Soft vocals whisper against jolts of revving guitars, like a thug speaking low and deliberate commands to surrender or else. This is Le Recourder Larouge, the musical project of Rei Soto, which deals with the fringe emotions that frequently pose as love. Possessiveness. Greed. Lust. The passion of these pathos-laden emotions is enhanced with a mixture of hardrock pounding, industrial darkness, and dreamscape atmostpheres. A series of four EPs are planned, with two already released, titled simply “L” and “E.” Rei Soto spoke with Resonance about the creative process of a DIY musician, depressing prom music, and lyrical inspiration provided by horror films.
What was your objective in beginning Le Recourder Larouge?
Le Recourder Larouge really was born out of frustration. In my previous DIY project, The Von Neumann Probe, it was always difficult to find a place to record vocals for any of my songs. I never really had the money to pay for studio time and so most of my music would remain without vocals. It just became very frustrating not having that outlet or way of completing my music. My last resort was to record vocals in my bedroom but because of my living situation (which I’ll spare the details of), recording screams and loud vocals didn’t really seem that possible either. The only vocals I was ever able to record were quiet, “shoegaze-y” ones. So I decided to write shoegaze songs so I could finally record some vocals.
Le Recourder Larouge didn’t happen right away. I actually started writing electronic music first. I was writing really dark electronic shoegaze but without any guitars and with synths and glitch-inspired beats instead. As a guitar player of 15 years I wanted to put the guitar down for a while and write music without any guitars as a way to creatively challenge myself. Although this project did take on a life of its own, and I did end up writing a 5-song EP (which I plan on releasing in the future), I did eventually shelve it and “rekindled” my affections for the guitar, so to speak. And then Le Recourder Larouge was born.
~That’s quite a story. I find that most things I undertake are the result of frustration. Resonance being one of them.
I see you are releasing a series of two-song EPs rather than a traditional debut. I have noticed some other new bands do this in order to acquire attention over a longer period of time? Why does this nontraditional move make sense to you?
I just thought it would suck to spend so much time and effort on a full-length debut album or something like a 5-song EP that nobody’s going to hear. No one knows me so why would people invest time or even money on my full-length album or 5-song EP?
I figured I’d slowly put stuff out and try to build somewhat of a fan-base and hopefully create some buzz or interest for the when the time is right to release an “appropriate” full-length album.
It’s also a way for me to learn about promoting, making connections, and developing relationships with people now in hopes that I will be that much smarter and that much more prepared to release a full-length album when the time is right.
This is a pure DIY project. Would you share the process creating an EP?
It usually begins with a guitar riff or sometimes even a lyric. And I just build and expand until I have a song that “makes sense”. As I write the guitar parts I always have what the vocals should probably sound like in the back of my mind as well. I write the guitar riffs and arrange the song while always thinking about how the vocals are going to fit in at all times.
I might change a guitar riff to fit the vocals or vice-versa. But I usually have a strong impression in my mind of where the song is going to ultimately go and how it’s going to ultimately sound. As I write the guitar parts I am also programming the bass guitar, drums, and synths into my sequencer. Everything is written at the same time. I rarely go back and throw extra stuff on top. I tend to adhere to the impression I already have of the song in my head.
And as I write the song, I am also arranging and pre-mixing everything in my sequencer and in Pro-Tools. Sometimes I write the lyrics as I write the song but I usually wait until the song is complete so I have the whole picture to feed off of. And I always record instrumental demos of every song so I can try to listen to it objectively and see what works and what doesn’t. I rarely make big changes later on and almost always end up sticking to my original “impression” or vision of the song. If I am satisfied with the demo I’ll move on to recording a final version of the song, which means re-recording all the guitars, finalizing all the programming to make them as human as possible, and recording all the vocals. Then I move onto mixing and my own version of “mastering.”
~Sounds like an intese process. And then to do your own promoting on top of that…that’s a lot for one person.
I really like the drawn out longing in “Dream of You.” The vocals are a near whisper, providing a haunting element, while the background is a spacey psychedelic undulating soundscape. It’s really quite trippy. In an interview with Godlike Radio, you said, “Capturing the right emotion is very important to me.” How did you work toward capturing this one so accurately?
The song was actually musically inspired by a comment my best friend said about another band’s album. He said their album sounded like “depressing prom music”. I was so taken by that description that I immediately set out to write what I thought “depressing prom music” might sound like.
Originally, the song was approaching the 12-minute mark in length and I ended up cutting it down because I wasn’t exactly going for an “epic” kind of sound. At least not length-wise anyway. When I wrote the music I don’t think I knew what I was going to write about lyrically. But what I was going through in my life at that time and what I was feeling seemed to fit very nicely with the music’s “dreamy” and “trippy” quality.
I kind of just feel like the music and the lyrics are a marriage meant to be. The music ended up fitting so well with the theme of the lyrics and how I was feeling at that time in my life.
~I liked it. Now that you mentioned that, it was kind of depressing, yet strangely prom worthy. Well done.
Your music mingles elements of psychedelia, industrial, electronica, hardrock, and shoegaze. Name some primary musical influences of yours.
Musically I’d say ‘Loveless’ by My Bloody Valentine, everything by The Depreciation Guild, everything by Slowdive, and ‘Siamese Dream’ by Smashing Pumpkins.
~Love ‘Siamese Dream.’ Definitely one of my top albums.
My influences for my guitar tones come from not only the afore-mentioned albums and/or bands but also the self-titled album by Cold and everything by Deadsy.
“Say that You Love Me” is on the Valentine’s Day release, but is such a twisted love song. It’s carnally hot yet emotionally cold and almost challenging, as if the two lovers are facing off, waiting to call each other’s bluff. The last stanza says, “Neither of us will admit that we both want the same thing. Making sure the other stays has shown to be the best way…to drive new chances away.” Expand on that please.
Yeah, it’s definitely about a “stand-off” of sorts. Two lovers pretending not to care when they really do, albeit for base reasons. Both of them doing everything to keep the other close, under the guise of not being emotionally attached. Lovers who know that the other person does care, again albeit for base reasons. And so each lets themselves be “taken” by the other in order to quell the loneliness within.
Wanting the other to want you. Needing the other to need you, to love you, to do everything for you.
The last stanza is the only time in the lyrics where the truth of the situation is ever admitted, which was that this “relationship” was snuffing out any chances at finding real, meaningful love elsewhere.
~I was fascinated how the lyrics so accurately verbalized the intense emptiness of each person in the relationship. That greediness that makes a person need another to give them any sense of feeling loved, no matter how shallow. I believe this song voices a growingly common experience.
This song is actually about an experience I went through. We were both very insecure and our secret dependence on each other was keeping us from finding any real happiness outside of our “relationship.”
You dedicate a song from the “E” EP to the horror film star, Danielle Harris, of Halloween 4 fame. Are you a huge Harris fan, horror film fan, or both?
I actually am a huge fan of the original Halloween as well as parts 4 and 5. I grew up watching horror films.
When I was 6 years old my parents took me to the movies to watch Halloween 4. And as soon as I saw Danielle Harris, who I believe was 10 years old at that time, I just fell “in crush.”
It was really just an innocent attraction to another kid my age but it was a great big attraction. This was before I knew anything about sex so what I was feeling was not lust but a genuinely pure admiration of someone’s beauty. And because it was admiration of another child as opposed to an adult, to me, it’s that much more innocent and pure.
Throughout my childhood years growing up, my teenage years, my early adulthood years, every time I saw her in another movie, I would always remember all those feelings I felt at the theater when I was 6.
It dawned on me one day that I have had this huge crush on this person for most of my life. And since it’s a crush that I’ve had since I was this innocent little boy, it will always have special meaning for me. As an adult you have many reasons, some baser than others, for being attracted to or drawn to someone. But my attraction to her was one that came from an innocent and real place that I still really can’t explain.
My friend Glen just happened to start recording a conversation we were having on the subject with our friend Jose. And that conversation is what is heard in the beginning of the song.
I know many people won’t “get” it because these days, concepts like love and romance and purity are almost fossils.
And I know I’m probably going to seem, to put it lightly, odd. But I only care about what I think. And what Danielle Harris thinks. Lol.
~Well put. I do get it. I mean I’ll admit I’m considered odd as well. But I know from experience that we develop attraction to others for a variety of reasons: admiration, gratitude, fascination over some trait you’ve always wanted to emulate yourself. Being drawn to a person doesn’t always center around physical desire, although it can sometimes develop into that.
What can we expect next from Le Recourder Larouge?
That’s a good question. I’ve been weighing my options for a little while and I’m not quite sure what my next move is.
I may release a single or something like that before releasing the next EP. The next EP is already written but since the songs are actually a little over a year old I may want to write a fresh, new song and release it as a stand-alone single, perhaps with another song, new or old. I’m not sure.
But after the stress I underwent during the recording and mixing process of “E”, I may take a short break before making any music at all. Just a short break. A few short weeks. Probably less than a month even.
~Allow yourself some refreshment. And we hope to hear more from Le Recourder Larouge soon.
~And on that magic word, we part.