Maxim Meyer-Horn

13 Mar 2019

Kelsey Lu Reveals Details About Debut Album in Exclusive Interview

Do you love music with a strong vision and with even stronger visuals? Well then you’ll certainly love the American singer, producer and model Kelsey Lu. Loved by Vogue, V Magazine and Dazed Magazine, the singer is currently on the rise to become an international acclaimed superstar. One thing is for sure: her debut album is already one of the biggest Grammy contenders for 2020 and will make her a global superstar. Before performing in Brussels as a support act for the legendary Neneh Cherry, we met the singer backstage to talk about her vision, future and some secret details about her upcoming debut album.

Hi Kelsey, how are you?

Hi, I am fine! You can call me Lu by the way…

In January, you released your new single “I’m Not In Love” which sounds slightly melancholic but yet very hopeful. What is the story behind the song?

Well, it’s originally done by a British band called 10cc and the first time I heard it, I was travelling from LA to Joshua Tree. The song really had an impact on me and I was really into exploring the story of the song. At the time, I was also deeply in love with someone, but always denied my feelings towards that person. The song really represents the way I was feeling at the time. It’s this feeling of obsession with love, but also discrediting it. I was also very in thought with the song and really wanted to know how the song was recorded, so I was really interested in the way the song was produced.

I am extremely into the backstory of things and that one really got me. When people heard the song for the first time, they hadn’t heard anything like it before. It became a massive hit, but what matters is that people heard the sound of “I’m Not In Love” and felt moved by it. This triggered me to recreate the song and the song took a pretty tedious amount of time in production. Mixing the sounds, all the thin layers, reaching from the lowest octave that I could to the highest and then bring it all together… It took me a lot of time.

The music video of the song is a real visual masterpiece. You’re a very visual artist, is it difficult for you to bring your thoughts and ideas into a song/video?

No, because when I make music, it’s already very visual in my head. I think a lot of the way I make music is kind of cinematic. And when I make something, I almost always think very visually.

The film we shot for the video, was shot in my house that I lived at in LA. When I first moved there, I knew I wanted to shoot something there because it was such a perfect place with so many beautiful view points. The video came about before I actually completed the song, because I did a photoshoot at the house. And there was that moment where I walked through the garage back into the house and everything was kind of chaotic. I really had this kind of visual of walking into this beautiful setting and then there is this kind of chaos.

The video really shows that you’re visually very creative. Is it important for you to show the world that you have a vision? 

Yeah, I’d say so. I think because I think of visuals and I am a very visual person, that’s naturally just a part of who I am. When it comes to introducing myself to a world that is in a way part of me, it’s very special to me. Because people are able to see my vision and maybe feel what I feel.

Your debut EP Church was released in 2016 and was recorded in a church. Why did you want to record the EP in a church?

Well, that particular church came into being because I was part of this interactive theatre performance that was happening in that church. I really became accustomed to the space and as it was the first part of the journey people would see of the performance, it was very intimate. I did it for a couple of months, so I became accustomed to the sound and the feel of the space. When I heard that they had recorded songs there before, I knew that I wanted to record something in that room. It really helped me to put the message of my music further and it seemed like an appropriate space because for me, growing up, I didn’t really go to church often. The only reason I would go into a church was because of funerals… Apart from being a place of past hurt, a church is, for me, also a place of safety, commune and bringing people together.

In the past, you’ve worked with Florence + The Machine, Solange, Sampha and BloodOrange. What have these collaborations brought to you as an artist? 

It helped me to develop myself and helped me grow. When you’re able to connect with people musically in this state of vulnerability and make something you feel, that’s something really beautiful. Being able to share it, is very important. I grew up playing classical music, so playing with other people has always kind of been as playing in a group. Being in harmony with other people, playing around has always been an important thing in music for me. So from there, taking it out of that sort of context and moving into more of a contemporary setting, I started going on my own and later started collaborating with other people. I think collaborating with people such as Solange is a real privilege. It’s a sense of freedom and I truly love that.

You’re going to release an album soon. Can you tell us a little bit more about it? What can we expect?

It’s an album, so of course there are going to be lots of stories on it. The album is called Blood and is coming out in spring. For me, as far as I thought about it, it’s in three acts. Three is for me sort of an important number because it’s my birth number, and I also think rhythmically in three’s. The first act starts off with strings, the first song you’ll jump into is all strings. And is sort of dealing with ‘the home’ and questioning what that means. Then it moves into more of a present, where home is less of a thought and more being in the present present. Things will become, from that point on, more upbeat and then it starts to have spirals of going out of control, which is the spiral of life. It then starts to look more into the future and settling out of this spiral by ending back on the strings.

Will there be any features?

I don’t have any features with other artists, but I am showing other parts of Lu (laughs). There are some songs where my voice kind of changes and people I’ve played the songs for asked: “Who is that?”… I always was so happy to reply with “THAT WAS ME!”.

The album has a disco track that I am really, really excited for, but there are many styles on it. It’s a real range of emotion. I do really believe in the concept of an album and feel like a lot of people are too focused on ‘everything has to be a single’ or ‘people don’t have the time or courage to listen to an album’. I think that’s really limiting the capacity of our minds and I think it’s a full body of work. In an album, everybody is able to feel their own vibe of something in it, which to me is very exciting…

Thank you so much for the interview and we can’t wait to hear all the songs of Blood!

Photography by Robin Joris Dullers for Enfnts Terribles

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