Ebony Lamb On Her Ethereal New Album, New Zealand, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and More | Hype | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

Ebony Lamb On Her Ethereal New Album, New Zealand, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and More

This interview with Ebony Lamb about her new self-titled album was conducted over email.

Ebony Lamb On Her Ethereal New Album, New Zealand, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and More | Hype | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS
Interview Date:
November 2023
Stream Ebony Lamb:

Where’d you grow up? How’d that environment shape your musical identity?

I grew up in Hawkes Bay, it’s a region with a few small towns, lots of time, pretty harsh coastline, rolling hills, flat plains, around twenty years behind everything. There’s something about the East coast and that raw sparseness that’s always “home” to me. There was a lot of experimental music happening, not many came to play in the region we people made their own.

When was the moment you’d say you first fell in love with music?

From the beginning, definitely around 4-5 years old and being allowed to put records on and sing along as much as I liked, my Dad was really into music.

Which bands/artists have been your biggest musical influences?

Portishead, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Gillian Welch, The Pixies, classical, lots of jazz, blues, indie and then there’s some great New Zealand heroes like Tiny Ruins. 

How would you describe your music?

Real / Eclectic / Open / Deep Cuts / Indie Folk / Pop? Help?

How has your sound evolved over the years?

I used to be in an alt-country band, and it was always a really strong group of different tastes coming together, and around a time where that movement was really loved. My sounds always been steeped in the songwriting and melodies that come to me in those those quiet writing times. I definitely wanted to move out into other spaces, sound explorations. I find identification a bit challenging, as it’s all about making the songs the best they can be however that is, I think I know once I get there.

What’s your general creative process when it comes to crafting a song?

Quietly writing alone, usually I’m a bit “full” and needing to just get something out, sometimes it just rolls out out in a couple of minutes, sometimes it’s a great line waiting for the rest of the song. I write at my kitchen table, mornings are the best. I only share them once I’m sure, and then my partner Gram Antler and I go through the song a few times, shifting chords, keys etc., and together we often get that last bit worked out. I’m pretty private about my inner world, so it can be a while, but once I know the song is done, I love trying it out with others.

You’re also a photographer, how do you balance those two endeavors, and do they bleed into one another?

Currently it’s not very balanced, and I’m still working it out, but my photographic world is a really strong but quiet voice, and music is much more outward, so between them they seem to find that balance in my personality. Both a deeply rewarding and expand my world to things beyond just one vocation, the plan is to bring them together as much as possible. 

How would you describe the New Zealand music scene these days?

Pretty excellent, great artists are getting stuff done all the time. I think for a small country we have an amazing and wide style of music makers. Nadia Reid, Tiny Ruins, Aldous Harding, Hannah Everingham, Marlon Williams, Delaney Davidson, Yumi Zouma, UMO etc.

Congrats on the release of your album! How’s the feedback been so far?

Thank you, it’s been really wonderful.

What are some of the driving themes in the album? What do you want listeners to take from it?

Connection, small things that are important, observations of ourselves, others, and the world are good, that’s how we identify what’s important and what’s crap.

What was the experience like crafting the album?

Really excellent, the work was so much better once my producers were involved. 

This took 5 years to write, how did it all come together in the end? Did it change a lot over that time?

Well it wasn’t an album until the end, it was a collection of songs that needed some belief, some proper editing, and letting them all settle down and be losers and winners and be ok with it. I think I just had to begin to be open at a whole new level, and say, I trust myself and I trust these great people I’m working with, then it was way easier. 

This was your first solo project, how was that experience? How would you compare it to your previous time as part of a band?

I knew what was coming, but I didn’t expect to be so paralyzed about what the sound would be like, I opened up the doors and it was like “right, what do I sound like”? I loved both, but it’s easier for me to keep my focus much more single and believe the path it takes.

What was it like working with Bic Runga & Kody Nielson from Unknown Mortal Orchestra? What did they bring to the table for you creative wise?

They are exceptional creatives of the highest caliber, and they really supported me to believe in the work by just working with me. Both Bic & Kody have an amazing sense of feel and genius talent to work as producers. They brought the best out of me. Bic plays bass on the record, and Kody is the drums and synths. I play electric guitar and Gram plays some lead guitar parts. Kody also mixed and mastered the album to tape.

Do you have a favorite track (or tracks) from the album? Any tracks that are standing out as favorites from the listeners?

I really love the whole album, each track has its own feel and yet they live together as a full scope of work. I love “Come, Put A Record On” but TBH I can’t have favorites because they change everyday. I think the opening track “My Daughter My Sister My Son” is a good start to the record. I’m getting feedback about different tracks, so it’s a spectrum and that’s pretty rewarding.

We like to say to be a creative and put yourself out there to the public eye that you have to be fearless. Do you agree with that?

I’d say I have to have faith in the work, and the long journey it takes to get to that public space, then it’s more of a stepping into faith from fear. 

Any special plans for the future? Tour? Shows? Festivals?

Currently mid New Zealand national tour, and many plans for the coming year, especially to go overseas and play my songs for the first time, is hot on the list!

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

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