Loraine James on how Slate + Ash plugins and the Hologram Electronics Microcosm inspired the sound of Whatever The Weather

Reflection by Loraine James stood out as one of the 2021 the most inventive versions. As self-identified IDM producer, she single-handedly propelled the (slightly moldy) category into a whole new era, replacing dated sci-fi references with soundtracks drawn from exercise and R&B, and substituting the genre’s implicit superiority for an endearing sense of vulnerability.

Loraine’s latest project, Whatever the Weather, further explores the cerebral, glitch-out aesthetic that marked her previous work while making fruitful detours into vaporous textures and pensive vibes.

It may be released on a new label and under a new alias, but it’s more than just a side project: it’s an opportunity for the producer to explore improvisational approaches and unexpected influences that weren’t hers. not. eponymous work. We met Loraine before the release of the album to find out more.

loraine james

(Image credit: Press/Loraine James)

What was the thought behind your decision to create a new alias for this album?

“During the creation of Reflection, I had a few songs that I liked, but I didn’t know what to do with them. I thought I’d start another project, and it turned into another alias.

What led you to choose the theme related to the weather, both in the names of artists and songs?

“Track titles are often the last thing that comes to mind. I was just thinking of linking the name with degrees. I don’t know if I’m going to keep doing this, but I thought it would be cool in this project.

Do temperatures have anything to do with the mood of the music?

“It’s just based on how warm, hot or cold a track is to me. Obviously someone else might listen to it and think it’s 10 degrees cooler.

What made you choose Ghostly International as your home for this project?

“I’ve been a fan of Ghostly for many years, as well as Hyperdub. They contacted me and I did a remix for Lusine last year. It was just an open conversation about possibly making a record with them, but I had nothing planned at the time. I thought this album would be perfect for that.

When you sat down to write or record, did you go there specifically with the intention of doing something for that project – as opposed to a Loraine James track?

“There are songs where I said to myself: is this a Loraine James song, or is it something else? Loraine James’ stuff has more structure, but Whatever The Weather is a bit softer and more ambient. The next record could take another form, I don’t know what it will look like.

I actually only started learning Ableton for live stuff, but ended up producing with it too

You talked about doing a lot of improvisation on this record. How do you create a balance between jamming and improvisation, and more structured tasks like arranging and mixing?

“Sometimes I don’t like to think that this part has to be exactly four bars, and so on. Sometimes I hit the record button and go for it, ignoring the metronome and just messing around. I’m going to improvise for five minutes and condense that into a song.

On previous albums, you worked with quite a few guest singers. What made you avoid that on this project and focus on your own voice?

“I didn’t imagine this record would have people on it, it just didn’t make sense to me. I love that Loraine James is a lot more collaborative, with singers from different musical backgrounds. Lots of things I do are on my own, but either I don’t post them or it becomes a Bandcamp thing.

Could you pick one or two pieces of gear – ranging from a synth to a plugin to an effects chain – that were fundamental to the making of the new album?

“I’ve used this Kontakt software called Slate + Ash on a few songs. They messaged me a couple years ago about it – I didn’t have anything Kontakt related, but I downloaded it and tried, and I ended up creating a lot of cool things that I had never really done before. A lot of the songs in that project came from that. Some of them didn’t make the album, but a lot of them demo stuff.

I’ve never used a real synth in my stuff before so it was cool playing around with the Novation Peak

“You can add any piece of audio to the plugin, so I’d go into Logic or Ableton and quickly do a riff, five or ten second riff, throw it into Slate + Ash and do something from there I didn’t really use their own sounds, but wanted to see what my own stuff would sound like in there.

So you use both Logic and Ableton – do you use each for different tasks?

“I pretty much use Ableton. There have been a few times, like on Sensual from For you and me, which I played the keys in Logic and added stuff in Ableton. I find it easier to work with – actually I only started learning Ableton for live stuff, but ended up producing with it too.

Has your studio setup changed significantly over the last year or two as your career has progressed?

“I mostly stick to what I know. I had a Novation Peak last year, which I just started using. I’ve never used a real synth in my stuff before, so it was cool to play with that. I also have a pedal, and I’ve never used a pedal before – the Hologram Electronics Microcosm. It’s really nice, I like it. »

There’s definitely a glitchy sound to a lot of your music, with lots of little subtle variations in your beats and melodies. Is this mainly achieved through close editing of the audio on the timeline, or do you use hardware, like the Microcosm for example?

“Sometimes I do it manually myself, I really randomly cut anywhere, copy and paste and randomly change the height. I’m going to do some measurements of it and then listen to it to see if it makes sense to me or not. I did this for a while, but doing this for a whole song is quite long. In some parts I’ll do it manually, and in others I’ll use Beat Repeat and Glitch 2. It’s a mix of those.

What was the thinking behind the decision to have Telefon Tel Aviv master the record?

“I look up to him a lot. I know he’s tired of mastering stuff, and I just thought it would be mean for him to master it and make it sound as good as possible. He did a very good work.

In terms of influences, were there any particular artists or albums that inspired you while working on this project specifically?

“Not massively, I was kind of in my own bubble at the time. I started that record while I was still making Reflection, I was just finishing it, and Reflection had a different mindset. That record was less personal and there was less to think structurally in. I don’t think any particular artist or record inspired me, but it was a good thing to face Reflection.

You’ve already talked about a fascination with math-rock and Midwestern emo. I can hear that in some of the melodies on this record, especially in those melodic patterns on “6 Degrees”. How do you think these styles influenced yours?

“It’s really just the way I play the keys. I want to go back to that – after school I was just playing the keyboard, and a lot of it was inspired by math-rock and midwestern emo guitars. I really want to incorporate more of this again, I used to do that a lot before I released anything properly.

Do you plan to visit this material? What does your live setup look like for these tracks?

“Just a show at Café Oto. The live setup is pretty much the same. I haven’t rehearsed at all, so I don’t have an idea yet, but I think it will be quite similar to the Loraine James concerts. I just use a MIDI keyboard, the Novation Launchpad and Launch Control.

Do you improvise a lot when playing, or do you mostly try to recreate what’s on the record?

“There are some tracks where it will sound like the record, but sometimes I like to play a more glitchy version, or a slower version, or a speeded up version. It often depends on the environment and line-up I’m in. am. Sometimes I play really late gigs, and I feel like I can’t play a song the way it’s supposed to be played. But I don’t really like it to sound exactly like the record – I feel like you could stay home and listen to this.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2022? Are you working on something new?

“No, not at the minute. There are a few things to come, but I haven’t worked on anything new this year. I feel like I could start on another Loraine James record this year, but I don’t know yet.

Whatever The Weather’s self-titled album is available now on Ghostly International.

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