Brothers Josh and Seth from the rising Canterbury indie-electro three-piece invite us under the hood of their latest shimmering single
Indie-electro outfit lotusbliss grew out of a conversation in which brothers and musicians Josh, Seth and Adam Gauton discussed their favourite band names. Out of such light-hearted origins has grown an act that deftly balances shimmering synthesizers, memorable harmonies that only siblings seem capable of, and the knack of chiselling out instantly memorable hooks. All of those elements are on display on Unwired, the Canterbury trio’s cinematic new single. Just one of the highlights taken from their recently released EP An Aching Sea, we asked Josh and Seth to take us through the song’s creation…
Josh: Unwired is about being present, about recognising that life is a gift and it’s there to be embraced but easily gets stolen. So often we miss the beauty of simple things around us, focused on progressing to the next big thing ahead; the future fool’s gold. I’m particularly guilty of this – dreaming of where I’m headed but at each stage often neglecting the joy of being in that moment.
As individuals and as a band, we’ve been through quite a lot of changes over the last couple of years, with graduations, moving cities, a wedding and a baby. Forcing ourselves out of our heads to enjoy each of these milestones has at points been a challenge but has, of course, been so rewarding, as well as offering moments of reflection. It’s these reflections that have inspired and informed this song in particular, as well as the whole EP in which it sits.
Josh: A key line for me is, ‘Stare down the barrel of an aching sea’ – much of the lyrical ideas came through sitting in my local park on a bench next to a small lake. In recent years (and certainly through lockdown) I‘ve started drawing much solace from being near water and that day, with a million thoughts crowding my mind, watching the slow ripples dancing in the sunlight, it almost felt like the lake was aching to draw me in and be that respite I was craving.
We wanted to explore the idea that we can end up being plugged so heavily into various spheres – think career, relationships, the internet – that we lose perspective on who and where we are, and end up dissatisfied. The challenge was doing that in a way that didn’t feel like it was a moaning, ‘Get off your phones,’ rant! I’d recently read a Joni Mitchell quote that was in my mind whilst working on Unwired – ‘You could write a song about some kind of emotional problem you are having, but it would not be a good song, in my eyes, until it went through a period of sensitivity to a moment of clarity. Without that moment of clarity to contribute to the song, it’s just complaining.’
I tend to hyper-fixate on lyrics when I write them, most songs get rewritten multiple times until the cut-off point of recording the vocals. I often wish this wasn’t the case, but I do think that perhaps my lyrical style comes through in that wrestling process. In this case, though, with such a big lyrical theme, I think that process really helped strike the balance between challenge and hope.
Seth: This song began forming on a long motorway stretch somewhere in Germany during a road-trip holiday a couple of years ago. We were driving around central Europe, camping in various countries and cities which was an amazing experience, but hours of tedious straight road travel left me searching for a solution to my boredom – and in this case, it was GarageBand. I was surprised to discover a load of features and parameters that had definitely not been around the last time I’d used the application in school music lessons, such as editing midi and equalising, reversing and effecting sounds.
I began stretching out an electronic drum beat that I had created, before reversing it to get that slightly jarring metal-type sound. I then reversed an electric guitar riff before adding a super distant, low-cut ‘verby’ pad underneath. These sounds formed the basis of the track, along with additional arpeggiators and plucky synth melodies that I added throughout the journey.
We had slightly forgotten about this odd soundscape-like piece for quite a while, accidentally stumbling across it just before some writing sessions. As soon as we started listening we were coming up with melodies and structuring in sections super quickly. The separation between its creation and us sitting down with the instrumental made the whole creation process feel more exciting, as if we had discovered a hidden gem that we almost missed!
IN THE STUDIO
Josh: I think we find the pressure of having studio dates coming up very useful. Whilst we spend a lot of time developing ideas before we formally record them, it can be hard to draw a definitive line under the sand and say the song is ‘finished’. A significant vocal melody line in the chorus changed once we started tracking which most likely saved the song – I’ve got a slight nervous sweat-on just thinking about how much less impactful the song would have been if that change hadn’t been made! Part of this, for me, is working with other people and allowing them into the process, in this case, our producer Jonny Bird. This can be awkward and, at points, feels like the song is breaking apart when their feedback comes in but, time and time again, you see the fruits of it in when, through that process, the song ends up becoming the best version of itself.
Seth: Most of the original sounds from my road-trip GarageBand session made it through the studio recording phase for Unwired and feature throughout the track, forming the foundation of the instrumentation. For a couple of the parts, we started to create higher quality versions in the studio, but many of these ended up lacking the original magic of a slightly scrappy, more lo-fi sound, so we decided to revert back to what was there at first.
Josh: The most important thing if you are a creator is to be drawing inspiration regularly from a whole host of sources outside of what you’re making. Spending time in art galleries, engaging in a meaningful way in the local community, watching challenging films and going to live shows in a wide range of genres are all things I do regularly to inspire the music I create, but perhaps the most effective thing is to keep tuning my ear to be ever-attentive to simple instances and conversations that could inspire a lyrical concept or melodic thought. Looking outside of ourselves, I believe, gives us a much greater window into what is going on inside of ourselves.