Milwaukee-based producer Lorn knows how to stir up an emotion or two. His singular strain of electronic beats lead to him signing to Flying Lotus's L.A. label Brainfeeder for the release of 2010's Nothing Else, a record which saw him balancing his dynamic approach to music-making with a fearlessly emotive streak. For his new record the producer has embraced a sound with a sonic melancholy that is both troubling and comforting. Following the recent release of 'Ask the Dust', we got together with Lorn himself to talk religion, travel, and car repairs...
Dazed Digital: You've described your new release, 'Ask the Dust' as "haunted, oily and smeared" in contrast to your Brainfeeder release Nothing Else which you've said now seems "cold and strict". Has your writing process changed, or were you simply on a different level psychologically?
Lorn: I don't try to get too metaphorical when describing my own shit, so really it comes down to where and how they were made. Nothing Else was written farther north, isolated, on a lake, through harsh winters. Ask The Dust was written down here in Milwaukee where there is no real shade or quiet, at least in my neighborhood. Working with cars, busting knuckles, tearing apart and rebuilding machines. Bringing that into the studio afterwards.
DD: Your tracks often make use of space, literally and metaphorically - there's an almost oppressive depth to 'The Well', for example. Can you tell us a bit about the spaces that influenced the writing of this new album?
Lorn: 'The Well' is a track where I tried to quantify the feeling of a panic attack, something I'd been dealing with for a while but still couldn't wrap my head around. I likened it to being dragged into a well by some 'deep self' that was already down there. I would become untethered, sometimes so severely it would be difficult to count my own fingers. The end of the track is the wake of all that.. it could last for hours. I'm not so much influenced outright by real spaces, but rather they contribute to the definition in the overall project. 'Diamond' was started up north, where I wrote Nothing Else, and finished here in Milwaukee, for instance. That is also true with 'Ghosst'. Otherwise my travels throughout Romania were very inspiring...raw, ancient energy and, from what my idiot-ass can gather, a real surge of culture after the Cold War.
DD: 'Chhurch' is much more aggressive than you might expect for a track with a relatively pious title, and the album is named after John Fante's novel Ask the Dustwhich touches on his Catholic guilt. How much does religion play a part in your music, if at all?
Lorn: I disagree. Church is a silently violent place. In my opinion the entire purpose of religion is to communally defeat the spirit and dull the mind. You are first and foremost taught that you aren't shit, rather the specimin of some specific grand invention that we somehow can't comprehend but assume is supreme. I find it pervasive. The mind is an amazing gift regardless of its origin, from God, gods or things we percieve as intelligent beings, from nature, coincidence, illusion, whatever. For thousands of years it's been written and told a thousand ways by minds that grow, rot and fade away. My faith is in what stays, and that beauty and ugliness, our understanding of them, prevail over law, limits and the things we've defined. So yes, religion plays a part in my music, much like other shit that I find fundamentally damaging.
DD: You recently said that 'if you play politics with music you are simply a piece of shit'. Can you clarify what you meant? What's your stance on the state of the music industry today?
Lorn: It doesn't need clarification. I think it's very easy to misunderstand 'the music industry', so I haven't bothered to try understanding it to begin with. It must be an illusion; too many moving parts for something that cannot be quantified...music...art...personality. As far as being outside of it, other people say that shit. I make music because I love to. I am grateful for people who take the plunge with me, support the music, and for teams/companies like Ninja Tune that believe in that, oversee all the aspects of its release, and share it with whoever is willing. I'll continue to make music until I'm dead, be that with or without a label or listeners, just as I've done before all of this.
DD: Mike Slott is on remix duties for your new single 'Weigh Me Down' - which other artists or labels can you see yourself working with?
Lorn: Mike is a total G and really killed this remix. Took it in a completely different direction in a way only he can do and the more I listen the more it grows on me. As far as other artists I'd like to work with... Gonjasufi, Clark, zombie Stanley Kubrick.
DD: Finally, if you could play anywhere in the world, to whoever you wanted, where/who would it be and why?
Lorn: I'd like to play a mellotron in some overgrown auditorium to 10,000 empty wine bottles, maybe a few boxes of Franzia. Someday...
Text by Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura
Lorn - Weigh Me Down (Mike Slott Remix)