Have you ever accidentally made an album? Because you had your heart broken by another pop star? Course you haven’t. Know who has? Paul Klein.
He’s enjoying his second official day of summer when we give him a call. He hasn’t had a break because he’s been working so hard on LANY’s second record ‘Malibu Nights’ since January. The 4th, specifically.
“Coming home from London on 3rd January, I got off the plane and went into the studio on the 4th, that’s what happened,” he says. “The second song I wrote on 5th January, and it just kind of went on like that. And I’d write these songs, but we weren’t like producing them or making them. A lot of times they were shells of songs, but the whole structure was there, the melody was there. But then when we went into the studio, the first song we made was ‘I Don’t Wanna Love You Anymore’.”
Where LANY’s debut was a minimal, airy, 16-track-long listen, ‘Malibu Nights’ is much shorter, brighter, and has so much more feeling behind it. Like a load of great pop records in recent years, it’s pretty heavy lyrical themes are balanced out with massively danceable instrumentation.
“It is sonically, definitely brighter. Just like even scientifically speaking it’s brighter, I mean as far as all the equalisers we chose and the sounds that we were working with everything is technically and literally brighter.
“I knew that some of these songs are pretty heavy, and I think it’s always beautiful to contrast things in art and, so because the subject matter was a little dark, I wanted to do everything we could to juxtapose that with visuals and with the sound.”
That’s immediately clear on the first two singles from the album, ‘Thru These Tears’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Love You Anymore’. The record was also produced by Mike Crossey (and LANY) – he’s the guy who helped produce both of The 1975’s LPs, Wolf Alice’s debut ‘My Love Is Cool’, and twenty one pilots’ ‘Blurryface’.
It sounds like Paul really went through the ringer writing this record too. He describes January as the worst and best time of his life, using songwriting as a form of therapy when getting over his first proper heartbreak.
“The plan was, I wanted to go into 2018 trying anything and everything, and you know, I wanted to get in a room with certain songwriters and producers and just try, and that’s something I’d never really done before, and I wanted to give it a shot.
“And then my whole world was flipped upside down, and I just found myself – it was a necessity to fill up every second of my free time. I didn’t wanna chill. I couldn’t. I needed to put all of my emotions and my energy into something, and I needed to write songs about what I was going through, and it was a form of therapy. Like the purest form of therapy ever. Like before I would start a session, I would just talk to whoever I was writing a song with for like two hours before we would even touch a note on the piano or anything. It probably saved my life, and I dedicated myself to that.”
So that’s what he did. Wrote some pop songs. And for the 45 days that followed 4th January, that’s what he kept doing.
“It was 51 days to be exact. I wrote the album in 45 days, but I didn’t realise it until the 45th day. I picked my head up. I would go in every day except Saturdays and Sundays because nobody would work with me on those days, and I would finish a song, every single day almost, and send it to the boys. I’d be like, ‘This is what we worked on today, here’s the idea, here’s the skeleton’, it would be a full song. I was so focused, and we would finish a song in 3-4 hours.
“If I didn’t finish a song that day, I wanted to like not exist as a human being. All I would do is work my ass off all day then I would just go home and drink myself to sleep, then I would do it all again the next day. It was tough.”
The entire recording process of ‘Malibu Nights’ sounds like it was a bit bloody intense. After all, he wrote the album in 45 days, but it became a passion project for reasons outside of just loving making music.
“There are people that write songs for a living and, uh, bro; this is on another level. I’d never seen anything like this, writing this quick in a day and just doing it over and over. It was the only thing in my life that mattered; it was the only thing.
“When I got to the end – our whole 2018, like I have 2019 already scheduled, and I’m just saying that because I knew how much time I had to write and what time we started going to rehearsals. I knew what time we started to go on tour, so I knew that like, come this date, I had to be done writing, because then we’d be moving into production on whatever song we’d written.
“But all that to say, I’ll never forget walking out of Conway, which is where I wrote a lot of the songs. It’s a recording studio off Melrose in LA, and I’d become like friends with the lady who sat at the desk, and the house engineers, and the grounds people. Everyone knew me, and I’d say goodbye, and I just cried my eyes out. I knew I’d just gone through such a fucking crazy season.
“It was like, I knew what I’d gone through, and I knew that it was also over and I would probably never feel anything like that ever again, and a lot of me hopes I never feel like that again. I dunno, I just can’t explain it. But it was those 45 days that all those emotions were extremely raw and extremely honest, and I just decided to put all my energy into trying to put those into words, and I think I did it well, if I can say that.”
If you’re wondering why the album is called ‘Malibu Nights’, it’s not because Paul is obsessed with cities (FYI, LANY stands for ‘Los Angeles New York’), it’s just where he lives.
“Every night I would drive back to Malibu after the session, and it would go one of two ways: you either drive home after being at work all day feeling on top of the world, can’t believe you just wrote that song, you’re like listening to that demo on repeat on the way home.
“Or the other way is, you aren’t listening to it at all. You feel like the biggest failure in the world, and you just wanna drive your car straight into the ocean and just die, and that’s pretty much the only two emotions I felt after every single day.
“I would always come back home to my bedroom in Malibu by myself, and I just thought Malibu nights was so indicative of the season that I went through, and it made the most sense to call it that.
“There was a point where I was almost gonna call it ‘January’, because most of these songs were written in January, but I think as humans we’ve all had that time or that season or that month, whether it be January or August, where just nothing was working, you just couldn’t catch a break. We ultimately settled on ‘Malibu Nights’ because that’s a better representation.”
As far as Paul is concerned, being able to turn his own experiences of heartbreak into songs that are #relatable for the masses is what makes what he does so special.
“If I couldn’t take shit experiences and things that upset me or hurt and turn it into art, I would be a pretty lost person. I’m so happy that I have that outlet and ability and y’know, I’m one of seven billion people who have experienced some sort of hurt or disappointment in their lives, and I’m one in seven billion, but I think being able to articulate it in a way some people can’t is really helpful. It’s just kind of what I do as a human being, and as an artist.”
Taken from the November edition of Dork. Order a copy below. LANY’s album ‘Malibu Nights’ is out now.
Words: Abigail Firth