Across the last three years, Lonelyspeck has emerged as one of Australia’s most creative producers.
After a quietly acclaimed debut in 2014’s Presence EP, Lonelyspeck – the project of Adelaide-based singer, songwriter, producer and visual artist Sione Teumohenga – set about crafting a more focused follow-up, and 2017’s Lave delivered on all fronts, with singles getting added to radio stations around the country including triple j, a spot on Laneway Festival, and a string of support slots for artists as diverse as Perfume Genius, Nosaj Thing and The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Not one to slow down, Lonelyspeck has spent their time since 2018 morphing and shaping their new musical direction and finding a way to showcase the unique blend of genres that have influenced Sione right across their life. That’s where we find their third record Abyssal Body.
Where Lave is delicate, Abyssal Body is an entirely different beat. Showcasing an evolution that resists genre constraints while maintaining a strong pop sensibility, it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat with every turn.
The EP is a homage to Lonelyspeck’s musical background – from 2000s metal and alternative rock to hyper-pop artists like Charli XCX and SOPHIE. This is pop, but just not in the way you might define it. Throughout its 24 minutes you’ll find moments of punk rock, of dreamy vocals, and of brooding production, at other times you’re met with glistening synths or pop hooks.
We’ve picked it as our feature record , but Abyssal Body is Lonelyspeck’s journey, it is the story they are finally ready to tell, so who better to hear from than Lonelyspeck themself.
From the beginning
Lonelyspeck: “When I was little I used to play on an electronic keyboard we had at home, making simple little songs and figuring out tunes by ear. I never thought much of it, but in retrospect I think it was quite formative. When I was 15, I picked up guitar in the same way, just figuring things out on my own, and got really into it. I started recording songs a year or two later and fell in love with the recording process.”
What you’ll hear
LS: “It’s pop music. But I think of it as pop music made out of things that aren’t pop music. At least that’s the aim, sonically. I feel like it’s a constant process of figuring out how to try new things while still sounding like they make sense in the Lonelyspeck world.”
LS: “I understand myself a lot better…I’ve gotten better at accepting myself. The process of getting here is a lot of what Abyssal Body is about. I’m also not where I hope to be eventually, I have a lot more to learn and process, and also it’s neverending. But that’s okay. That’s also what Abyssal Body is about.”
Inside the creative process
LS: “It was a pretty long and elaborate process because the EP is a lot more conceptual. I have some pretty hectic moodboards and pages and pages of notes about the themes and how it all ties together. I basically treated it like worldbuilding which was really fun and challenging. There’s a lot more to the Abyssal Body world than what I could fit into the music and artwork.
“Each record has gotten more conceptually ambitious, more pop and more lyrically direct, as I’ve become more confident in myself and my ideas. The lyrics on my first EP were really obscured by metaphors and effects, and I also wrote about stuff I couldn’t see myself writing about now, like having crushes on people. I don’t like writing about other people in that way anymore for some reason. Something I started to do with Lave, which really defined the way I wrote Abyssal Body, was trying to write more to validate and empower myself.”
Influences & inspiration
LS: “Linkin Park and Deftones were major influences on the tone of the EP. I took a lot from listening to the production and songwriting on Hybrid Theory and Around the Fur. Charli XCX has also become one of my all-time favourite artists over the past few years, so she’s inevitably been a huge inspiration. Not just her sound but her approach to pop music. I was also really inspired by My Chemical Romance and the way they would create these big fantastical worlds in their albums but they still felt like personal stories. A lot of the rock influences are music I loved growing up which was an intentional choice.”
Tell us the story
LS: “Abyssal Body is a concept record with a central thread of having to find truth and identity in spaces between established narratives, and the effects of that disconnection, which is something I feel has had a deep effect on who I am for my whole life but I only started to understand as an adult. I’ve imagined the between space as the deep ocean abyss, and the process of coming to understand oneself as a journey towards land. The ‘abyssal body’ is the placeless, unseen self of the between space.”
Down memory lane
LS: “I found a very childlike sense of fun in making songs like ‘Drown’, ‘Brine’ and ‘My Angel’. The drops and riffs always made me laugh out of cathartic enjoyment and I knew that meant I was going in the right direction because a lot of my favourite music does that for me.”
Overcoming struggle town
LS: “Figuring out how to mix this kind of music was one of the biggest challenges because metal and electronic pop music basically have no middle ground in terms of their tonal characteristics. I spent a long time trying to find a sweet spot where the drums had that dry electronic snappiness without feeling too light amongst the heavy guitars, while the guitars had a sort of synthetic brightness that felt at home with the electronic production without being piercing or flat. Hopefully I got it right.”
For the love of music
LS: “I feel through music and sound I can communicate and portray my feelings in the most accurate way. I think sound carries more feeling than anything else for me. I feel such a sense of space and freedom in playing with sound.”
LS: “I’ve done some very cool things but I don’t really think about things in terms of achievements. Most of all, I’m just proud of my work and I really value the relationships I’ve formed through doing this.”
LS: “I hope people find it fun and cathartic. I hope it’s heard by people who can relate to the feelings and experiences that led to me making it.”
Say it in a sentence
LS: “Abyssal Body is…nu metal girl summer”
Lonelyspeck – Brine
“Brine really set the tone for the direction of the release. It all started from the guitar riff, which I turned into an 808 line but then ended up bringing back for the outro.”
Lonelyspeck – My Angel Goes Before Me
“I recorded the chorus vocals of this one at a slower tempo and then sped them up because I wanted them to be really snappy. The little piece of a distorted beat at the very end is part of the slowed down track I recorded the vocals to.”
Lonelyspeck – What If You Don’t
“I won’t say what it is, but there’s a tiny but blatant Fall Out Boy homage in this track that I don’t know if anyone has clocked just yet. It always felt perfect so I had to keep it in there.”
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