Beaches’ Singularities Explained:
Lucky Beaches Interview
With excellent new EP ‘My Singularities’ just released,
Lucky Beaches mainman Luke Muscatelli talks to about the new record, film-making and Alistair Crowley.
The notion of bands decamping to rural climes to ‘get our heads
together in the country man’, an activity hugely popular in the
late sixties-early seventies (most famously by Led Zeppelin who decamped
to the Welsh hills to record their largely acoustic third LP) has been
bested by Lucky Beaches mainman Luke Muscatelli.
Venturing far beyond these shores, his current base of operations is
on a ranch just outside Miami, Florida. Away from the UK, the warm climate
and relaxed pace is aiding the creative process no end.
With superb second EP My Singularities currently
up on iTunes and a CD release to follow soon, the disc’s five tracks
see a broadening of the Beaches’ sound palate. The now recognisable
Muscatelli hallmarks are all present and correct, the Prince inspired
synth-bass, lo-fi percussion and Lennon referencing vocals now feature
an additional electronic undertow.
Brilliantly pulling off the trick of advancing his sound without ditching
what made it so special in the first place, the new set offers scores
of new routes for Lucky Beaches to take, providing vast proof that experimentation
and pop music do not have to be mutually exclusive.
‘I wrote a new single as soon as we got out here, ‘AWOL Soldier’
Luke says of his new found inspiration in different surroundings. ‘I’ve
been writing words more so than songs at the moment.’ Soaking up
the music of the Southern States, New Orleans hip-hop auteur Lil Wayne
has been on the sound system constantly at the ranch.
After investing his royalties from playing on Pop Levi’s records
in recording equipment and a period of intense work recently, the changes
in production on EP 2.0 are manifest. ‘I’m not sure if I know
the gear better or if I'm just less-scared of knowing it all’ Luke
explains. ‘Like the guy who flukes it because he's hung-over. But
I probably do simply know more about what I'm doing. As I get better I
can do more shit.’
‘I love the way it's becoming really easy to do old school big
deals on plug-ins (computer software) now’ he continues. ‘I’m
getting into mixing real instrumentation and synths. Equally if I knew
a load of musicians out here I'd love to record some live stuff, there’s
nobody out here though that I know of!’
‘Nobodies Gonna Love No More’ exemplifies the cross-pollination
between acoustic and electronic superbly, largely revolving around a two-chord
guitar riff, samples and tumbling drum-machine rhythms.
Assembled around a framework of vocal harmonies and Hawaiian guitar,
‘Promise to Be True’ continues the summery vibe of ‘Jenny
Mo’ from the first EP, effortlessly evoking Florida’s sunny
climes. An impressive feat considering the track was recorded during a
rainy December in Walton, Liverpool. Elsewhere, ‘Ease My Worried
Mind’ and ‘The Way Things Used to Be’ are equally as
valuable, the former a live favourite and the latter a New Wave-esque
slab of Blondie-pop.
While EPs have seen a revival in recent years as a platform well-suited
to showcasing new bands’ material, the future of the album is still
under discussed. The seemingly endless debate over the future of the format
in the era of downloading is now over a decade old and showing no signs
of abating. Inadvertently or otherwise, Lucky Beaches’ have made
their own contribution to the conversation.
‘The LP is fictional, it never happened’ Luke explains of
the first Lucky Beaches’ album. ‘If you make a playlist and
combine all three releases so far in order of release you've got a 12
track LP, corresponding with the first EPs title Prelude
to My First Pop Record. It’s weird, but okay in this day
and age I figure. The track list is the right order’
LP could be called My
Singularities as it's the icing on the cake in the series’
Luke ruminates. ‘Group Hallucination’ and (B-Side) ‘Half
Me, Half You’ sit in between both EP's as an interval. The LP will
only exist if you make the playlist of all recent ‘Beaches releases,
otherwise it’s scattered amongst three releases over one year you
‘One day I'll press 1000 copies on vinyl with all 12 tracks on
it and sell them from home. Unless I get signed by Sony and get to make
a massive first record in a studio with helping hands and dirty dollars!’
‘My plan is to be signed to a bigger label with some backing then
put all the best stuff out as my first record’ he continues. ‘Maybe
one more EP before that happens. If we ever got (record company) backing
I would have the lads (‘Beaches band members Mike, Ben and Tom)
come out here to the ranch to record in a second’ Luke says. ‘I’m
gonna get us together and build a studio like (Lee ‘Scratch’
Perry’s) The Black Ark. That’s my dream. I’m gonna make
music for the children of the New Aeon!’ he enthuses.
A deep well of inspiration drawn from for the new songs is Luke’s
and society in general’s love/hate relationship with the medium
this article is being transmitted via, the Internet. The cover of previous
single, aforementioned pop gem ‘Group Hallucination’ shows
Luke’s face sceptically staring back from a computer screen.
‘It's probably the worst thing that’s ever happened to me!’
Luke says of Tim Berners-Lee’s invention. ‘It's exciting to
live in a time when the crazy films kind of came true. I can't imagine
kids knocking for each other these days without texting beforehand. I
feel like it just stereotyped the world and a huge part of myself went
The cover to My Singularities takes things
further, with an image of Luke in a mask with a distorted image on it,
as though he has become trapped inside the computer screen. ‘System
Overload’, consisting of disembodied wails and industrial sounding
drumbeats seemingly purloined from The Terminator
soundtrack is the most directly Luke has written on the subject, the modern
malaise of too much information.
‘It's the opposite to mystery in a night club, or a fashion from
overseas it's the opposite to a movie star, or a pop sensation, but it's
so fucking addictive. Like smack for the imagination!’ the songwriter
says. ‘The internet got in the way of everything, its just pictures
sent and posted on walls now.’
‘The more responsibility we give this immense machine the less
we have to 'think', at least the same way we've been doing for a long
time’ he continues. ‘I feel like the modern world is squeezing
certain instincts out of me for the better of 'the machine' whether I
like it or not’ Luke states.
The EPs title nods to another treasured influence, science-fiction writer
Terrence McKenna, who propagated the theory that there will eventually
be a time when evolution effectively stops. Termed ‘The Singularity’,
defined as ‘a theoretical point in the development of a technological
civilization’, the concept has been in sci-fi circles for decades.
‘The theory’s been round for years, McKenna talks about 'time
wave zero', where basically after the big bang, everything stops expanding
and starts sucking back up’ Luke explains. ‘I’m not
a scientist but I feel something speeding up and I know others do and
I was hearing about it in weird places before I started seeing it on high
streets! That shit only confirms my suspicions now it’s on sale
in Waterstone’s bestseller shelves!’ he laughs.
Talking of books, much of Luke’s time outside of music at present
is taken up with completion of his debut novel $terling
$ilver Gets Rich. As well as being serialised by Liverpool promoters/think
tank/art-space curators Milk: Presents in their imminent magazine Life
Sentence, a limited run of book editions is also planned with the
novel available from Lucky Beaches’ .
‘I’ve been printing and editing $terling,
it’s looking good, I’m gonna have it finished soon’
Luke says. ‘Jenny (Luke’s wife) is gonna sew it together,
she’s a great seamstress, we've made a practice copy on cotton paper.’
The novel, described by Luke as ‘a fucking trip’, has had
a lengthy gestation. Written largely while touring with Pop Levi at various
locations around the world, completion of the tome was a profound relief
to the writer. ‘Four years in the making, I finished reading it
before and cried I'm so happy to have it out there!’ Luke says.
On the subject of literary influences, the long departed (from this world
at any rate) English occultist Aleister Crowley is Luke’s current
author of choice. The founder of religious philosophy Thelema gained adherents
including avant garde film-maker Kenneth Anger and scores of several musicians
including David Bowie and Jimmy Page. ‘I've been heading towards
reading this guy for years from meeting Johnny (Pop Levi) and people in
LA’ Luke explains. ‘Now when I read it makes so much sense,
I love his style.’
As for what comes next, like a chess grandmaster who has the next series
of moves plotted out before any of the present ones have been made, Luke
has the rest of the year mapped out. A forthcoming appearance on independent
British feature Cassette is first up, directed
by newcomer David Paul Irons.
The songs featured in the film are by side-project H.s.M. the collaboration
between Luke and Jenny. An outlet for vicious garage rock that doesn’t
fit into Lucky Beaches’ oeuvre, the brilliant, snarling ‘Is
This the Only Way Out?’ and ‘It’s Real’ are driven
by demented Jack White vocals and berserk axe work which sounds as though
the guitars are being played with forks instead of plectrums.
The_Myst meanwhile is another project fast approaching completion, the
spoken word lyrics and ambient sound textures another swerve into uncharted
territory for the songwriter.
‘I’ve got the Cassette soundtrack
for summer and The_Myst album for the end of year’ Luke says. ‘I’ve
got so much going on I’m never gonna be bored. Now I’ve finished
$terling I’ve started new stuff. I’ve
edited a music video I filmed for Pop Levi in Liverpool, I’m shooting
‘System Overload's’ video here too.’
Beyond even all that is the third installment of surreal roadfilms/documentaries
begun by You Don’t Gotta Run and continued
with Bankrupt. A strange, compelling account
of Pop Levi’s world tour from late last decade, like Lucky Beaches’
musical output, the three segments are intended to be parts of a single
whole. When brought together, each of the 37 minute films combine to make
a movie just short of two hours. ‘I've done loads now, three 37
min ones’ Luke explains. ‘When I’ve finished Speedboat
(third in the trilogy) I’ve got lots of filmettes I’m working
on, I’ve already got about 80 out there.’
A project began in 2007, the short films include pieces ranging from
silent animation, with the Tintin-referrencing Explorers
on the Moon, to the impressionistic Hollywood poolside ambience
of Les Fleurs et les Filles on to Get
on the Kex, which documents Luke’s bewildered reaction to
a hipster’s unfortunate choice of trouserwear in downtown LA.
With the new EPs title forecasting the future, what musical developments
would Lucky Beaches like to see on the horizon? ‘I hope more people
start making their own music about their own lives’ Luke offers.
‘I think more people should make bedroom muzak it'll create a good
bed or template for music to thrive on again.’
A daunting schedule of releases to maintain then, but if progress continues
at the same rapid rate, Lucky Beaches will succeed in making even Prince’s
early 1980s output look protracted.
Lucky Beaches EP 2.0 My Singularities (Girl
Records) is out now on iTunes