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Levator – Mistaking Telephone Poles for Grizzly Bears

Posted by July 27th, 2005 No Comments »

Sky Lynn drinks beer. We like beer. We like Sky Lynn. That makes two things in this picture we like.NadaMucho.com Interview – Levator
Q & A with Sky Lynn
Interview By Matt Ashworth

Levator is the solo project of Seattle multi-instrumentalist Sky Lynn. Her first album, Midnight, features 12 impeccably crafted songs on which she played every note herself. In addition to being extremely detailed (especially for a self-produced, self-recorded album), the songs on Midnight are diverse yet cohesive, ranging from building rockers (“Disease”) to gentle piano pop (“White Hair”) to soulful wails (“Hush”).

In preview of Levator’s July 28 show at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard, I caught up with Sky.

NM: You’re a hugely talented multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter type. How’s that work?
SL: Ha! Well, thank you. I think it works for me because I love all types of music, so over the years I’ve kept adding instruments that allowed me to express myself in different styles, but because of that I suffer from sleep deprivation frequently, sometimes to the point of hallucinating. The other day I thought I saw a grizzly bear on the side of the road and when I shook my head in disbelief and looked again…it was a telephone pole!

NM: Does this semi-hallucinogenic state contribute negatively or positively to your songwriting? Do you have any songs about grizzly bears and polar bears?
SL: I think it has a positive influence, although it does cloud my memory so I have to record all my ideas while I’m working on a song.

Sky Lynn drinks beer. We like beer. We like Sky Lynn. That makes two things in this picture we like.NadaMucho.com Interview – Levator
Q & A with Sky Lynn
Interview By Matt Ashworth

Levator is the solo project of Seattle multi-instrumentalist Sky Lynn. Her first album, Midnight, features 12 impeccably crafted songs on which she played every note herself. In addition to being extremely detailed (especially for a self-produced, self-recorded album), the songs on Midnight are diverse yet cohesive, ranging from building rockers (“Disease”) to gentle piano pop (“White Hair”) to soulful wails (“Hush”).

In preview of Levator’s July 28 show at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard, I caught up with Sky.

NM: You’re a hugely talented multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter type. How’s that work?
SL: Ha! Well, thank you. I think it works for me because I love all types of music, so over the years I’ve kept adding instruments that allowed me to express myself in different styles, but because of that I suffer from sleep deprivation frequently, sometimes to the point of hallucinating. The other day I thought I saw a grizzly bear on the side of the road and when I shook my head in disbelief and looked again…it was a telephone pole!

NM: Does this semi-hallucinogenic state contribute negatively or positively to your songwriting? Do you have any songs about grizzly bears and polar bears?
SL: I think it has a positive influence, although it does cloud my memory so I have to record all my ideas while I’m working on a song.

NM: I know of at least three projects you have going – Levator, Max Fischer and Blue Light Curtain. Give me a full list and rundown of which talents you contribute to each band.
SL: I did everything on the Levator record, but I’ve playing with a drummer and a moog player and they will also be accompanying me on tour! In Max Fischer I play the drums very hard. With Blue Light Curtain I play drums and do some vocals. I also play bass and guitar and do some backing vocals for Robert Deeble, who will be joining me at the Sunset on July 28.

NM: Do you have a “day job” on top of all that? How do you do it?
SL: Yeah, I have a regular 8 to 5 day job. Once a month I’ll catch up, which means I’ll sleep for about 20 hours straight. Besides that, I try to take vitamins, eat healthy food, drink coffee, floss my teeth..

NM: You recently released your first solo album under the name Levator. Tell me about the name, then the album.
SL: Levator has a few definitions. One of them being a surgical instrument for lifting the depressed fragments of a fractured skull and the second one being a muscle that raises a bodily part. It sparks a few different pictures in my mind that I find pretty entertaining. The album’s twelve tracks long and includes a little bit of everything. The songs range from acoustic guitar based tracks, to multi-layered distorted guitars, to piano/organ based songs. It took me 12 months from start (buying a computer/software) to finish (the CD release party).

NM: The songs on Midnight seem very detailed and carefully crafted, which isn’t always the case with this sort of “DIY” type of project. How do you recreate this in a live setting?
SL: Thank you! I totally take that as a compliment. I have built a very large pedal board and carefully selected certain pedals over the years that allow me to not only create a wide range of tones, but also to create live loops of guitar and voice. So I sing all my vocal harmonies live and can play off my guitar with other guitar textures or even other instruments.

NM: What’s your favorite song on the record, and why?
SL: Oooh, that’s a hard question. I’m going to go with Mill Creek because I have very fond memories of where I wrote that song and also of recording it. I wrote it years ago on my favorite little nylon stringed guitar. I was on my way to the ocean only taking the back roads. It was gray and misty, passing through very small towns on narrow lanes. And then in the studio I was able to produce an idea I’ve had stored in my head for quite some time. I took a section of the song and recorded the chords string by string with an ebow. I wanted a symphonic sound with the guitar but when combined actually only playing a chord. I then separated the tracks of recorded strings, three on the right and three on the left and continued to pan them back and forth throughout the phrase.

NM: I’ve heard people compare your stuff to both Cat Power and PJ Harvey.
Were they influences? Who else has had a big impact on what you do?

SL: That’s funny. I get that a lot and can see why. But honestly, I just started listening to them in the last year or two. I guess they influence me as much as anything else I hear. A big impact on what I do? I’d have to say it started with records I pulled off of my parents’ shelves: The Beatles, Neil Young, The Doors, Led Zeppelin. From there it moved to The Cure and Nirvana. And now, I suffer from a disease that requires me to buy new albums every weekend.


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