Lara Jones is a London-based experimental saxophonist and Fig is her new EP release. Five tracks that mix electronics, a collage of sounds and EDM with sensuality to offer a powerhouse of giddy arpeggios, flowing rivers of crunchy and effervescent bubbles, pinched synths and blown-up drum sounds.
The title track takes as its source a field recording of a conversation between Jones and her wife in the shower where you hear the line “queer love, it’s just love you know”. It sets up a feeling of intimacy that pervades all but the last track on the EP and, deliberate or not, there is a glorious sense of being placed in the middle of the euphoria rather than making a voyeur out of the listener. Even the simple one-word titles of ‘Fig’, ‘Touch’, ‘Look’, and ‘Scissors’ bring another layer to the sense of eroticism.
Similar to the way Photoshop layers work, this EP melds experimental music and dance to great effect, never just overlaying but allowing them to interact and become a magnificent fusion. ‘Touch’ demonstrates solid beats pounding along while arpeggios fly in from all angles like electronic insects. After a plaintive piano intro ‘Look’ is a 4-on-the-floor trance with the hypnotic vocal mantra of “I want to look like a girl who looks like a boy, wearing the dress”. ‘Scissors’ (video below) is the most overtly sexual track which “utilises vocal samples that give expression to the euphoria of eros love and queer intimacy”. The use of a simple keyboard part feels like the beating heart of love at the centre of the torrent of feelings that explode during sex.
The final track ‘Absence’ is a sad coda to the preceding euphoria; a sense of musical exorcism born out of the sadness Jones felt about her father not showing up to her wedding. There are bursts of conflicting sounds, brooding swells of synthesiser, sawtooth screams and frenetic drums raining down. It’s as if Lara is fighting to get out of the emotional maelstrom and back to the safe haven of her loving relationship. This is more easily done for us as we just need to hit play on ‘Fig’ and get swept up once again in love’s rapture.
Lara Jones was kind enough to answer some questions about the EP, and more, for Joyzine:
JZ: Fig has done really well, with so many compliments from fans, blogs, radio stations. Why do you think it’s struck a chord with people?
LJ: Ahh thank you! I’m not too sure! I think perhaps the directness of the words I speak in it – it’s pretty honest and I guess people relate to the idea that there should be more songs about queer love?
JZ: The combination of your experimental side with EDM power works so well. How did you approach putting the tracks together for this EP?
LJ: A lot of this EP was drafted about year and a half ago when I was preparing a new live show. A lot of it came from wanting more high energy tunes in my set to match some of the other high intensity stuff I released on my EP ‘Flow’ – the rest of my set previously was more ambient and jazz orientated which I guess I was kinda naturally moving away from.. or I suppose expanding on I guess. I got to a point where I thought the tunes were pretty good and I’d played them live a few times but as I was mixing them I kinda knew I could go further and push it all a bit harder so I went back into the stems and essentially remixed al the tunes until eventually I ended up with ‘Fig’ and decided it was time to let the tunes go…
JZ: The focus on queer love and identity has been writ large in these tracks, something you said you wanted to be bolder about. I love the joy contained in the tracks but had you intended to challenge listener’s perceptions as much as celebrate queer sexuality?
LJ: I didn’t really think about how the audience was going to perceive it- when I write it usually comes from something I’ve improvised and then I go back and rework so I guess the essence of my tunes just kinda happen in the moment. I knew personally I was in a place where I was comfortable in sharing my queerness and be bold with it but I guess ultimately I was hoping to reach and connect with my queer community and thought less about the people that would find it challenging!
JZ: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be and why?
LJ: Fairer treatment of women, LGBTQIA people and POC because we do still have some way to go.
If you could collaborate with any artist, past or present, who would it be and what would you work on together?
LJ: Ahh a v hard question! There are so many artists I’m inspired by and I know I could learn a lot from. I think the best musical experiences for me are those where I’m slightly outside my comfort zone, playing with people who I know have so much to offer to the world. I’d love to work with Kelly Lee Owens – I think she’s writing really interesting music and I love the way she writes instrumentals and other times with voice.
Ultimately though, I would have to pick SOPHIE – she was just on a different level. There’s nobody like SOPHIE and there never will be and I just can never get enough of her music. That’s the dream person. I hope we can meet in another life someday.
JZ: Who are you currently listening to and think the Joyzine readers should checkout?
LJ: Ahhh the hardest question! I listen to a lot of music!
I was recently supported by an artist called Sonia Killmann and I was really impressed with her ability to blend electronics and saxophone, especially for a live performance, it was so seamless and appeared natural and effortless which is something you don’t always get with an acoustic instrument mixed with electronics.
I also have to shout out Faye MacCalman, she’s got an awesome trio called Archipelago and she’s also working on some beautiful solo music – experimental songwriting with looping hypnotic melodies – I’ve had some sneak listens on the tunes and it’s super worth looking out for and going to see a show of. She’s amazing.
Aside from that obviously the new Loraine James track ‘2003’, always listening to Loraine James to be honest and I’ve re-entered my 2012 James Blake obsession alongside vibing off basically everything i.Jordan does.
JZ: If you could give any aspiring musicians one piece of advice, what would it be?
LJ: Make what YOU wanna make, not what you think you should be making or making stuff to please anybody else, dig into what you wanna say with your music and through that you’ll find a sound… once you’ve found it, be open to it changing, evolving and expanding. You’re not bound to anything. Just be open to learning as much as you can … the journey is ongoing.
Lara Jones on tour:
22.06 – London @ Bardona presented by Baba Yaga Hut
08.07 – Birmingham Mostly Jazz Festival
29.07 – Coventry @ Just Dropped In Records presented by Sink or Swim Promotions
More dates to be announced
Review by Paul F Cook