As the anticipation for Lunar Path’s debut EP was kicking in, A&R Factory caught up with the internationally scattered duo to discuss their poetic and philosophical lyrical themes and take on creativity in the digital age as we tried to contain our excitement that bubbled around speaking to the former members of the iconic UK acts, Cold Dance and Skeletal Family.
Fuse is now available to stream across all major platforms. Delve in after reading the story of its conception.
Lunar Paths, welcome back to A&R Factory; we loved getting stuck into the dark ethereal alchemy in your single, Rise; does it set the tone of what is to come via your debut EP?
We were so thrilled with your review of Rise. Thank you! “Lunar Paths made the Bela Lugosi’s Dead of this era with Rise.” I mean, WOW. That blew us away! Rise is one of the five tracks on the EP, Fuse, but does it set the tone? Well, the release of the EP marks the occasion of Lunar Paths’ first birthday, and frankly, we are still in the process of discovering who we are and what our tone is! For sure, all of the tracks hang together really well; they are all driven by the percussion, they all have a fairly atypical song structure and mysterious vocal, and they all use an eclectic array of unusual instruments and distorted samples, so you could say that, with its rolling beat, haunting vocal, gamelan and warped Cretan lyra, Rise is fairly representative of what we do. Two of the tracks on the EP have a faster tempo, and one of these is even a little bit playful, but we do seem to be leaning towards an enigmatic, ethereal, and evocative, atmospheric sound.
Releasing music in 2022 as opposed to when you were together making music in the 80s in the bands Cold Dance and Skeletal Family must be a vastly different experience – before you even consider the distance between your bases in America and Europe. How does it feel to be creatively reunited in the digital age of music?
It’s absolutely wonderful! We have said so many times how, if, back in the day, we had had the digital and virtual gear that we have at our disposal now, we could have done such a lot to realise our musical aspirations, both in terms of recording and playing live. We were early adopters of electronic drums, drum machines and sequencers, and they always created a bit of a stir onstage, but back then, the only bands that could afford the really cutting-edge digital technology had serious financial backing.
Similarly, recording and releasing on vinyl was such a big deal, in terms of time, effort and expense. Planning things to the minute so that you didn’t waste valuable time in the recording studio, there was much less room for experimentation, and it allowed for just a tiny margin of error. Now, it’s possible to take massive creative risks, take your time and really play around with ideas—and, of course, if you want a gamelan, you don’t have to travel all the way to Indonesia! The idea, too, of making videos to accompany and promote the music was beyond the wildest dreams of most bands back then, but now, thanks to platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, it’s something that is within the grasp of pretty much anyone with a smartphone.
The synergy between you is palpable for sure. How would you say you bring the best out in each other creatively?
I don’t think that we have ever responded to each other’s ideas in any way other than positively. That’s not because we are easily pleased, either! We are both incredibly driven, both perfectionists and we each set ourselves very high standards. It helps that we have always been on the same wavelength: though we were not necessarily tuned into the exact same stuff, we are always receptive to new and exciting material.
Chatting to each other for the first time in decades about music, it was astounding to discover how many bands we had developed a common liking for over our years apart. There were also equally large areas of music and culture that remained a complete mystery to one of us while the other had discovered, explored and completely fallen in love with it—but none of it was ever boring. I think that the most important thing is that we are both still very curious, open, receptive and adventurous, when it comes to what we make and what we consume. Because we are so much on the same page, and also so very open to new ideas, working together feels easy.
We never have to explain anything to each other or have lengthy debates about what should happen in a track; one of us brings something to the table, and it’s immediately obvious to the other one why it’s a great idea. Trust plays a huge part in what we do. We are never afraid to share our ideas with each other, plus, because of this mutual trust that we have, we can simply go with an idea, see where it leads us, and it is usually one that works.
What were the biggest challenges of creating music in different continents and different time zones?
Getting some sleep! When one of us is ready to chat, it’s usually four in the morning for the other one, but it’s just all too exciting and too much fun to resist having really lengthy conversations, regardless of the time of day. When you have this compulsion to make music, and you find someone who you so totally gel with creatively, being a bit sleep deprived the next day is such a small price to pay.
Being on different continents wasn’t that big a deal either, as I think a lot of us learned during the pandemic how working together remotely was actually more than possible. At first, we were concerned that, without a shared access to the same DAW, we wouldn’t be able to collaborate at all, but we quickly found ways around that. Wave files fly across the Atlantic at the speed of light, they get imported into a project, the project gets pinged back across the Atlantic, and so on. Finding solutions to the challenges just added to the fun and to the sense of achievement.
Have your music influences stayed the same, or are there contemporary darkwave outfits fuelling your inspiration lately?
Not just darkwave, and not just contemporary; we like a huge amount of wildly disparate stuff, across a range of genres, encompassing music being made today to music dating back hundreds of years. To give you an idea, we like: Avalanches, KLF, Dengue Dengue Dengue, The Creatures, Gang of Four, Boards of Canada, Pixies, Bjork, Killing Joke, Alessandro Striggio, Ministry, First Nation music, Joy Division, Yard Act, Roza Eskenazi, Idles, Skinny Puppy, The Veldt, Portishead, Bob Vylan, Radiohead, Underworld, Sun’s Signature, Chemical Brothers, The Streets, tAngerinecAt, Legendary Pink Dots, Coil, Basil Kirchin, Fred again.., Marxman, Earthlings, She Wants Revenge, Young Gods, NuKreative, The Soft Moon… and that’s just the tip of a massive iceberg. We could go on!
What lyrical themes are explored in the EP?
The name of the EP, Fuse, echoes what Lunar Paths do, bringing different elements together and uniting them, and it also evokes something that triggers an explosion or reaction. It also suggests being driven by an unstoppable and mysterious energy, as in “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower,” from the poem by Dylan Thomas.
Our lyrical themes are diverse overall, but some of the songs on this EP are political—Lunar Paths lean to the left—so Rise evokes a weary person dragging themselves to work every day, self-medicating every night, and asks how long they are prepared to put up with lousy pay and conditions. Dérive was inspired by the writings of the Situationists, who suggested that, instead of going shopping or going to work, setting out on long, purposeless walks through the city that you live in could be a subversive act, especially if you keep your eyes open and think about all that you see.
Alttahilili means ‘lullaby’, and it was the result of seeing harrowing pictures of refugee families shivering in the snow and from the idea that, wherever we come from, we all sing to our children to comfort them. MetaGoth#1 has hardly any lyrics at all, apart from a clip from a 1980s film about the evils of capitalism, along with a Siouxsie-ish refrain, all parts of the song being a playful nod to our post-punk roots. Lo Oa Soa was the result of an experiment to see what would happen if we wrote a fairly conventional song, then learned to sing it backwards! When we discovered that Lo Oa Soa actually means ‘you are dead’ in Sesotho, it appealed to the old goth in us! On every occasion, the music precedes the lyrics. So, for example, the drums in what eventually became Dérive sounded very urban, full of clashing trashcans and gunshots, so we knew that it was going to be about cities. The circling drone of Rise evoked a sense of weary, repeated activity, like a vicious circle, and Alttahilili sounds like the wind on a bitterly cold winter night. MetaGoth#1 is full of sounds from and after the post-punk era, and Lo Oa Soa sounds like a crazy, exciting journey into the unknown.
What’s next for Lunar Paths?
When we started this venture, all that we wanted was to make some music and have people hear it. That’s already happening, but we’d like to make more music and get heard by more people. We’ve been on SoundCloud for several months, where we recently got just under 20,000 streams of our latest track, Shine, and this inspired us to sign up to Distrokid, in the hope that being across all the major streaming platforms will help grow our audience and get us more airplay.
Our immediate plans are to release the rest of our back catalogue, together with some new songs, in the form of another EP in 2023. We both miss live performance, so a live stream could be fun to try. We’ve even talked wistfully about touring, and, though the vast geographical distance between us makes rehearsing tricky (to say the least!), it’s not beyond the realm of the possible. Nothing is. Did either of us ever think, this time last year, that we would be chatting to A&R Factory about our debut EP? Never say never!
Interview by Amelia Vandergast