hot Press Homefront 4th March '98 - Interview by John Walshe
Fire In a dream cage, the second album from Dublin chanteuse L, is a melting pot of vocals, loops and fx from a woman obviously at home in the studio.
"Music was very much part of the household that I was brought up in. My father is one of these irritating people who is in really good humour in the morning and sings all the time" laughs L. "Singing was always a major form of expression for me. I wouldn't talk about personal things to people but II would always sing. It's a great way of cheering yourself up. Music has always been a major part of my life. I cant imagine existence without it."
Singing is definitely something that comes naturally to L. Her latest album, Fire in a dream cage has enough studio effects and loops to keep a host of DJs in business, but itstill all comes back to the power of the human voice.
However it was only in the last few years that she started to sing professionally, thanks to the enigmatic Stano.
"He wrote two songs and we decided to record them for devilment" she recalls. "It just went on and on and eventually turned into the first album. we didn't plan it- it just sort of happened like that. We developed a style of working together and its great."
The duo's practices are not exactly orthodox. "we don't have a band who all sit and play together and then go in and record" she explains. " we come up with an idea for a song and go into the studio and put down the basic notion, for instance a vocal melody. Then we start to work on that and build instruments around it - so we create the song in the studio"
While she has a huge input into the music on the album, L leaves the lyric writing to Stano and co-writer Paul Tiernan.
"I love their words - they write really strange unusual and beautiful songs" she enthuses. "And I'm not into straight story songs, I never really was. I like songs that make you feel a particular way and your not sure why - there's a whole mood or an image captured in them."
Ls second album Fire in a dream cage bears out her words. Traditional song structures are definitely
not on the agenda. Instead, each song is like immersing yourself in a particular mood or feeling, partly due to the fact that some of the songs contain up to 90 studio tracks all working at the same time, giving a very textured effect. "Its very much an album that, the more you listen to it, the more you get out of it" explains L. "It is designed that way. A lot of people have said that the music is very cinematic, very visual, and I think that that's what I like about it."
"People ask me why the vocal isn't way up front in the mix, and for a start, Ive never liked people who just shout and roar" she adds . "It doesn't suit the type of song I do. I like to keep the vocal back a little bit, because it makes you listen to the backing track more, and we have put such a lot of effort into creating these very textured, layered backing tracks that itit's ait of a waste iuf nobody listens to them. You have to listen a bit harder to get into it."
Fire in a dream cage has so far only been available in Ireland, but plans are in place to release the album further afield. L's substantial web site, which contains the entire album, has attracted a lot of attention from all over the globe.
"The web site is important to us because it gives us access to the world, really" she says. "People wherever they are can just tune in and have a listen. Equally from a marketing point of view, its important to us that the people in the territories that we're interested in going to can actually pick up and listen to it. Its great for an independent company, because we don't have the huge budget that all the majors have. So the web has been very important for us."
Fire in a dream cage was released through Hue records, a Dublin independent label, which is something that the singer feels strongly about.
"For the sort of music we want to do, independent is the only to be, because you have total freedom "she says matter-of-factly. "There's no point in someone trying to pressure me into being a particular way, because I just wont do it. There's no enjoyment in it . If I cant do it my way, I just wont do it. There's easier ways of making a living."
Thankfully, L is continuing to do things her own way, and in the process is proving just how important the vision of the independent labels is to the music industry. Long may she continue.