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Sara Lov's going solo, and loving it -- mostly

January 20, 2009 |  8:30 am
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Sara Lov wanted to know if the audience was ready for some gangsta rap.

The singer-songwriter confided that’s what she’s “really good at” to last Tuesday's Spaceland crowd, and then eased into her set of carefully crafted, enchantingly ethereal pop songs. Lov, one half of the L.A. dream-pop band the Devics, has been playing a Tuesday night residency at the Silver Lake institution all this month, giving you two more times to catch her.

The series of shows has been in support of her first solo EP, "The Young Eyes," which gets an official retail release today (Jan. 20). It's already available to Web outlets such as iTunes and Amazon.com and is a preview for her full-length, "Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming," due in March (both on Nettwerk).

Her solo work is already showing signs of making Lov a known entity beyond the local scene. Fans of Fox series "Bones" may be familiar with her song “Fountain," which was featured prominently in an episode (there are enough questions about it on Yahoo! Answers to serve as evidence of the song’s impact), and her smoky, piano-driven cover of the Arcade Fire’s “My Body Is a Cage” has found its way all over the blogosphere.

   

On stage with her producer Zac Rae (Gnarls Barkley, Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette) and the rest of her small but polished backing band -- the same team that also played on her record -- Lov serves up an album-quality live show, bringing a hint of ambience to piano-heavy reveries.

She answers a few questions below.

You did a residency at Tangier last April. Are residencies something you gravitate toward?

Yeah. The last year with my band, Devics, we spent a lot of time touring and I like the idea of playing more than just one show. It feels better to me. I feel like I play better and the band plays better when you do a group of shows, rather than just one here and one there. That’s why, if I’m going to play in L.A., I love the idea of making it a [residency].

What are the differences so far between being in a band and going solo?

It’s definitely a totally new experience, and it’s a lot more challenging to me, because I’m used to doing everything with Dustin [O’Halloran of Devics], so for me to come up with all the music and the lyrics as opposed to just the lyrics and the melodies is a lot more challenging. But I enjoy the challenge. I found that I’m not as prolific when I’m writing on my own. If I have another person there to work off of, I do a lot more work.

Besides singing, did you play anything on the record?

Yeah. I played guitar and a little bit of toy piano and moog. I tinkered around, but I’m really not a musician -- I’m a singer and I’m really clear about that. I play guitar enough to write the songs and get the bare bones of the structure down, but I really need a great musician to help me pull it off live or recorded. I’m good at the singing part and I have to catch up with everything else — I haven’t been doing it as long.

What's the meaning behind the two titles -- "The Young Eyes" and "Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming"?

The album to me is about the challenge of holding onto your idealism after you lose your innocence. As you get older, it’s harder to find the beauty and the excitement and that amazing feeling you have when you’re young and you look out at the world and you’re intrigued so easily. It’s about finding the things that make you feel that way through seasoned eyes.  It’s almost impossible it seems to see the world again through young eyes, but when you can, it’s a gift.

There are two covers on “The Young Eyes” EP -- Arcade Fire’s “My Body is a Cage” and Beck’s “Timebomb”-- why did you choose them?

The Arcade Fire song: I wanted to pick a song that I loved and I absolutely love that song.  And then the Beck one, “Timebomb,” was almost kind of a mistake. Zac Rae and I know a bunch of the people in Beck’s band, and we were talking about how they were about to go on tour and he started playing “Timebomb” on the guitar and I started singing. Just messing around. But it was so fun and so weird and so different than the actual song that we decided we had to do it. That one was sort of a happy accident.

How would you compare your solo work to what you’ve done previously?

It’s hard to compare, because in my mind, it’s not that different. As far as the actual lyrics and subject matter, that’s been the same for me after all these years. I just write whatever comes to me, working out whatever is in my head and heart. The only real change is that I’m on my own now and all the musical decisions and the business decisions -- everything -- is up to me. I don’t have anyone to ask, ‘What do you think?’ It’s kind of scary having all the responsibility, but it’s also really liberating, because I never thought I could do it.... I never thought I could write a song without someone else writing the music. Dustin would come up with all the ideas and I’d say, ‘Ooh, I like that.’ I never tried to write on my own, so it’s pretty amazing when you do something that you didn’t think you were able to do.

Do you think you’ll work on new Devics material with Dustin?

We both want to. We talk so much -- we were actually just video iChatting and playing music. I just think right now it’s just a matter of being in the same country long enough to write the songs and record them. We’ve already started working on ideas ... but he’s in Berlin working and I’m doing my solo stuff.  It’s definitely in the back of our minds. On this [solo] record though, he’s still definitely part of it. He wrote and played on several of the songs.

So Tuesday the 20th, you have a show, it’s the release date for your EP, and it’s the inauguration. Big day, huh?

Really? Oh, yeah, the 20th -- duh -- well, we’re going to celebrate! It’s going to be a show and an inauguration party.

--Heather Robertson

Sara Lov at Spaceland, 1717 Silver Lake Blvd. Los Angeles, Jan. 20 and Jan. 27. Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show, 21 and older.

Photo: Nettwerk
 

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