I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Emily Cross, a member of the relatively new band Loma. Loma consists of Emily Cross, Jonathan Meiburg and Dan Duszynski. Loma’s origins and shaping have come in a whirlwind of events over the past few years. The band is a recent joint venture to explore new musical territory, seeing as Meiburg is originally from the band Shearwater and Cross and Duszynski are originally from the band Cross Record. They met through Ben Goldberg of Badabing! records, who sent Meiburg Cross Record’s 2015 album Wabi-Sabi, which led to the two bands traveling together across America and Europe throughout Shearwater’s 2016 tour for Jet Plane and Oxbow. The band reconvened in a house outside Austin for two weeks at a time over the course of a few months to piece together their debut album. Then the band’s next milestone came in the form of a record deal with Sub Pop Records.
As for Loma’s sound, they don’t really fit into any particular musical genre. This could be due to the varied backgrounds and career paths of the band’s members, but this rejection of single-genre conformity could arguably be one of the band’s greatest assets. Their music is experimental, with this album in particular being influenced by the sounds of nature. Loma is searching, it’s evocative, and it takes the listener to another place entirely. To unravel the enigmatic mystery that is Loma, I sought to get to know Emily and to ask her about the band’s upcoming debut album, Loma.
What are your personal musical influences? What inspires you besides music?
Personally, I don’t listen to much music. I like older music like from the ’60s and ’70s. I’m a big fan of colorful women singers like Gloria Estefan. I like newer experimental stuff. As far as the band goes, we’re kind of all over the map. We’re into ambient stuff. Field recordings, nature, and natural sounds are muses for the band. Mortality and death inspire me because I work in the field of death and dying. I’ve been interested in it since I was a little kid. The fleeting nature of life itself brings poignancy to the ordinary things of life. On this album, there’s a longing to it [the fleeting nature of life itself.] There’s a reflection of what life is or what it could be. Any time we have themes around time passage or looking back on life it has to do with mortality and the human experience.
How did your deal with Sub Pop Records come about?
Jonathan, one of our band members, was already signed with them through his band Shearwater, and so we got the hookup through him.
What’s the inspiration behind the album’s cover art?
That’s my friend Lisa Cline’s work. I own the original piece and it was also hanging in the studio while we were recording so we thought it would look good on the cover. I like the piece because the two figures are beautiful and mysterious. All of her work has a serious, meaningful, spiritual quality to it that I like.
I see that the song “Joy” was the first song you all wrote and recorded together. How did it come together?
I can’t really remember. We worked in kind of a frenzy. It was hard and challenging for me to sing because it was different than how I was used to singing. It was more dramatic, showy, and theatrical.
Let’s talk about the house that your band describes as its muse for the album. What was so special about it and how did it influence the ideation process behind the album?
The house is on 18 acres. It’s a nice, free, open place to be. Natural sounds made their way into the record without much effort. We didn’t take precautions to prevent them from making their way in as you would with a normal recording. We sometimes even highlighted those occurrences and went out of our way to bring them to the forefront at times. Nature is the inspiration for, I would argue, most art because it’s the original inspiration source. It’s just so beautiful, abundant, amazing, and it’s a go-to pleasure source. Focusing on that was an escape from some interpersonal problems and tribulations that we were all going through at the time.
Your band talks about how you all captured sounds inside and outside the house on the album, from “the cicadas and frogs of ‘Relay Runner’ to the whooshes of wind and leaves on ‘White Glass.’” How did you capture the sounds of cicadas, frogs, and other nature sounds in the recording process?
We sometimes tried to specifically record certain sounds and sometimes we would just go sit outside and record and see what happens.
Going off of that, why did you choose to put nature sounds on the album and how do you think that adding nature sounds into the album influenced its tone?
It puts people into the space more directly by not just talking about nature but inserting sounds. It’s easy to be transported to a more natural, outdoor space. It sets a tone, especially when you have more loaded sounds like thunderstorms or the wind.
When you were recording, were you trying to take people specifically to the house where you recorded, a specific destination, or were you trying to bring the listener inside their own mind to a favorite place of theirs to visit?
We were trying to bring them into our space where we recorded but we didn’t consciously try to make them feel like they were here. It wasn’t a labored decision.
While recording the album, I read about how your vocals were accidentally recorded at the wrong speed but this was a happy accident and the voice ended up staying for the rest of the album. Were there any other happy accidents like this while recording this album or in any songwriting brainstorming sessions that you guys have had?
There were a couple times when we would record a random piano or guitar part and we would track vocals over it and it would seem perfect. The biggest happy accident was when we recorded my voice at the wrong speed on this record though.
What’s your guys’ process for jamming and brainstorming song lyrics? Do you have any un-traditional methods?
We don’t really do anything out of the ordinary. I think that as long as there’s chemistry in the space then brainstorming is easy.We all work really well together. We don’t have any tricks or anything like that for brainstorming. It all happens organically, like we’ll work out a guitar part, or sometimes we’ll let the tapes roll and just see what happens when we start playing.
What’s a lyric or song on the album that you particularly resonate with and why?
I wrote the first song on the record called “Who is Speaking.” I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite song on the record by any means, but I wrote it myself. I worked on it in Germany while I was doing an artist residency there. I had nothing to do one day and I had my guitar and recording stuff with me so I thought I should work on some music. I wrote the entire song myself but we all added other stuff to the song later.
What’s in store for the future for you guys? Do you guys have any plans for where you want to tour next or any goals for the future?
We’re just rolling with it. We don’t know what’s gonna happen in the future and we don’t even know how the tour is gonna go but we hope people like it. We have a full tour for April, May, June, and maybe August that’s in the US and Europe.
Where’s somewhere that you haven’t toured yet but would like to?
I would go to Australia or Japan. They’re both so far away. I want to go to Japan because I’ve never been to Asia and it seems fun and different. Australia is so beautiful and the people seem nice.
Let’s wrap this up with a fun question: If you could get the chance to perform with any musician who would it be and why?
Rihanna. I love her even though she wears fur. Fur is fucked up but she’s cool and I love her music.
Check out the band’s debut album Loma on all streaming platforms, or buy the album here.