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Lontalius Returns With Two New Singles + Interview

Lontalius Returns With Two New Singles + Interview

Chris Cudby / Friday 6th July, 2018 10:12AM

Prodigious Wellington singer and producer Eddie Johnston aka Lontalius has been uncharacteristically quiet in the two years following his rapturously received debut album I'll Forget 17. It turns out Johnston has been working away on new material in collaboration with Grammy Award-winning producer Om'Mas Keith (Frank Ocean, Jay Z, Sun Ra), and shares today two heartfelt new songs from that creative partnership 'I Wanted Him' and 'That Includes You', described by the artist as "one is about lust and the other is about love. Both feelings I don’t really understand." Lontalius generously took time out from chilling on the 4th of July in his current Los Angeles headquarters to chat with Chris Cudby about the new singles and his musical plans. Listen to 'I Wanted Him' and 'That Includes You' here, and read their conversation below...

To my ears 'I Wanted Him' seems to explore a Balearic pop feeling, and 'That Includes You' feels like woozy electronic soul. Were you drawing on any inspirations on the production side, musically or otherwise?

I think these ones, they both came naturally. I started with this producer Om'Mas Keith, maybe early 2016, I kind of had the idea for these songs. When I was with Om'Mas we listened to songs from the mid-late eighties from his youth, stuff that I'd never heard before. Y'know, they weren't U2 songs or whatever, (which is) most of the eighties I am aware of. 'That Includes You' I definitely feel I was trying to find a new way to express some traditional indie rock ideas. Distorted 808 bass in the background rather than a real bass guitar. The drums are live drums but cut up samples. I can't play drums so I went into the recording studio and recorded myself playing each one individually. I makes it sound quite fun I think.

I was watching some videos of Om'Mas Keith's studio and it looks really nice. What was it like working with him, and what kind of collaboration was it?

It was super neat. I wasn't really sure what to expect even though I was into the idea. He's an RnB producer, he's worked on Frank Ocean, he's done some stuff on rap albums. So I was like, is he just going to add some RnB drums to my sad guitar songs, what is this going to be? It ended up being really interesting in that we both kind of found a middle ground of where both of our vibes were. I was playing guitar and making this ambient droning things that were quite emotional, I wasn't expecting how he'd react to that but he was super into it. Honestly, we ended up making ten or fifteen soundscapes, which I ended up building on over the next few years.

You've talked about how you see the two songs as being like a complementary unit, could you talk about the connection between the two songs?

I guess at the core of it, 'That Includes You' came out of when I was exploring 'I Wanted Him', the kind of keyboard sounds. It felt like there was a tension in 'I Wanted Him' that needed to be relieved. I think 'That Includes You' did that. Also, I'm still really into the idea of A-sides and B-sides. From the feedback that I've had I can understand that 'I Wanted Him' is the main one, the one that people will put in their playlists or whatever, but having the two together for one thing is more content which is good, it gives people something else that they can grab hold of, which I really like.

Do you feel you approach to songwriting has changed since I'll Forget 17?

I don't think the approach has changed as much. The core thing for me is always about just being honest and being real with myself, so that when people hear it they're hearing just the unfiltered "this is what I am." The kind of music I like, that's what I want to hear. This time definitely, it pushed towards pop music. It's not like I was doing sessions with Max Martin or anything, I was just understanding that the music that I fell in love with when I was a kid was very accessible music. I think as a teenager I got more into experimental stuff, listened to Radiohead too much, it's like "I don't want to put choruses in songs." So now this time it's just like, "no fuck it." What I want to do is connect with people, so to do that on a bigger scale I'm going to have big choruses and big sounds.

You have a dedicated audience for your work. How do you feel about the idea that your audience is growing with your music?

It feels good, it's also scary. When I was putting stuff up on Soundcloud I got very into, I'd finish a song and then twenty minutes later I'd upload it. It was a very immediate way to see peoples reactions. That definitely steered the path I went on. The songs that didn't get as much traction or whatever, I wouldn't really explore that road as much. But now I've spent two years working on a bunch of music, with only the feedback from my friends and people I work with, which is a very different thing. Now I'm more nervous that these people won't be on my side anymore [laughs]. But I'm hoping they will cos, y'know, we all gotta grow.

You've alluded to more songs being on the way, can you reveal any info on what you've got planned coming up?

Honestly, I'm play it as it goes. There was point last year where I was working on an album, trying to create the perfect ten songs or whatever, but I've kind of shied away from that. Not because I don't want to put out a great album, but it doesn't feel necessary to put all my time and effort into this static thing. I think the plan from now on is release singles and play shows and just get something going, then maybe return for an album conversation.

Relating to getting stuff out to audiences online, what's the story with your Twitter account being blocked?

I guess I created it when I was twelve, apparently that's against the rules. Because they updated for GDPR policy changes, it basically meant that anyone who had a birthday that meant that they'd created it before they were thirteen got banned. Which is pretty funny, but also you go on their Twitter mentions and it's a bunch of teen K-Pop fans just fucken furious. So maybe one day I'll get it back or maybe I never will. [laughs]


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