Interview by Miriam Cadoni
South African singer Heike Langhans is one of a kind artist. She’s involved in different projects. And in each of them, it feels like she donates a little fragment of her soul. Together with Sojourner‘s Mike Lamb and Scotty Lodge, she found Light Field Reverie.
Consequently, the band signed to Italy’s Avantgarde Music and published their self-titled LP. What it follows here an Interview with Heike Langhans and Mike Lamb.
Hi Heike and Mike, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you and how life is treating you in these precarious days?
Heike: We keep on keeping on, as they say. It feels like joint-creativity, family and gaming is the only thing allowing us to cope in these times. The uncertainty of the borders opening and bureaucracy has caused some sleepless nights for us. But I’m grateful to be going through it with a partner who understands and shares the same end-goals.
Mike: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, and life is going okay on the whole! But we’re both a little distressed by the fact that we can’t be together in the same place right now. We’re just working hard to get back together. Due to a series of unfortunate visa-related events, we had to travel to our respective homes for a little while. Obviously COVID has put a massive dampener on everybody’s lives too, but that goes without saying these days.
Back in December 2020, you have released your début album “Another World” via Italy’s Avantgarde Music. What would you like to share about its general production? When did you start to collect the first ideas for it?
Mike: Heike and I talked about doing music together for a long time, ever since Sojourner toured with Draconian in January 2019. Over the year following the tour both of our lives changed a lot, and we ended up together in Sweden. As soon as we were together in the same place, things happened very fast. We wrote “Ultraviolet” over a matter of days. We got Scotty onboard to do bass so we became a three-piece. Then, wespent the following months writing and recording the remainder of the songs on the album.
Heike and I just work together so effortlessly, and the songs take shape in a really inspiring way. We absolutely inspire the best in each other. Production-wise we write together, I act as producer as well so we record it at my home studio. And once it’s all done, we get Scotty to lay down his excellent bass work. Then he sends me his raw DI file and I process it into the final tone. What’s then mix and master the songs.
Considering the well-earned reputation earned by Avantgarde Music in the metal panorama. How this collaboration has started and so far, is it going?
Mike: My band Sojourner signed with Avantgarde Music back in 2015, so we’ve got a good relationship with owner Roberto, and it was just such an honor to come back and work with him for Light Field Reverie. Both Roberto and Andrea are just amazing people. And, they look after their bands, which is an increasingly rare trait in the music industry these days.
Heike: My previous project ISON licensed some releases to Avantgarde and I was always pleasantly surprised at their approach to doing business. It ‘s clear they have a passion for music more than anything. Indeed, they really make generous efforts when they believe in something. We’re definitely not their usual genre, but I think they personally enjoyed our prior work enough to sign us after just one listen to a very early demo.
The LP’s title is quite effective but also quite important. To what “Another World” refers to and how does it connect with the whole mood of the album?
Heike: The most direct reference belongs to the game by the same title. We loved the concept and artwork, as well as the feelings it evokes. Generally, we are greatly inspired by escapism and otherworldly concepts in books, films and games. Mike and I share a massive fascination with space and the unknown. So, the very idea of another world allows the imagination to be boundless.
There is no shortage of ideas and never enough hours in the day to nerd out over it together! Each song on the album takes place in a space unfamiliar to our reality. Though the last track pertains to literal reality, it was written in a way that has a double meaning. And, it can be interpreted from the point of view of having returned from a journey to another world. Also, in a more figurative sense as well.
The album was introduced by two singles “Ultraviolet” and “The Other House”. Which lyrical insights can disclose about these songs?
Heike: I tend to write most of my lyrics with an ‘in between the lines’ story, which I usually don’t ever disclose. I want listeners to relate to and interpret lyrics in a way that is personal and relevant to themselves. Writing is an outlet for healing. And I tend to think the listener heals through finding their own meaning in what they hear as well. However, what I will say about “Ultraviolet”, is that it’s a love-story that should inspire people to follow their hearts. No matter how far away and hard the road ahead may seem. The violet fire that burns in us is all-powerful.
“The Oldest House” and its lyrical content is a direct tribute to the stunning Finnish game Control. We loved playing it together so much, we played it twice and talked about it for ages. “The Oldest House” is also known as the Federal Bureau of Control. Indeed, it’s a holding and investigating facility for mysterious and strange acting objects. And, often it’s born from the superstition of the human mind.
In this building, an unexplainable phenomenon and a hissing resonance starts to occur. It happens the astral that bleeds over into reality and becomes corrupted and shifts. One woman with a particular gift or internal guiding force becomes the new director. Without giving away spoilers for those who have yet to play this stunning game, she has to navigate. And solve this mystery and the same time, find the source of this entity guiding her.
Taking into account the current worldwide situation, on which extent the pandemic impacted on the band both logistically and recording-wise?
Mike: Luckily I have a complete home recording studio, and since that’s basically the home base for the band, nothing is affected in the end. As long as I’m in my studio, and Heike can record her vocals and Scotty can play bass at his house, it’s incredibly easy.
Heike and I have a really efficient and effective setup for writing together. So, nothing really stands in the way of that. Essentially, as long as I have access to my studio the album can be made in its entirety.
Heike: If anything, I’d say the pandemic helped the writing and recording process immensely, because self-isolating and working from home meant that every possible spare minute of the day that would otherwise be spent travelling to work or going on lunch breaks, we spent writing, discussing and recording.
While the world out there seemed a place to avoid, inside we had a blast. And, we have appreciated the extra time to do what we love most. Even now that we are temporarily in different locations, we are relatively content to share ideas and work in isolation.
You are both members of esteemed bands such as Draconian and Sojourner. How has your current musical experiences influenced Light Field Reverie?
Heike: I would actually say that LFR is an entire escape from every other band or project I’ve been involved in. For me, there is more direct involvement in the artistic process in this band. Naturally, this is where the most satisfying experience actually takes place.
I have a passion for writing odd melodies. And expressing everything as it comes from inside with great emotional drive and no guidance or pre-existing expectations. Well, having a platform like this that allows me to do whatever I want influences everything else. Due to the fact that I have the opportunity to display different sides. And also, more of the electronic elements I love so much.
Mike: Sojourner hasn’t really had any influence on Light Field Reverie I wouldn’t say. Obviously with almost 6 years of experience with Sojourner, I’ve learned a lot both as a musician and recording engineer. But, in terms of actual writing and informing the style of Light Field Reverie I don’t think there’s any crossover. If anything, LFR has just let me be completely unbridled to express all these other sides of my musical interests. While for Sojourner I’ve written three albums with a very specific sound focused on the atmospheric Black Metal genre.
In the first place, you feel obliged to never really waver too much from the style that brought you success. The biggest way the bands influenced each other would be that I choose to approach guitars in LFR as a supporting instrument, as opposed to in Sojourner where I wrote everything to be very guitar based, so by avoiding too much showy lead work and focusing mostly on rhythms and using the guitar as a backbone to the synths and piano work I kind of keep the bands in two very different realms.
I’m just as drawn to the synth and piano side as I am to guitar. So, I’m really happy to have this platform with LFR. This musical project allows me to be completely unbridled to write whatever we want without any borders or artificial constraints. I don’t think we’ll ever create the same album twice with LFR. Knowing that, I find that prospect incredibly liberating as a musician and engineer.
Also, which is the common ground (or better, which are the interests) that unites both you, Mike and Scotty?
Mike: We’re all huge fans of video games, films, nostalgia, 80s/90s pop culture and music, and we’re all very much on the same page about the visual side of the band which is incredibly important to us. We just all love laughing and having fun hanging out together. Even if it’s just on Skype or in the band chat.
What the future holds for Light Field Reverie?
Mike: We’ve got a new album underway with a whole new theme and approach both in terms of audio and visuals, and I’m just incredibly excited about where it’s going. The whole thing is more unified and more purposeful in its presentation than what we’ve done so far. I’ve been most excited and proud to work on out of anything I’ve ever done before. As I said, we’ll always have the heart and soul of LFR there. But at the same time we’re never going to make the exact same album twice.
Heike: Where “Another World” was full of variety and different styles depending on the theme of the song, we decided to hone in on a concept for the next release and streamline a specific visual into music.
From the ideas we’ve shared thus far, there is already an underlying atmosphere that is so emotive and organic. We’re so eager to get another release done. However, we have to hold ourselves back so as to not bombard you all.
So, Heike and Mike, we’re almost at the end. Please be free to say hi to your fans and your readers. Thank you so much for this interview.
Both: We’re beyond grateful for the responses and support upon our debut album. Be safe, stay tuned for more and thank you for taking the time to conduct or read this interview!