Elk City may not be famous, however, their art pop music is brilliant and gorgeous. I personally became familiar with the band through its new album, "Above The Water", which sounds fresh and melodic. Myth of Rock had the honor to talk with singer Renée LoBue and drummer Ray Ketchem, who gave their interesting answers - listen to their songs and read this interview ... it will be a rewarding process!
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
Give us a short biography of the band.
Ray: Elk City is a New York/New Jersey band founded by vocalist Renee LoBue and producer/drummer Ray Ketchem. The band has toured France, Spain and Italy numerous times. The current line-up features members from legendary New York bands such as Luna and Versus. Elk City has a long history. Our debut album ‘status’ was released in 2001 on a Bordeaux label, Talitres.
Present us your new album, “Above The Water”. What would you change to it now, if you had the opportunity?
Ray: Honestly, I wouldn’t change anything. We record and produce our own music, so we make sure we are all very happy before releasing.
Renée: I agree with Ray. I wouldn’t change a thing about “Above the Water”. I’m proud of what we’ve done on this record.
How much have you progressed in the new album, compared to the previous Elk City albums?
Ray: We started a new chapter based more on guitars than the last few releases, which featured piano more prominently. We also changed our writing style – building our songs out of improvisations rather than traditional songwriting.
How would you define the music style of Elk City? Which are the trademarks of your music?
Ray: Elk City is an art pop band. The idea and the vocal are very important to us. We believe in nurturing hooks and bringing them to the surface in interesting ways.
Renée: We’re an organic pop band with hooks that come from the heart. Oh, and we’re kind of artsy, too! ;)
Who is responsible for the music and the lyrics of Elk City? How is a typical Elk City song composed?
Ray: The music is written together as improvisations. Renee has an amazing talent at improvising lyrics and melodies in the moment. She writes all of the lyrics.
Renée: I write the vocal melodies and the lyrics, mostly via the improvised studio jams kick out.
Where do your lyrics refer to? Do you try to send messages through your songs?
Renée: I never intentionally try to send a lyrical message through our songs; however, the songs are born from somewhere within my psyche. In that respect, I’m communicating on a deeper level that I’m (mostly) unaware of. I hope listeners gather only good messages from my overactive subconscious.
Describe the recording and the production process of the new album.
Ray: We own a recording studio called Magic Door (named after a song on our New Believers LP). We record everything, everything, everything, all the time. From these recordings, we build our productions. I edit and mix all the music.
How would you describe the atmosphere of your music?
Ray: We hope that our music transports you to a place you want to be. We want you to float with us – above the water.
Renée: We can only hope we create (and have created) an atmosphere within our music. That’s no small feat. My goal is that we continue to grow as artists. If we’ve laid down some mad/rad vibes in doing so, we’ve created lovingly.
How do you sound live in concert? How much important are live shows for you? Which are your tour plans?
Ray: We interpret our songs in the live setting, sometimes recreating the sound of the record, and sometimes re-interpreting the composition entirely.
Renée: We love playing live. Isn’t it always better to go to the art gallery than stare at pics of art online?
How did the pandemic affect you as musicians and persons?
Ray: Fortunately, we were able to continue working together, recording music while the pandemic was surrounding all of us. The sound isolation rooms at our studio allowed us to work while maintaining physical distance.
Renée: It made us dive deeper into the songs on “Above the Water”… pun very much intended!
If you had the chance to co-operate with a famous artist, who would he/she be?
Ray: If it could be a dead or alive question, I would say David Bowie. We also love Khruangbin.
Renée: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Khraungbin, Robert Glasper, John Cale
Send a message to the fans!
Ray: Thank you for listening! We hope to see you at a show soon!
Renée: Thank you for reading this! Thank you for listening!