British couple Farrah- and Richard West are driven League Of Lights. The Indie/Pop-Rock duo this year released their third full length album “Dreamers Don’t Come Down”. It’s a top notch production characterized by low, resonating bass lines, elevating choruses, delicate piano arrangements and sensual, female vocals. This band released a refreshing Pop album featuring a few great songs. Richard West answered a few questions to give us more info about this great work.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: How did you set up League Of Lights and what makes the artistic chemistry between the both of you?
Richard: We started making music together as soon as we became a couple over twenty years ago. For the first few years we were a Pop-Rock duo working under the name of FARRAH WEST. We recorded quite a few demos, but nothing ever came of them so we decided to form a band and do something a bit heavier. The result was our debut “League Of Lights”-album in 2011 featuring guitarist Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation), drummer Mark Zonder (Fates Warning) and bassist Jerry Meehan (Roxy Music).
It was quite a departure from the music we’d been making up until then, so over our next two albums we naturally found ourselves leaning more towards being a duo again and reverting to our Pop-Rock sound. We still use a full band for live shows, but in the studio it’s mostly just Farrah and me. We both have very different musical backgrounds, but we found a sound where we meet in the middle, a sort of retro-futuristic art Pop-Rock sound with a strong focus on piano and vocals.
Q: Your new album “Dreamers Don’t Come Down” has been partly written and recorded during Covid-19 and the lockdown so what has been the influence and impact on the different aspects of the production?
Richard: During that first Covid-19 lockdown we were pretty much confined to our house, so it was the perfect opportunity to record a third album. We were supposed to be promoting our second one “In The In Between” at the time, but as nobody was allowed to go to any live shows we had to abandon those plans. We made the “Dreamers Don’t Come Down”-album very quickly by our standards, we started in March 2020 and had the whole thing written, recorded and mixed by August 2020. As a result it felt a lot more focussed than “In The In Between”, which took almost five years to make.
Q: I read you wanted this album more ‘piano-driven’ and with less synths than previous productions. Where does this evolution come from and what does it say about previous releases, self-criticism and perfectionism?
Richard: I think it was partly a reaction to the broader palette of our second album “In The In Between”. The early songs we wrote for that record were heavier and more guitar-driven, but as time went on our writing morphed towards something softer and more keyboard-focussed as we moved slowly back towards our original pop-rock sound. As a result, “In The In Between” was a more eclectic record, more of a five-year anthology than a traditional album.
So for “Dreamers Don’t Come Down” we wanted to re-invent ourselves, focusing on the core of what we are, which is piano and vocal, and build our new sound from the ground up. There are still lots of guitars and synths in there, but in a more modern and minimalist way. We love our previous releases, but we don’t want to keep making the same album.
Q: It seems that during the writing of the album the songs were just flowing. Does it mean you didn’t face major problems and eventually challenges or aspects you weren’t satisfied about? And are there some aspects of the global production you would change today?
Richard: The flow was wonderful, every three weeks we had a new song written, recorded, produced and mixed. There was just one song we didn’t use, a track called “Me And My Memories”, which just felt a little different to the others so we left it out. We still love it so we’ll probably release it as a bonus track or a B-side one day, but it just wasn’t right for the album. But we didn’t face any major problems, we found our sound right from the first mix, which was “Modern Living” back in March 2020, and that established our sound and production ethos for the whole record.
Q: The lyrical content seems to be very important. It feels like a kind of observation and critical perception, sometimes with metaphors about life and reality, but still featuring melancholia. What did you try to express and how personal are the lyrics?
Richard: We wanted the whole album to have a consistent feeling. Farrah’s been quoted as saying that it’s about the past, the present and the future; about taking the best from all that you have been through, the pressures of modern life and keeping your dreams alive in dark times. So that includes melancholy alongside hope; sadness and frustration alongside happiness and optimism. I suspect it probably captures what a lot of us are going through at the moment.
Q: Several singles and videos have been already released. That’s an interesting item because I hear several label owners affirming singles are the future, people no longer listening to albums, preferring streaming platforms to make their own playlists. What do you think about it and how do you expect things evolving?
Richard: It felt like one of those albums where we could have released most of the songs as singles. I’ve grown up compiling mix tapes, compilation CDs and playlists to listen to when I’m out and about. I still love to do that so I totally understand the appeal, and hopefully our songs will end up on plenty of people’s playlists too. But ultimately “Dreamers Don’t Come Down” was made to be a complete album, so I hope people will listen to it that way. Not to mention it sounds absolutely gorgeous on vinyl!