Elizabeth Le Fey, young, fresh and solo is the lone official member of speedily growing heartfelt project, Globelamp. Poetic, soaring vocals meet an eclectic 1980’s inspired style in the thoughtful Globelamp. Where Elizabeth once stood in the line-up of short lived brilliance Foxygen, her second solo album ‘The Orange Glow’ leaves no room for nostalgia. Globelamp is musically and personally a strong woman and her future is alight with growth and possibility.
indieberlin: You’re about to drop your second album ‘The Orange Glow’. I’ve really enjoyed it, it feels super authentic. How long did it take you to record?
Elizabeth Le Fey: Thanks very much! It’s been so scattered. It took about a year I guess. It’s been on and off. I’ve doe parts of it in a straight session but then gone away for a while, so it’s been like a year all together.
indieberlin: You talk about some hard hitting content. Do you feel like this is a healing process for some of your personal trials?
I just want to get to the heart of something and I think that does come across in my music.
Elizabeth Le Fey: Yeah, I think that’s how I am as a person and it comes out in my music. It sounds dumb saying “I’m really deep” but I just mean that I don’t like superficial things, pointless conversations or that sort of thing. I just want to get to the heart of something and I think that does come across in my music. I don’t mind talking about my life. It is therapeutic for me. Ultimately, I make music for myself because it feels good to express myself through song. It always felt good to write poems and it felt even better to sing them, and then if other people like it that’s even better but like it was always for me.
inideberlin: Yeah, I saw that you started off writing poetry. Do those two creative outlets have separate positions in your life, or do they come together quite naturally?
Elizabeth Le Fey: I had always written poems and then I realised that I could put them to a song. Poems are longer, more descriptive and I usually just pick parts out of them for the song, because songs are more… you know, you have to rearrange words so that they fit better. I’ve written in a journal since I was a teenager and I kind of flip through my journal, pick lines and then make it make sense. Or I’ll have a theme. Sometimes I’ll literally just go through my journal because I’ll forget what I’ve written. Let’s say I’m here [in a bar] but I have an idea, I’ll write it down and then use it later. The same with voice memos, I’ll make up a ten second chorus and I’ll know that it’s going to be a chorus for something and then I’ll go back and make everything fit around it.
indieberlin: I guess your music doesn’t have to be so focused on one moment of your life that way, it can tell a longer story.
I’ve always loved music, listening to it, so yeah, I’m glad other people like my music too…
Elizabeth Le Fey: Yeah definitely, it’s interesting because they can be really old poems, and no one would know, you know? Except me and I always liked that because it made me feel better to be able to speak in that language of music. I’ve always loved music, listening to it, so yeah, I’m glad other people like my music too but that was never the main thing. If I did want to do that, I think I’d write lighter content.
indieberlin: Is there ever anything too personal worried about sharing?
Elizabeth Le Fey: Kind of but if I felt that it was too intense I would probably just word it in a way that made it seem like it wasn’t necessarily about me. If I were to write something really vulnerable I would write it from the narrative of something else. There’s always a way to tell something. I feel like maybe I wouldn’t necessarily tell everyone much about my family drama, I mean that would be a lot to dump on someone!
I could put it into a song and there are things that have happened that maybe if I put into a song, other people out there will have experienced something similar, they could listen to it and appreciate it. I would rather turn it into that, more of a universal feeling. Take something that’s bad and turn it into something that people can relate to. Also, I don’t think there’s anything worth hiding really.
I’ve always preferred intense song-writers and emotional music.
As a culture we’ve been hiding things for a long time and it’s lead to people having all types of problems like people being in the closet, people being afraid to talk about abuse, all these things have made people afraid to talk about the truth and the more people that are vulnerable and open and talk about these things, it’s actually kind of radical to be emotionally open because we’ve lived in a heartless society, so I’m totally about it. I’d just deliver some things in a more lyrical sense. For instance I smoke a lot of weed but my songs are never explicitly like, “I’m smoking, blah blah blah”, I don’t need to say exactly what I do in my life. There are some song-writers that do that. I’ve always preferred intense song-writers and emotional music.
indieberlin: Who are your biggest inspirations?
Elizabeth Le Fey: I have a lot. It depends on my mood and I have a few different sides to me. There’s the singer-songwriter side that is inspired by Elliot smith, Syd Barrett, Catpower, Tori Amos and Nike Drake. Then there’s another side of me that is more inspired by punk like Bikini Kill and Against Me and then another side is influenced by Neutral Milk Hotel and also Kate Bush, Patti Smith, Niko and of course The Beatles.
David Bowie was always one of my favourites. He made characters, had different personas, he created worlds.
That’s how I learned to write all my music, The Beatles really helped me to develop my use of all these different chords and then Modest Mouse taught me about tempo changes. I love tempo changes! David Bowie was always one of my favourites. He made characters, had different personas, he created worlds. So all of these people may be very different but they’ve all come together to make me who I am and my music the way it sounds. Oh and Bright Eyes, I forgot about them. That’s actually why I started writing music.
I saw Conor Oberst live once and I was always afraid to [perform] live by myself because you’re alone, but watching him felt so powerful, I felt like I could’ve been watching one of the greats like Bob Dylan or something, everybody was perfectly quiet, he sang about really political stuff and it was cool to see someone have that much control over an audience by themself. I forgot what a good songwriter was about before I saw him live. I realised that I don’t necessarily need a band so it made me feel ok about being alone. I’m not playing with a band right now, but I will. I can do both.
indieberlin: Do you get nervous being alone on stage?
Elizabeth Le Fey: I don’t get nervous but I feel better after I play. I’m not afraid of being on a stage, but if I know I have to play I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s not stressful but it’s just waiting for when am I going to do it.
indieberlin: I can really hear a lot of the artists you mentioned in your musical style, as well as your dress personal style.
As a singer/songwriter I want to be more diverse and become more of a storyteller rather than someone who just plays the same chords and never changes.
Elizabeth Le Fey: Thanks so much, I like that. I didn’t ever stick to one genre or vibe. As a singer/songwriter I want to be more diverse and become more of a storyteller rather than someone who just plays the same chords and never changes. David Bowie had his thematic albums and was so big but he also had a private life, and people felt like they knew him so much still, it’s interesting. His imagery and lyrics, they make you think about the future and the past. There’s a lot about space but imagining something distant, he’s just the best! We went to the David Bowie mural in Brixton. I put a bunch of gems on a lightning bolt and threw a bunch of glitter everywhere, yeah that was awesome. Probably the best part of the tour for me!
indieberlin: Do you feel a big development between your 2014 debut ‘Star Dust’ and ‘The Orange Glow’. How do you see your music developing in the future?
Elizabeth Le Fey: I think it happens naturally for me. I’m not necessarily a techy person, I consider myself more of a songwriter and storyteller. I have friends who have all this gear and I’m always just writing. I’ve actually already written my next album but the songs need to be refined. Often I’ll write a song and then it will be six months until I really figure out how it goes. When I keep on playing it, I might realise how I should sing one little part. You can have it written but it will change the more you play it.
I’m certainly getting better as a songwriter, or at least I can write faster now. The Orange glow for me consists of older songs, it’s thematic whereas the first one wasn’t so much. The next one, I don’t know a name yet but I know the songs so maybe it’s not so much a thematic album. So they differ in that sense. I’d love to write another thematic album after that one.
indieberlin: What kind of process would you use to make a thematic album? Would you want to go somewhere, lock yourself away in a forest and write?
One of my last songs was called Faerie Queen, so I want to make an album that’s mystical and alludes to these things.
Elizabeth Le Fey: I think you write wherever you are, if you’re imaginative enough. I’d love to do one called The Goblin Goblet or something. One of my last songs was called Faerie Queen, so I want to make an album that’s mystical and alludes to these things. I also want to do a zodiac album with twelve songs focusing on the 12 zodiac signs, just focusing an entire album on something specific. I could probably do that anywhere. If I wanted to draw inspiration from a city then sure, I’d go there, but I’m talking about mystical things and I can find those inspirations anywhere.
Elizabeth Le Fey: I think so. I hate the heat. It draws my energy. When I was in Olympia, Washington the rain helped me to write more, but also it could be draining with the cold. There’s more solitude in Washington and more time for introspection of writing. I don’t really like California that much. I mean, I love it, I’m from there but then it’s too crowded and I get social anxiety. I don’t love the traffic, the pollution, it’s hot and smoggy and it can make me miserable. In Washington I feel blissed out more; I can go outside and smell the trees, it’s beautiful. I’d rather be around nature, even though it might be lacking in the arts compared to LA or something, I feel like I make better art being secluded than I would if I was in a City.
indieberlin: Vaguely ironic don’t you think? You need to be in a city to make your artwork, but it’s often much less inspiring than being away from it.
Elizabeth Le Fey: Right, you need to be in LA, New York, these big cities and its totally expensive there if you’re an artist trying to make it, but I mean, how are you going to make it? You have to work all the time to pay your rent, you don’t have any time to even write a song. That’s why I moved to Washington, my rent was so fucking cheap that I could work and write songs easily and have a band and play shows and it wasn’t a strain on me, I couldn’t be a slave to my job, that wasn’t me, I didn’t want to work 9-5 in a store just to pay rent and in The OC I would have to do that. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with that but that’s not what I want to do. I’d rather try and play music while I’m young. It’s so expensive there.
indieberlin: I think it’s a big accomplishment to not give in to this living for money lifestyle, if that’s not what you want to do.
That’s why I thought, why not move to Washington, the place where that awesome music came from, the people there might get me.
Elizabeth Le Fey: Yes. It’s weird, I grew up in California and everyone was like, “move to L.A., that’s where you’ll make it in music”. Then I moved to Olympia and everyone questioned it. But if I hadn’t moved there, I would never have started Globelamp. I am where I am now because of Washington. It’s not the place you might think to go, its not booming. I always liked Riot Grrrl, Nirvana, K Records and that’s all from Olympia. That’s why I thought, why not move to Washington, the place where that awesome music came from, the people there might get me. And they did, and it worked. It’s still small and towny, but it worked.
indieberlin: Do you get recognised because it’s a small place?
Elizabeth Le Fey: Everywhere anyone goes in Olympia, people recognise you, simply because you’re in a small town, you always bump into everyone. That’s weird; especially after being in a big city where you’re not going to run into the same people in every store you go in. Once Globelamp started getting attention, people would think they knew me because they’d read something online and it’s a really small town, that type of stuff. Portland would be cool, it’s like Olympia but bigger.
indieberlin: Would you ever move over to Europe?
Elizabeth Le Fey: I’d love to move to Europe, I want to live with my uncle in Bonn for a bit. He has a lot of land and it’s pretty and my labels in London so it’s close. My Uncle has a refugee family at his house, 6 people. In the states we aren’t accepting them and meeting them has made me more grounded. I actually want to live there so I could be by the kids that I met. Being around them has been really inspiring to me. People that have had their house bombed or walked for months, they’ve been through so much and they are still… happy. It’s amazing. In the U.S., I’ve probably never met kids that nice. That makes me not want to go back and to stay at my Uncle’s and help with the kids.
indieberlin: You must have a pretty strong viewpoint on the refugee crisis now.
Elizabeth Le Fey: Yeah, I’m really supportive of Germany accepting refugees; it made me so proud when my uncle housed them. It’s an amazing thing to do. To a lot of people, that sort of thing feels so natural, to help, but then other people wouldn’t ever help. It seems like common sense to me, if I had an extra room or a place, I’d share it. My uncle has a spare house on his land; of course he’s going to let people stay there. But then Neighbours have assumed things and said “they need to be grateful” etc. and it’s like… what the fuck, they are grateful, they’ve walked for months and you just don’t know them.
One of the girls, if she doesn’t get a new hip by the time she’s 20, she won’t be able to walk. Her house was bombed, her dad was a photographer and a teacher, and half of the Western population are putting these people in boxes and assuming that none of them know about technology or stupid things like that. Someone literally asked me when talking about it if they knew what a phone was, the ignorance is seriously delusional. It’s just made me think about it all a lot.
indieberlin: It’s really cool that you’ve been so personally involved with an aspect of this big world issue.
Elizabeth Le Fey: Exactly, I feel like I have a totally legit, justified opinion of the situation. I can show photos of these cute kids, I teach them guitar and they’re all super into that. I have a brother who is the same age as one of the girls and it makes me imagine if this happened to my brother. Of course the whole family, but they’re just kids.
I feel like I do have a more valid point because I actually know them, I haven’t just read an article that assumes they’re bad or they’re good. In America we have school shooters who are our biggest terrorist and we don’t do anything about it. They’re white males, killing kids in schools, but refugee’s are somehow seen as a bigger threat, it’s just racism. I don’t mean to get too political!
indieberlin: It’s important to have these conversations!
I want to be in a band but everyone’s too into themselves to be in a band; everyone wants to be the star.
Elizabeth Le Fey: Absolutely! Aside from that, I feel like I’m going to find my band in Europe. I follow my gut feeling, whenever I haven’t bad things have happened so if I have this intuition to move here, I’m going to follow it. It’s the same feeling I had 5 years ago before moving to Washington. I want to be in a band but everyone’s too into themselves to be in a band; everyone wants to be the star.
indieberlin: It’s been a pleasure to talk to you. When are you going to be back in Berlin?
Elizabeth Le Fey: Ah, thanks, it’s been awesome! I hope to get another European tour together around October this year, so not long at all.
Review by James Moorton
Photo by Elva Lexa