Local Artist Spotlight: Lushloss

Local Artist Spotlight, Local Music
Dusty Henry
photo by Brit Hansen

Every week, KEXP features a new local artist with an interview and suggested tracks for where to start. This week, we're featuring local producer/songwriter Lushloss, whose debut album Asking/Bearing came out on cassette last week and arrives digitally on July 28 via Hush Hush Records.

In the opening moments of her debut, Lushloss (a.k.a. Olive Jun) vocally arrives through crackles of distortion. When the sparse beats finally arrive underneath the creaking keyboard loops, Jun's voice pitches up-and-down. Who she is changes from moment to moment, but always fitting perfectly in her heart-wrenching electronic production.Asking/Bearing isn't just an introduction to Jun's music, but a candid revelation of who she is as a person. The trope of the confessional songwriter is one that's easy to exaggerate, but what Jun does on this record goes beyond what most songwriters dare reveal. It's a record divided into two parts: Asking and Bearing. Throughout the Asking side, Jun intersperses a Skype conversation with her mother in Korea. They talk about the death of her grandfather, their mutual worries for each other, and Jun's identity as a trans-woman. These moments alongside Jun's tender, open songwriting creates a work that feels as much as an album as it does a mini-documentary about Jun's life. Complemented with the Bearing side, consisting mostly of hip-hop influenced instrumentals, we get the full picture of who Jun is. Or at least part of who she is — there's always more to dig into and revealed over time. We caught up with Jun to find out more about the construction of her album, being vulnerable in her art, and how Just Blaze and Kanye West changed how she approaches making music.

What made you decide to split the tape between the “Asking" and “Bearing"sides? I understand that the “Bearing” tracks were originally slated to be your debut – how do you feel they pair with the “Asking” tracks?

Asking is just a much more deliberate record than Bearing and I wanted to keep its story strong. Mixing them up felt awkward. I wrote Bearing over a few years, exploring what I thought sounded good and playing around, while Asking was written in 3 weeks with a narrative stretching over the tracks that didn’t exist in Bearing. It just felt right to present them apart, similar in the way that I see them as different points of time in my life. Doing that makes me appreciate the two parts together as a record of the last few years of my life and I like to think it fits because of that.

Throughout the Asking side of the tape are clips of you chatting with your mom over Skype. When did you decide to include these? Did you start the conversation with the music in mind or was it something that happened after? Has she heard the final tracks?

I had a few ideas down for what would become Asking by the time I had the conversation with my mom. It was only when I was listening back to the conversation after having it that I realized there were a lot of similar ideas being expressed between what I had written so far and what was being said by my mom and I. I took out parts of the conversation and used them as a sort of skeleton for the whole piece.

She hasn’t heard the final tracks but she knows the conversation we had is in my music in some way! (Haha). I don’t know if I could ever show her them myself but if she ever does listen to it I imagine she’ll know a lot more about me than she does now.

There’s an immense vulnerability throughout the record, not just with the conversations with your mom but with your lyrics and performance.Do you find it hard to be so candid in your music? What were you hoping to communicate with this record?

It’s hard when I find myself thinking about it too much. I just wanted to talk about things I've had a hard time reconciling within myself but that's hard enough as it is just having to in the first place. Sharing it with people can be scary. There’s a childish part of me that wants to be tended to and understood and I think Asking provides a lens for people to see me through to fulfill that feeling. It’s not a great picture but I feel like I’ve been able to reclaim a lot of these feelings I felt powerless about by talking about it.

You do some really interesting work with your vocals throughout the record, pitch shifting up-and-down sometimes within the same song. What made you want to experiment with your voice in such compelling ways?

The pitch-shifting was a response to me feeling uncomfortable about presenting my voice as a trans woman. I experimented with different ways of singing and tried to remove gender from the whole performance by doing the pitch-shifting. I still have reservations about my voice but it was fun doing something different.

I was reading that the Bearing side of the record is spurred from your love of instrumental hip-hop. Who are some of your favorite producers and how have they inspired your own work as a producer?

A lot of what I learned about electronic music and producing came from rap! Watching a video on YouTube of Just Blaze chopping samples basically changed the way I approached making music and got me really heavy into looking at audio as this malleable thing. I was really into Kanye when I was younger and tried to figure out what he was doing with all those other guys he had on board. This kind of led to me seeking out producers first and I found a lot of people in the LA beat scene doing really neat things this way and obsessed over that for a few years. Nowadays I just try and see what people are doing on YouTube; I love a good beat-making video.

What are you working on next? Is there another album in the works or any other projects on the horizon?

I'm still trying to figure out what to do next honestly. I'm most likely going to try and work on ways to stop being broke but I don't want to stop making music.



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