Imagine track after track of heartrending acoustic guitars with a lone wistful, contemplative voice singing away. That is homegrown talent Leslie Low’s (from the band The Observatory) second solo offering Worm for you. Unlike his first solo release Volcanoes which has elements of sound art, this album is marked by the simple, absorbing folk sound Low is known for. We sat down with Low to learn more.
Five of the tracks in Worm are demos recorded in your home, giving the album a personal feel. How does this DIY process fit into the album’s concept?
When I started out to write the album, I recorded whenever I was done writing a song. When I have an album’s worth of songs, I compiled them into a CD and passed them to Justin Seah who agreed to come onboard the project. We decided to keep some of the original demo tracks and re-record the rest that needed improvement. The concept was borne out of the fact that a lot of the performances on the demos were pretty much what the mood of the album should be like. So we went ahead in that direction.
The personal feel came from the fact that all the songs were performed quite naturally in a comfortable environment. The end result was quite satisfying as most of the recordings were about performance rather than audio quality or other technical details.
We find the lyrics of one of the songs in Worm, “The Years of a Silent Sea,” intriguing. What are you trying to express?
Well, I am not always very good at explaining my songs. My lyrics seem to paint an emotion, and they’re mostly about how I feel about certain things. So, I tend to pull in words that have a vague or direct relation to the emotion I am trying to convey. Most of the time, the lyrics do not follow a conventional train of thought. And I have resisted trying to make a whole song lyric flow in a typical way. I think I have done enough of that sort of songwriting in my earlier days. For a song like “Years,” the best way to describe it is that it’s about the way I see the world…and how helpless and lost I feel in it. It means the years of keeping quiet and not speaking up.
In an interview with X’Ho, you mentioned that you’re fulfilling a void by putting out your own works. Can you elaborate on that?
I have always had bouts of fruitful songwriting periods where a bunch of songs would manifest themselves upon me. And for Worm that is what happened. I feel with The Observatory, I get to fulfill my desires with collaboration. I recall the trigger being a Vashti Bunyan’s record called Lookaftering. I was pretty obsessed about that album. And the seeds of Worm were planted then. It was a very beautiful acoustic record with nice subtle arrangements and good songs. Suddenly I was missing the acoustic thing again and that was when the song-writing bug hit me. Sometime Dec last year, I wrote the first song “Along the Way Down.” And the rest came along quite easily.