Adelaide bedroom producer Sione Teumohenga – aka Lonelyspeck – has released a second EP Lave, following a set at Laneway Festival’s Adelaide leg last month.
The record, released through Sydney label TEEF, is spacious, otherworldly and intimate R&B with echoes of How to Dress Well, Oscar Key Sung and Marcus Whale. Teumohenga launches the record locally at Ancient World this weekend.
Broadsheet: You recorded, mixed and mastered the EP yourself (and did the artwork). Tell us about the process.
Sione Teumohenga: I knew from the start that I wanted to do everything. I just feel most confident and natural doing things by myself, especially when I’m trying to express my own vision. The whole time I’ve been recording music I’ve just done it in my room and just learnt everything through experience and trial-and-error and teaching myself what I needed to know, so it’s really the same process as what I’ve always done, I’m just better at it now. I did learn 3D modelling software so I could make the artwork though, which was new.
BS: Your voice and lyrics are much more audible on this record. Did you feel more confident being up front and centre this time around?
ST: I guess I just wanted to be more up front overall. Not necessarily because I felt more confident than before, but just because I know it’s not helpful to hide or filter what I want to say. I wanted to be more direct and vulnerable, in both a musical and lyrical sense.
BS: There's a recurring theme of the physical body in these song titles – “Autopsy”, “Bodily” and “All My Skin on the Air”. What was the inspiration there?
ST: I’m not really sure why but my emotional state at the time just made me keep coming back to that kind of imagery. At times it felt like the only way I could express my feelings accurately was through these metaphors of bodies that were stretching and deforming and opening up. All these things that seem gruesome when I try to explain them, but for me at the time it just felt cleansing. And I think that ties into a wider theme in the songs of accepting your feelings even when they’re ugly and scary, and allowing yourself to express them however you need to.
BS: How does your music translate live?
ST: I primarily use a [Roland] SP-404 sampler that I bought from a pawn shop because I didn’t have a laptop. It’s served me well so far and I also run my guitar through it so I can use it for a large amount of my live set up.
BS: Who are your songwriting heroes?
ST: I was influenced a lot on this EP, especially the song “Bodily” by Yoo Young-jin who writes and produces for K-Pop artists. I’m in love with his sense of melody and rhythm and harmony in vocal parts. PartyNextDoor has also been super influential for similar reasons, both in his own work and his writing for other artists. I love how his vocal lines flow like raps but they’re still really purposefully melodic. Also Majical Cloudz played an important part in me wanting to write more straightforward, confessional lyrics.
BS: What inspires you?
ST: I’m inspired by so much. I love sound just in general and anything that deals with sound and acoustics. Foley and sound design in films is really exciting to me. Also I’ve had experiences with sleep paralysis that I think permanently affected the way I think about sound and are probably a big part of why sound is so affecting for me. More generally I just have a lot of really intense interests that I’m sure influence everything I do in some way. I’m inspired by a lot of photographers and other visual artists, animators, dancers, poets. I love learning about nature and science and history. I’m especially inspired by my Tongan heritage and learning about the histories of Pasifika peoples, which is something I’d like to explore more through music.
BS: Beyond this release, what does 2017 hold for you?
ST: I have a lot of different ideas I want to work with when I can get back to writing. I want to explore a few more things and get out of my comfort zone a bit; I don’t want to get stuck writing a certain way or using certain sounds. I definitely feel like “Lonelyspeck” isn’t defined into a certain genre; even though it comes across as a “chilled electronic” vibe, I don’t want it to be that permanently.
Lonelyspeck plays Ancient World on Sunday March 24 with Allume and Louis Bullock. Tickets are $5 on the door.