Mixing electronic experimentation with folk roots, Sephine Llo holds an ethereal quality within her sound. She wrote, recorded, and produced her debut album ‘I, Your Moon’, which is out on October 27th; but also created all of the sound samples within it. The sound is ambitious, with quick comparisons made to Florence Welch and Kate Bush. It’s a debut album of wonder and beauty. At times, it’s a gentle blend of melancholia taking its roots from folk. But it’s layered with electronic glitches and distortion.
Working with award winning filmmaker, Gustavo Arteaga, Sephine Llo has created a whimsically haunting video for ‘Paper Thin’, which premieres with us today.
Speaking of the track, she says it started with just a thumb piano and cheap wooden recorders; “I did some improvising on a borrowed Prophet 5 synthesiser and the track started to come together”. Lyrically she was inspired by a piece of art that her friend, Kimi Tayler, had made. She continued to say that, “the artwork included the words ‘It will feel like all you have known is shattering, but it is only a soft tongue cutting you to pieces’. The song tells a story of overhearing someone you care about through a wall. They are talking you down to someone else, and wanting you gone from their life”.
Gustavo Arteaga approached Sephine Llo about creating the video. And she already had a clear idea of what she wanted; “The concept I gave him was to have a house made of paper. And for it to be destroyed by rain, but for it to be ambiguous as to whether I’m in the house. Or that the house is on my skin and I’m crying onto it. He was incredibly clever and resourceful. He built a house of sheets for the parts of filming I was in, and made a rain machine in full size from a hose pipe. As well as one in miniature using bubble wrap! The overall feel of the video he created for me is fragile, claustrophobic and lonely. Which are the emotions I visit when performing the song”.
Accelerating through the classical music circuit at an early age, she is trained as a violinist, pianist and singer. She soon began experimenting with sound sources, recording the noise of day-to-day objects and teaching herself to play more unusual instruments such as kora and sanxian. These new sonic adventures were married to an unconventional song-writing style.
The release of this album also proves a cathartic experience for Sephine Llo. She explains that the album now represents a bridge over the journey where she found her husband through their music, to the turbulent feelings that now shape her days.
“The songs on the album ‘I, Your Moon’ were all written, and the recordings nearly finalised, before I met my husband, Robert, in early 2013”, she said. “He is so strongly connected to my songs, especially ‘Barren Heart’ and ‘Home’, and I in turn fell in love with his voice and music as the artist ‘Autumn Chorus’. The pain and cynicism contained in our lyrics evaporated when we came to be together. We were new people, complete and euphoric”.
For a while she struggled to feel connected to her album’s content; “but it had been such a labour of love and contained so much of my past that I felt a duty to finish and release it. Robert helped me with the final stages of production, adding his beautiful vocal harmonies and working with me to tweak atmospheric material to lift some of the songs until I was proud of them again… His diagnosis of advanced bowel cancer just days before our wedding yet again changed everything. Our lives became a battle to stay together, one at which we could only succeed for two years. Only weeks before his passing, we learned the joyous news of our pregnancy…”
Over the last 4 years, Sephine Llo has experienced the most incredible gifts, and endured the darkest of challenges. “When I come to sing the songs on ‘I, Your Moon’” she said, “the lyrical meanings have so far evolved for me that I can scarcely remember the heartbreaks that originally inspired them. I am so grateful to Robert for his unending support of my music. For giving me such pure happiness, and of course, for our child. I dedicate this album to my husband, my true home”.