By Rob Feher
When I spoke with Memphis LK, I quickly realised how splendid she is. Her calm nature, amicable presence and outward kindness immediately elevated her musical notoriety. I realised that it is because of these qualities that her music transcends through genre and ages. Each track is subtly infused with a vivacity that makes her artistic presence even more approachable and fun.
Memphis’ spirit was captured most recently in her newer cuts Whip and Coffee, which have both added a unique, out of kilter, genre bending experience for the listener. In these tracks, her vocals shine over meticulously crafted production. These technical aspects can be credited to her creative autonomy and holistic approach to music making, both of which have distinguished her in electronic and pop circles around the world.
In a conversation with to Be last week, Memphis reflected on the state of music today, her upcoming live performance at Beyond the Valley, future collaborations and more. Here is what unfolded…
RF: To begin, how has this year been for you compared to the last?
ML: I was thinking about this the other day in a moment of reflection. It has been such a good year! Sometimes it is easy to forget how much you achieve over a short period of time. For the past few months, I have been working towards my EP release, which is coming out in a couple of weeks. I have also been playing some big shows and this summer will be my first run of festivals, which has been an absolute dream of mine. Things are really happening now!
RF: They really are! This past year you have also done some travel, playing at BIGSOUND in Brisbane and Hör in Berlin, aka the club toilet place. Tell me a bit about the Hör experience, it’s not really a toilet, is it?
ML: It was crazy because I watched so many of those sets over the years and I always said I would love to do a mix there. When I was in Berlin, it all happened so quickly, and I felt like I was dreaming when I got the email. I read it at 4 in the morning, thought ‘omg cool’, went back to sleep, woke up a few hours later and thought that ‘what a crazy dream’. I rechecked my emails and was like ‘Holy Shit! It was real’. It was funny.
I was so nervous going into the set. But then when I got in the room, it was just me, a webcam and a window. I thought ‘okay it’s not as scary as it looks on YouTube’ and the surrounding public made it all way less nerve wracking!
RF: From that experience in Berlin, did it make you feel excited to drop a set for a festival crowd? Is there anything special to expect for Beyond the Valley later this month?
ML: Yeah absolutely. My live show is like a hybrid DJ/live set. I basically just DJ and mix in my own songs, sing and sometimes I play the saxophone. Once my EP is out and I have released more music, I’ll probably transition into more live performances and less DJing but for now, it's great to be able to do both. I feel like I can be my own hype person which is fun.
RF: Coming back to the studio life and music making. Is there a lot of collaboration that you’re looking forward to or currently doing?
ML: I did some really fun sessions when I went to London and Berlin in the middle of the year. I got to work with some of my favourite producers and I’m looking forward to finishing and releasing some of those songs next year. I’ve been doing some remixes too, one for an artist called UMI that just came out and another one I can’t talk about yet but I’m so hyped for it.
RF: There seems to be some elements from the UK scene in your latest singles Coffee and Whip with their use of breaks and bass. What was inspiring you to make those tracks?
ML: When I first started getting into dance music and production, most of the artists I listened to were from and still are in the UK . I love artists Four Tet, Burial, Overmono, Bicep. I love how there’s so much emotion in their music. They have all been a big inspiration for me and my music.
RF: Talking about the music you were listening to growing up, what do you think is your earliest connection or memory to music?
It is always hard to pinpoint a first memory of music because I feel like music has always just been in my life. When I was really young, I was in bands and always writing music with my sister. I feel lucky that we grew up in an environment that really nurtured and encouraged creativity. I feel very privileged that I always had the option to pursue music as a career.
RF: Very lucky indeed. What does a typical day of music-making look like for you?
ML: It’s pretty structured. I’ve learnt that my creativity thrives better with routine. If I don’t force myself to sit down, then I won’t. When I do the same thing every day, I know something good will come eventually. I honestly feel like the structure allows for more inspiration. It’s like putting yourself on creative auto pilot.
RF: As you mentioned earlier, you have worked both collaboratively and independently as a solo artist. How have your past musical experiences influenced your decisions and creative processes?
ML: When I started learning how to produce and I discovered Ableton (music production software) I realized then that I didn’t need anyone else and I could be totally self-sufficient if I just put the time in. That was a liberating feeling for me. It’s made me really appreciate making music on my own and that I can be fully self-sufficient with the whole creative process.
RF: In an interview from 2019, you mention how your song Speak Honestly is a reminder to “trust your intuition.” How have you transcended this mentality into recent work?
ML: Speak Honestly was my first track as a solo artist. I was just making shit that I thought sounded cool and I was never overthinking anything. I never asked where does this sit? Or how is this going to be received? During the pandemic I started to overthink my music and doubt myself. I came out of lockdown and decided to really home in on producing and making as many songs as I could. I wasn’t trying to release any music. Instead, I was just trying to figure out my sound and direction. Now I'm back at the stage where it all feels fluid and I’m following my intuition again.
RF: So for your upcoming EP release, what should we be expecting?
ML: The EP is five songs I've been working on for the past year or so. The title of the EP, Too Much Fun has really been my mentality towards making music. Just have fun with it, don’t overthink it - if it makes me feel good it will probably make other people feel good too.
RF: Did you work with anyone on the EP?
ML: The title track was made with Pharaoh Vice, one of the producers from Internet Money. It’s one of my favourite songs and I’m so excited for it to come out. The EP is out January 13th!
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