The Dynamic Sonically Shifts! Q&A with LouLou Ghelichkhani of Thievery Corporation.
(Reprinted with permission from DC SETLIST.)
When we sat down with LouLou Ghelichkhani of THIEVERY CORPORATION at a local coffee shop she touched on Joan Jett, motherhood, Pele and "the universal language of music!"
Q: You've said that your experience with Thievery Corporation has been like musical grad school (an education), what did you mean by that and how was that relationship established?
A: We all have things and people we are really passionate about... For me, music has always been both... And yet I never considered it to be a career...when I met Eric and Rob (Thievery Corporation) ... I had no experience, either in the studio or on stage. But throughout the past eleven years, I really feel that I have learned quite a bit about the creative and business aspect of it. Touring is troubleshooting on a daily basis. You learn to pay attention to a lot of details if you are technically inclined that is. The frequencies and the dynamic, sonically shift with every venue and equipment, and your only way to understand it is with exposure....Thievery provided the right exposure to absorb and digest all this information.
Q: Thievery is such a dynamic artistic force. What's the creative process like with them?
A: Are we talking live or recording? Recording wise, it's in a constant state of evolution... It could be a beat that triggers a vocal melody that triggers a bass line... Or a bass line that triggers the keys that flirt with a vocal pattern... It all depends on the feel of that moment, or an idea that lingers too long to be ignored. I have done 45 min sessions where the song just felt as natural as the sun, and I have done week sessions that require real focus, attention, work and constant rewriting.... But in general, it's just a simple way to communicate with one another through sounds that lead to something grand. :)
Q: "Playing for the gods on a mountain..." is how you described the show you did a few weeks ago at Red Rocks in Colorado. Share with us what you consider to be your most magical performance to date and why.
A: Well Red Rocks is for sure one my favorite spots .... Jupiter was so bright that night..
Others will have to be:
- Greek Theater, San Fran (I use to dream about it as a kid, my uncle had tales of Led Zeppelin, Bowie and many other idols playing there while he studied there...)
- "Good Vibration tour" in Australia... We played Sydney, Melbourne , Perth and Brisbane ... And while we were in Sydney I had the chance to catch a sold out PJ Harvey show at the Opera House which is famous for it's natural acoustic... All wood... It blew me away!
- Tim Festival in Brazil was incredible... Even though the sound system was awful, we played Rio and San Paolo (One of the most populated cities in the world)...we shared the bill with YYY's, TV on the Radio, and Daft Punk... It was pretty surreal...
Q: We were interested to learn about Sharpsword! Please tell us more about this tribe of musicians, where the name came from and your interest in other solo projects.
A: SHARPSWORD clan is the translation for my last name Ghelichkhani (Persian/Turkish/Mongolian/Russian heritage). When I first moved to upstate NY, I did not know any musicians... But I had a real urge to play live shows... I had sketches but no real structure for my songs. So I came up with the idea of having a collective... An open house to all musicians with a few perimeters... I would set up live shows and invite who ever was free (because everyone I gradually met there was already in bands, touring .. The whole 9 yards) to join me if they were in the mood to jam and improvise... As long as we could have one warm up jam the week of the show.... It was a great way to not only meet people but develop a new sound. I played with members of the Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, the Motet (from Denver) , Tiger Cried Beef, Hinkley, Carbonic, Moon Seeds... All incredibly talented musicians. The songs would keep morphing into other songs... It was really cool to listen and be a part of it.
Q: Your daughter is a constant source of inspiration for you. What are some of the challenges & joys of being an artist and a single parent
A: For the most part , being a parent has been an incredible way to rediscover childhood... Which I felt I missed out on growing up during a revolution... My daughter has given me a different perspective. As a female musician, we can easily get wrapped up in drama, ego, and superficial nonsense... Being a mom helps me focus on what is important, following my instincts, paying attention to all the little things and "little people"... As soon as I had my daughter, I was able to see and read little thought bubbles above childrens heads... they have the most colorful and humorous way of seeing things! These days, I don't really consider myself a single parent... My partner, who also plays/tours with a few bands, is involved and extremely helpful with raising my daughter. He plays bass and guitar with her. We recently had a family jam session, my nine year old on piano, my man on bass and yours truly on vocals... It was fun!
Q: We love that your father played against Pele with the San Francisco Earthquakes back in the day! Who were you rooting for during the World Cup this summer?
A: My dad played a friendly match with Pele when he was in the national Iranian team... He was transferred to the states to be part of one of the first Cali team.. San Fran earthquakes... Where my mom popped and had me. Then we went back to Iran ... Right before the revolution in 1979. I was rooting for the little countries, I had hopes for Costa Rica, Ghana...next time!
Q: You've lived all over the world Iran, Turkey, France, Germany, California, New York, etc... Is DC home now?
A: For now it is. I love DC... There is something really special here....
Q: Who are you most excited about playing with this Sat., (9/25), at the Virgin Mobile Festival at Merriweather?
A: PAVeMent!!!!! Those basslines drove me crazy in college! But also Joan Jett (my boyfriend and I both had a crush on her when we were in high school) because she never ceases to ROCK, and LCD Soundsystem... It will be a cool show!
Q: Thievery starts a tour in October with Massive Attack! It's about time! Why now? And why no DC dates?
A: I think it's only natural to put acts that compliment each other on the same bill. Massive Attack and Thievery have both been big influences in the world of electronic music. It just makes sense that they both come together on this tour. It feels like I have dreamt about this years ago... So Psyched...
As for a DC date... I think it was just a timing / schedule thing... I personally would have loved to do a Massive-Thievery show at the 9:30... One of my favorite clubs ... Amazing sound, no bad seats! We should meditate on it and see if it gets added as a bonus show... If it does, I get a cut for being Psychic. :)
Q: If you were to put together a play list of the artists you are currently listening to, who would they be and what 5 songs would be on it?
A: So hard....instead I put artist: favorite track....
- Serge Gainsbourg: "Ballade de Melody Nelson"... The bass baby , the bass ....
- The Clash. Pretty much all the songs... Death and Glory, Guns of Brixton, Rudie can't fail... All infectious!
- The Kills. "Last day of magic"... It's a bit melancholic but I really love the dark tone..
- BrightBlack Morning Light. " everybody daylight" it's an amazing track to listen to during sunrise and sunset... These cats are super cooooool! The heavy slow bass and reverb drenched vocals are an instant buzz .
- Black Lips: Veni Vidi Vici ( diplo remix ) I love these guys... Their songs are full of honesty, and this particular remix is one of those side to side , hip to hip dance tracks.
- Camera Obscura: " French Navy" guilty pleasure super bright sunny song... It's about moving on and realizing that we can't control everything... Makes me smile!
- Artic Monkeys : " Crying Lightning" my daughter and I love the study drums and the guitar on this track... It's pretty heavy, has that pulp fiction vibe...
Of course this list could go on and on if I start going down the classic, I never get enough of Marvin Gaye, Sam Cook, Jackie Mittoo, Scientist, Nancy Sinatra, Francoise Hardy, Hendrix, Pink Floyd....
Music is abundant, it makes you feel good, it's the best substitute for sadness and loneliness, it's a universal language to understand humanity and feel connected!
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