Ryan Lum and Anji Bee, the duo known as Lovespirals, have released their fourth album, 'Future Past,' a collection of 11 beautifully-crafted songs that blend the pair's varied influences into a sound unlike any other.
The title reflects Lovespirals' goal with the record. Taking cues from the vintage sounds that have long inspired the band and fusing them with a modern electronica style, Lovespirals has created a genre-defying album.
"I believe the recordings of the early to mid-'70s, like 'What's Going On?' by Marvin Gaye and 'Wish You Were Here' by Pink Floyd, represent the golden age of record making, which has been in a steady decline since," said musician/producer Lum. "I was trying to aim our album production quality in the direction of those classic recordings."
Toward that goal, Lum upgraded the band's home studio in preparation of the creation of what he hoped to be the best of his 20 year musical history. Many hours of research went into the selection of key pieces of vintage and retro-influenced gear to attain the effect Lum was searching for with 'Future Past.' Lum stated, "Digital audio plug-ins, no matter how sophisticated they've become, still don't sound like real vintage gear. That said, I do use some plug-ins, particularly ones with vintage vibe, but I know there's a sonic difference between using them and the real things. And although I love retro gear, we don't record to tape."
Bee added, "We've both worked with tape machines in the past and much prefer the flexibility and control of a modern digital setup. Switching from ProTools to Logic this album was a huge leap and a definitely an influence on our songwriting, as well."
When striving to create a classic album, putting together a suitable studio with great gear is all well and good, but its the songwriting that is really key. Good songs take time to write, and time is what is most often the stumbling block for independent bands like Lovespirals. Luckily for Lum, the success of Bee's Chillcast branded chillout electronica music podcast and vidcast on Mevio allowed him to take a break from working a day job and focus more fully on the task at hand. "It used to be that I was the one chomping at the bit to get working on music and he was the one with no free time," Bee recalled, "but with this album, Ryan was actually getting frustrated with me because I keep such a busy work schedule and he couldn't wait to get me into the studio."
After more than a decade of making music together, Lum and Bee have a songwriting system in place. "Typically new song ideas start with me coming up a melodic idea on the guitar or Rhodes," said Lum. "Often Anji hears what I'm doing leaking out from the studio, grabs her lyric book, and before I know it she's singing a fantastic vocal idea." Bee calls upon years of collected inspiration when collaborating on song ideas. "I'm constantly writing lyrics and melody ideas, whether in conjunction with Ryan's music or totally out of the thin air. I started collecting the best of these lyrics into a book that I can pull from. Sometimes I'll recycle a lyric written to a totally different piece of music, as with 'Rain,' and others I'll write something on-the-spot, like I did with 'Sinking.'"
Much of Lovespirals' songwriting happens in the studio itself, during the recording process, which happens more or less simultaneously as the production process. "I think that's one my unique strengths; that my skills at song writing, musicianship, sound engineering, and music production all work together; I wear all these hats at the same time without needing to differentiate among them," Lum explained.
"These days we have a much more firm idea of what we're going to lay down before we fire up the studio than when we first began working together, but I still have a lot of room to play around with backing and harmony vocal ideas during the recording process," Bee admitted. "Having the luxury of being able to record whenever we want to opens up a lot more possibilities than if we were scheduling time in a studio with other people." Lum concurred, "There's no way we'd have the recording budget to block out 12 months."
'Future Past' reflects Lovespirals' experience of a decade of intimate collaborative songwriting and the fusion of Lum and Bee's eclectic influences. The result is captivating and clearly the duo's best songwriting to date.