INTERVIEW // Loz Keystone On Coping and Synths

I get a lot of heartfelt emails from artists telling the stories that inspired their newest single or album. Very few affect me the way this one did:

I started writing my album To Feel Love in the final weeks of my dad’s life in Summer 2014 following a two year battle with lung cancer.

The recording process didn’t start until just over a year later and the interim period had been a semi-conscious mess of intoxicated late nights and meaningless one-night-stands.

Recorded in my bedroom in South London, To Feel Love became a document of losing him, the effect of that loss, and the places in which I looked for comfort. Essentially, it became an album about sex and death.

“How Is It” and “Livid,” the first two singles from Keystone’s forthcoming album, are steeped in a sort of woozy loss. Absence and longing bubble up sharply through clouds of medicated synths. It’s rare that a song sounds quite so much like the thing that it’s about.
I asked Loz if he’d be willing to share some insights from the album.

 

Can you talk about the journey to writing this album and the intersection of music and grief as you experienced it? What compelled you to create music during this time?

I didn’t start writing To Feel Love until almost a year after my dad’s death and by that point I had become pretty messy.

Spending two years watching him die in fast-forward had left me strangely restless. Grief and chaos were never far from me but more surprisingly, and more tangibly, there was a kind of intense bottled boredom. All the hours sitting in painful silence at the hospital bed were over now and I went looking for something at the other end of the spectrum.

I found all the destructive activities that you might expect from someone in that situation.

The way it worked to start with was I’d get home late at night or early in the morning, too wired to make melodies or write words so I’d make drum beats on my pirated copy of Ableton. That’s the way I continued to make songs throughout – from the drums up.

Thematically, the album was always going to centre around my dad but what I didn’t expect was how much of it would end up exploring my nocturnal habits. In the end it’s become as much about sex and drugs as it has about him and his death. I like the jarring nature of those two worlds; one being fairly crass, the other much deeper, more sensitive, running in parallel across the album. 

Can you speak to your creative choices for this project – why music (as opposed other creative mediums), why synth music, why a solo project?  

It’s all born of necessity; it’s easy to get hold of incredible equipment if you have enough money to throw at it but the down side of that is that there’s a fair amount of music out there that’s all style and no heart. Most of my favourite music has a DIY feel to it – not having many resources at your disposal forces you to be creative so I guess you’re more likely to end up with something interesting and original. I didn’t have enough money or space to record many live instruments so a lot of the sounds you hear are free plug-ins that I’ve manipulated.

I don’t know why I chose music instead of a different art form. I’ve been making music since I was about 16. I’ve recorded at least 4 albums that I can think of (but in retrospect I’m pretty grateful they never got anywhere because, listening to them now, they’re mainly quite shit… ) When I started writing this thing I hadn’t made any music in about 4 years.

One of the hardest things as a creative is knowing when a project is “done.” I can only imagine that this is immeasurably more difficult when the centerpiece of your creative project is something like loss, which is so life altering and ongoing. How did you decide when the album was finished?

The album actually still isn’t finished. The two songs I’ve released so far are the only two that are completely done and even they might still change. Soundcloud lets you replace an audio file rather than uploading a new one from scratch so since they’ve been online I’ve updated the versions about 6 times already…

What’s the most important lyric you wrote on this album?

I don’t know if it’s the most important but the one that comes to mind is from Livid:

He’ll be alright

Won’t he

Look at me

He’ll be alright.


Loz is now in the process of finishing To Feel Love. There’s no release date for the album yet, but look for more music coming soon on his Soundcloud.

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