It’s been almost a year since we learned that Margaret Lane, lead singer of dark, shifting indie rock quartet Hildur Victoria, would be disbanding the group to focus on her solo material. In that project Lane’s vocal delivery was affected and almost theatrical, and it was clear that she was a talented and restless creative spirit. After many months of self-reflection and experimentation, Lane has re-emerged with a new track, video, and news that she’ll be recording a full-length record of fresh songs.
Between setting up a Kickstarter account for her new album and finishing demos of her new tracks, Lane took some time to answer a few questions about her latest project.
First things first, we need to catch-up — it’s been a year since Hildur Victoria split up. What have you been up to?
Presently I’m spinning Watch the Throne “***** in Paris.” … Probably the 10th time this week. Woooooo! Every journal entry I’ve ever written begins with the date, time and the track I’m spinning…so in that tradition:
Watch the Throne “***** in Paris”
The last 12 months have been some of the most marked months of my life. In truth, I don’t think I could have ever arrived at this moment had it not been for the last year; stepping out as a solo artist. Hildur was my baby and my soul project. But I couldn’t pause for but a brief moment post-split before I was back to the grind. I spent the entire summer of 2011 demoing tracks on GarageBand on a broken Macbook. I became a recluse. I immersed myself in composing, rhyming, and beat making. It was important for me to manifest my abilities and a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter and remember that I have everything I need to make many records to come.
I began working with amateur producer Marcus Rice in late summer 2011, recording vocals and demos. He and I collaborated in a recent mixed-media project with fashion designer Danielle Everine and DP Kevin Russell to create the tune and video for “Shangri La.” It’s super gratifying to put out this piece of art. The video is as good as the tune. And after having waited for so long to put out this work, I couldn’t be happier. We’re really proud of this work.
What do you feel are the biggest changes you’ve made in that time?
I sold all my gear. It was only me and my broken Mackbook, a patio, and Garageband. I arrived back to a place where I realized I had everything I need to make many records to come. There was no one around to tell me they dug what I made. I just wrote what healed me and challenged myself to rhyme, construct pop tunes, adjust my lyrics…try to say what I meant and not hide behind this canvas of hidden secrets in the words.
Like anything else in life, we have phases in the music that turns us on. For me, the constant has always been my love of beats. I have grown fascinated with the transition of more mainstream music coming back to what is “real.” People are craving honesty and challenging what that means in music. I’ve got a mind to feed the people with fat beats and captivating melodies, and subconsciously add metaphysical elements in lyrically. That’s why I love Lil’ Wayne, Jay, Kanye, and Kendirck Lamar right now. They are all genius in their own right. They reach the masses. They take risks, not all successful. But they also produce amazing tracks or have a lyric line that leaves you breathless.
I want to be the soundtrack to someone’s life.
What was your inspiration for the new video?
The inspiration came out of the work friend and fashion designer created for Cliche’s Avoid the Grey Fashion show in February. Danielle and I had been talking about collaborating on a winter art project, and when she was asked to create a piece for this show, we decided this would be the perfect venue. We shot in a box with tiny peep-holes cut through. The tune wasn’t complete when we shot the video. The video was inspiration for the tune, and vice versa. The voyeuristic element inspired this dark-sexiness and high-fashion feel. My longtime friend, Splice editor, and Northern Outpost crew member Kevin Russell signed on to shoot the video. One camera, Danielle, Marcus and I. It’s a true testament to how many talented people we have and how accessible they are in this city. What we came up with was amazing, and all FREE. I’m a lucky gal.
I know you mentioned being inspired by R&B. Are there specific artists that motivated you to try out this new sound?
I wouldn’t call this a new sound as much as another side of the music of my soul. I’ve realized that it is all me…the somber piano/vocal release I did called Desolate Walk EP, the mathy/thrash rock of Hildur, playing drums in noise bands, making covers of Bone Thugs tunes. I’m an ‘80s baby and a Gemini (a twin in real life!) I feel such a strong connection with my generation…We are the last of the music listeners of the pre-internet era. I remember my brother, sister and I sneaking downstairs to watch a Smashing Pumpkins video on MTV or watch the Box. My sound is reflective of my generation in-so-far as an homage…an homage to the pioneers of the pre-glossy era, where Aaliyah wore Hilfigers low and we listened to the radio more than we watched a video. We bought a single on cassette because we could listen to that song on repeat…we talked more of the human condition and what it meant to be alive than what it meant to be at the top.
The inspiration is more reminiscent of what it meant to groove to something. But with my own take, the sound will be more progressive than reflective on the past. The Vets inspire me in my R&B tunes, as does TLC.
Tell me about working with Marcus Rice. How did you meet? How have his beats influenced your songwriting and overall aesthetic?
When Marcus and I met, we just dug what each other was doing. I showed him some of my Chihiro demos I’d been working on, and he showed me some beats. We both wanted to keep on our writing and recording, and his style of beat making was melodic and hard. I’m a drummer at heart, so his ability to push through beats inspired me. I could lend me composition, instrumentation, and vocals skills, so it was a great match. When you put musicians together who both want a great product, interesting things happen. He’d come through with a vocal idea and it could change the course of the song. It was a great exercise in trust for us both. We had to speak up and be clear, let up when it came time to compromise, and keep assertive on an idea you believe in. This was also his first recording experience in a pro studio, so when it came time to master, his eyes were wide. I think this has reassured him if he reads everything he can, interns, gets on the grind, he has the inherent talent and could be a great producer. I don’t think we could have written a better tune had it not been for the interplay between our friendship, our desire to get our music heard, our quest for perfection on this tune, and the time, work and pain it took just to finish this project. Tension makes for great music. Wouldn’t change it for anything. I feel stronger and more inspired to take my own record on. We recorded in a tiny apartment with broken gear, one working speaker, etc. But we had a blast.
What’s the plan for the new album? I see you are launching a Kickstarter. Will that cover recording costs? When do you expect to have the record finished?
My Kickstarter will be launching May 9! I’m pledging $2,500…which to me, having been unemployed for the last year, is just an insane amount of money! But I know it can be done. I went into debt with the bank to put this track out because I believe in it that much, and because this comes first to me. That money will cover all recording costs. The plan is to demo in Ableton with my pad and a bunch of live instruments. 808 Heavy. Even though I’ve plenty of demos from the last year, I’ve a mind to hole up for a month and make the record. It’s so liberating to be the only band member! And my set up is very portable, so if I can travel a bit and write, I will. Then I’ll take it to my “Malone/Stockton Dream Team” engineer/producer Brett Bullion (Near North Studio) and Huntley Miller (HM Mastering). I’m hoping for a release by late 2012. Then hopefully blow up, travel the world, play shows and shows, make records, write tracks for artists, do a track with Ye, go on a date with Kimbra, play in front of 100,000 people, be the host/musical guest on SNL, buy but my dad a new set of golf clubs and get mom enough room to plant all the flowers she wants. Siiiigh.
Are there any overarching lyrical themes on the new record? What else can we expect from the new songs?
You can expect booty. Beat driven, experimental, captivating music…a record with the melodic integrity of everything I’ve done in the past, but elevated. You’ll hear me try a lot of new things…I want people to say, “Oh, what?? I knew she could do it but I didn’t know she could do it like THAT…” The last year of my life has been wrought with a lot of deception, a lot of loss of trust in people…a lot of loneliness and heartache. But I’ve never stopping hustling. I’ve only had myself to motivate myself and keep me up. I’ve never stopped going hard and writing great music, I’ve just become unshakable in my belief in myself. I guess I’m just about not talking till you throw it down. Action over intention. I am me and I feel good about who I’m becoming. I spent a lot of months feeling completely kicked down. I love what I do and love people too hard, but I decided I don’t want to live life as a victim of circumstance. We all have reasons as to why we should think we aren’t good enough and can’t have the life we want, but this release is my rejection of all that. I still believe in people and love collaborating, but now is my time to invest that love in myself and my potential as a musician. I’ve just grown a lot and I think you’ll hear that strength and light shine through in the music. Lyrically, it won’t dwell. Where I’m headed, what I’m destined for, is far greater than the sum of all my tragedies. Lyrically, I just want you to know I understand what it means to be a human being.
Will you be assembling a live band, or performing solo?
I haven’t decided yet!! I’ve been so lucky to connect with so many talented local musicians, that I feel when that time comes, I can build the most killer list group of players. My ultimate goal is to be able to do both. Throw up a computer, a launchpad, a mic, and go…or to put on incredible ensemble performances. The only difference is this time around, I’m gonna run the ship. I’ve given my all trying to make my dream the dream of a collective. This time, it’s just me. Me and a handful of friends.