If there’s one thing that shines through on Lou Roy‘s debut album ‘Pure Chaos’, it’s personality. And as we all know, Dear Reader, personality wins pop prizes. Co-produced by Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin, and with a recent MUNA support slot under her belt, they’re both connections that make sense when it comes to an album of such dynamic, vibrant brilliance. An album with so much wrapped within deserves deeper analysis, so we’ve asked Lou to run us through each track for our latest Artist’s Guide. Press play and dive in.
The valkyries are a host of female figures in Norse mythology who ride horses through the sky with big long swords and are very sick. They choose who lives and dies in battles. On my birthday in April 2020, the fairly new rules of quarantine fully in place, I had a few friends over in my yard where we sat in a square 10 feet apart with masks on, having to yell at each other just so we could hear anything anyone was saying. The sample you hear at the beginning of the song is me tapping my water bottle while listening to my buddies have a conversation around me. It was called water bottle birthday beat for months, until one night in July I got high and decided to just put the beat on loop and improvise lyrics.
I had a panic attack a few days before, and had written the opening line I was forced to breathe on purpose, 123456, 123456 already, and just decided to go stream of consciousness based on that. Apparently, I was feeling angry, vengeful – the rest of what came out was all about embracing rage, hoping to harness the brutality of the valkyrie, to summon their strength to help get me through a particularly brutal trauma. Then in a sudden shift of perspective, I noticed I wanted peace and quiet and asked myself hey man, whatcha doin? Come on back, I need you movin! It was a gentle request to please not be so upset, I’m scaring me! This song took the longest for me to make and I had many friends provide input and advice and add their own programming, and it took on so many different forms. The key to unlocking the final version for me was to draw reference from Bjork’s ‘Hyperballad’. Specifically the hi-hat and bass at the top of the song. It’s actually quite minimalist in arrangement but each sound takes up so much room, while the vocal remains the dominant focus. Less is more.
I think we can all agree that we look at our phones a little too much! But I get it! Sometimes a sweet scroll thru the lives of others is a much-needed break from the nightmare hellscape happening in our brains. This song is just a light roast of myself, coming from a loving place. I originally put the song out as an IG video, but decided to do it for real with my co-producer Sarah Tudzin in the studio. She did some real studio magic with that guitar pitching in the beginning. Its a combination of tape machine and pro tools trickery that keeps the song at the same tempo, but also heightens the pitch. Usually it’s one or the other when you want that tape machine sound, but she finagled her way into having our cake and eating it too.
After I heard the newest Haim record ‘Women in Music pt.iii’, I was so hyped on rock again. I think that record is really amazing and suddenly I felt so called back to the guitar, simple chord changes, and seeking joy. This is one of those songs I thought I would just keep to myself as a songwriting exercise, because some of the lines are so unpoetic and colloquial it felt like I was cheating. I like this song because it acknowledges some of the incredibly fucked up shit that looms behind joyful moments, without overshadowing the joy.
U.D.I.D started as a whisper over a finger-picked acoustic guitar part, high up on the neck with a capo in an alternate tuning. I had just had a phone call with a person I love that left me heartbroken, and I confessed to myself and my dog that maybe that phone call was the final straw, maybe I do have to really say bye to them. So I got high and put on hellraiser (for the second time that evening.. Idk what was going on there) and decided to try on what it would be like to really just give up on them. It’s the only point on the record where I actually can’t find the humor or optimism present in other songs. When it comes to my love for this person, who cant quite meet me halfway, I am not wise or funny or clever. I am nervous and pissed. The chorus lyrics, I always want you near, but im starting to get the deal, if u don’t dare I don’t dare are admittedly words id rather not say. And honestly, it’s an empty threat anyways, because the truth is I will always take that dare, I’ll always want to try.
If We Were Strangers
I consider myself to be a decent communicator, quick to laugh, and generally curious and approachable. But sometimes, the relationship I have with my mom makes me feel as though those parts of me are completely inaccessible, and possibly even untrue. Sometimes our communication is so botched, broken, riddled with misunderstanding and loaded with perceived or real resentment, that it feels impossible to reach a place of true friendship and love. Ironically, we share a lot in common and when I step outside myself, our relationship, I see my mom for who she is in the real world and think to myself dang I think I could get along with this person if they were just a stranger that I met. I bet we’d have a nice chat.
I went to a big gay party in the desert where hundreds of queer women gather every spring and party for 3 days. It was a true blast. This is my love letter to the dope hookups and hot girls I met at that party. Amen.
Down Since ’07
I wrote the opening line for this song years ago and it was originally a much more folky song. Although the lyrics morphed as the production changed into a St. Vincent-inspired pop scape, it has always been an optimistic and low-key way of expressing admiration and love for several people in my life that have remained dear to me since 2007. I started this demo in my kitchen, where I have my workstation set up. I was so stoked on the drum sounds and that simple bass line, and wanted to keep the lyric simple and accessible so people could just vibe out and transplant their own nostalgia onto it – something or someone rad they’d been down for since 07. The bridge of this song is one of my favorite parts of this record actually the lyric is “I’ll be seeing you tomorrow/where every bites a peace cobbler/have at me in your kitchen corner/ have at me in your kitchen babe” and there’s a sweet little bit of a tonicization of a new key; tension builds in just the right way to exhale back into a final verse, starting off with that slightly swung hi-hat which had previously been played straight.
I wrote this song walking next to a friend in New York City. We were on our way to lunch I think. I had spent a few days with him and a few others buddies in New York as I wrapped up a tour. One week prior to starting the tour, my 4-year relationship with a partner had come to an end. We weren’t angry with each other, no big trauma, but certainly grief and sadness. As the tour ended and I was gearing up to come home and see them, help them move out.
This little jaunt was a(nother) product of me getting high in my kitchen and feeling chaotic. I wanted to write something that would just be percussion and vocals, my little ode to ‘Hot Knife’ by Fiona Apple, and started beating on my chest and improvising lyrics, reaching into the recently-familiar pockets of optimism and hot girls. Recording this song was so much fun. Myself, Sarah, Sam Wilkes (bassist) and Eric Radloff (keys, vox, guitar) each had our own percussion station while our drummer Kyle sat at the kit. Everyone had a bunch of different percussion instruments to choose from at their station, I stuck to rubbing two mini snickers bars together, the crinkle of the wrappers sounded like really warm brushes on a snare drum. Then I had three of my best friends in the world, Maddie Ross, Ren Farren, and Jayme Satery sing background vocals on this song. The whole crew really blessed this track with the love and warmth only your friends can.
This was the first song I wrote for this record actually. It was the first song I’d written in a while that I really loved and felt good to sing. Sarah heard this and immediately said it deserved a full orchestral production, and I hadn’t even considered that, but when she said it it made so much sense. She imagined this lush western world with duelling acoustic guitars, strings, and spaghetti western countermelodies in the electric guitar. Once it was imagined, everything came together very quickly and smoothly. Each instrumentalist really dedicated themselves to getting this performance exactly right and I think that shines through on the recording. A fun fact, the background vocals are the original demo background vocals.