Its convenient that after creating some of the strangest/most unique songs we’ve heard this year NZCA/LINES has also provided us with our strangest/most unique interview. Read on to hear about the mysteries of the Peruvian plains, copulating couples and, of the course, the upcoming Lp:
Hey Nzca/Lines, starting at the top who are you and how did the project start?
NZCA/LINES is the music of me, Michael Lovett, although live we’re a 3-piece band. The project essentially came together when I was living with Charlie Alex March, who produced the record. We were living in Homerton – geography aside, it’s basically the West Coast of London. The sun always shines. Eventually the poolside vibes became too much, and we had to make an RnB record.
The Nazca Lines are an ancient series of geoglyphs in Peru, where a thin layer of surface rock has been scraped away to reveal the lighter earth beneath – this simple technique allowing people to ‘draw’ huge images only visible from the air. So there are simultaneously two landscapes happening, as from ground level it is impossible to detect the drawings, whilst from the air the terrain assumes a radically different character. This idea inspired the over-arching narrative of the NZCA/LINES record. Every track relates to New Magnetic North, an alternate set of magnetic poles that are continually shifting. Like these Peruvian plains revealing their secrets from the air, cities and places are defined by where the compass points at any given moment. It seemed appropriate to name the project directly after them – which, initially, it was. The spelling change came later, in order to differentiate it and allow people to find the project easily online. I’ve seen a blog refer to this as a ‘trendy’ name change – i’d people to think this. Rest assured, it is purely functional (although to be honest, I do prefer it now).
What/who are your main creative influences? (Musically and otherwise)
I’ve mentioned Aaliyah before, and I will do now. Her vocal style is unparalleled and more or less unmatchable. You’re certainly not going to mistake any of the vocals on this record for Aaliyah samples, but hearing acapallas of hers was a big inspiration. Actually, it’s pretty depressing looking back and comparing my vocals to hers. But hey, I mean, maybe I can catch up .. how old was she when she died? .. 22? Oh, shit. Commercial pop and RnB is a big influence – obviously there’s an overwhelming volume of pop music out there, but the cream of it is incredible, it’s perfect music. I’m thinking of the heights of Rihanna, Ciara, Beyonce. Obviously that’s not news to anyone, because they’re superstars, but it has to be mentioned. Lots of instrumental electronic music influenced this record too, people like DMX Krew, Drexciya and Ovuca – especially production-wise. Recently i’ve been enjoying Sa-Ra and Tyler The Creator.
The first few tracks you’ve released into the wild have been pretty unique lyrically and musically, did the tracks start off with this almost otherworldly vibe or did that come about in production?
Thematically, the music has had a concept right from the start, because that’s how I write. It’s got to have a narrative behind it. But Charlie’s production has definitely cemented these ideas and brought them out in ways I couldn’t have imagined before. Rather than being a straightforward demo-to-studio process there has been lots of back and forth between us, to find the right way things should sound, and new material responding to that. It’s been a long, deep journey inside myself. Often it’s seemed like there was no light at the end of tunnel. At those points it’s been dark. And cold. Very cold.
I’ve heard talk about an upcoming debut, any collaborations or other excitements planned?
There is indeed a debut. It’s called (wait for it) NZCA/LINES, and it’s released on LOAF recordings in January 2012. There’s going to be a couple of mixtapes floating around over the next few weeks too, on the internet, you know the one. I’ve got a 7” single coming out in Japan at the end of this month, on Big Love – they’re amazing. You can pre-order that now I think. Most excitingly, i’ve just started playing live. I’m also working on an automated music project, Messier, with Charlie Alex March, which is also pretty exciting. I spend much of my time being excited.
When you write your tracks is there any scene you have in mind for where / when/ by who they’ll be played?
When I write my tracks I generally try to imagine a small hotel – it might be in Los Angeles, it might be in Kent. In each of the rooms is a couple having an illicit affair, and they are listening to one song. If i’m working on a record, the number of rooms changes accordingly – for this record it was 1-10, but for a double album it would be 1-32, or 1-64 for a 4-disc set. Basically I just work on the music until each of the couples is having sex to each of the songs. I know the record is finished when all the partners of all the couples arrive and start kicking in the doors.
Cheers for your help, last of all when can we expect to hear more, live or recorded, from Nzca/lines?
The best way to hear more of NZCA/LINES is to come see a show – the next one is at the Macbeth in Hoxton on October 24th, then i’m supporting The Chap at White Heat on Nov 8th. LOAF are releasing another single just before the record, around Dec/Jan. As I said, there will mixtapes up and about which you will also find on my website. There will be other bits and pieces coming out before the next single though, so keep your eyes on the prize! That’s what i’ll be doing, anyhow.
If you like what you hear head down to check out a NZCA/LINES show some time, and check back here or over at their website for updates on the Lp, singles and everything else.