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Globelamp: Mixing Dreams With Reality On 'The Orange Glow'

Wednesday, 08 June 2016 Written by Laura Johnson

“She perfectly embodied Witch Baby, my purple-eyed, drum-playing, wild-hearted heroine,” is how author Francesca Lia Block describes Elizabeth le Fey, who makes music as Globelamp. Block’s much-loved Dangerous Angels novels have long provided creative impetus for Le Fey, whose world is one where flights of fancy and dark fairytale twists are the norm. “When I was a teenager I read the books and I always liked the imagery of being inside a globelamp,” Le Fey said. “She describes it as seeing the world lit up from the inside out.”

Globelamp was le Fey’s first musical project, but the road to her new record, ‘The Orange Glow’, has been one replete with twists and turns. In her early 20s she joined the Olympia punk band Meowtain and later Foxygen as a touring member. But things soon turned sour. As laid out by Blake Gillespie in a piece for Impose earlier this year, le Fey’s exit from the band was accompanied by a Tumblr post that went viral, allegations of abuse and later a restraining order obtained by Sam France, Foxygen’s frontman and le Fey’s ex-boyfriend.

Le Fey began focusing full time on Globelamp again and worked on her second album, which she terms “a reflection of the last year and a half and how I got out of it alive.” “ [‘The Orange Glow’] is like a weird metaphor,” she added. “It’s like that quote: ‘All that glitters is not gold.’ It sums up my life from 2012 to 2013. I was lured into something that I thought was really fun and cool, but it actually ended up being really destructive and hurting me a lot. It was a nightmare, but I got out of it OK.”

The same could be said of the new record. You are drawn into it, like sailors to a siren, by the sweet, psychedelic opening tracks Washington Moon and Controversial/Confrontational. But it soon delves into strange new territory, before again shifting to more stable ground. These diversions from the path and eventual arrival in a good place represent a resolution and le Fey’s survival.

It’s not surprising that the construction of ‘The Orange Glow’ is so considered.  It was recorded over the space of a year due to le Fey’s school commitments at Evergreen State College, an unconventional university where she studied Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Nietzsche, music, photography and philosophy.

These competing influences, the gift of time and the work of producer Joel Jerome played a major role in the realisation of her dreams. As well as manning the desk Jerome played drums and bass, while taking a back seat as le Fey dictated its creative direction. She feels that freedom was lacking on her 2014 debut, ‘Star Dust’, on which she worked with France as their partnership disintegrated. That time around her vocals were drowned out by sound effects and, as a singer-songwriter, she wanted her voice to dominate ‘The Orange Glow’.

“The second album with Joel was much more collaborative,” she said. “I love singing, love hearing people singing powerfully. That’s why the lyrics matter to me. When I’m singing I want to mean what I’m saying. It feels better for me to know that people can understand the lyrics better.”

It’s when Le Fey confesses that her initial aspirations were literary, rather than musical, that the focus on her lyrics makes most sense. “I’ve always written poems, I’ve always had journals,” she explained. “Usually I just flip through my journals and pick out parts and try and craft a song out of a line.”

Her musical influences soon took hold, though. Transfixed by David Bowie’s ability to craft whole environments in which his characters could play, le Fey also nods to Fleetwood Mac, Donovan, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen as important to her before focusing on Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd.  

“Loads of his songs were about fairytales,” she said. “His songs have weird time signatures and weird imagery. He really inspired me. I’ve always really been into people who create their own world. I like things that are imaginative and not just something you see in everyday life. To me that’s boring.”

Accordingly, le Fey’s music will continue to evolve over time. We are currently more likely to hear songs from ‘Star Dust’ than ‘The Orange Glow’ at one of her shows, as she wants her fans to hear those tracks as they were originally intended, leaving the album versions behind. Le Fey has also already written the songs for her next record and we shouldn’t expect it to follow the same path as ‘The Orange Glow’.  Here’s to taking a break from reality. Here’s to Globelamp.

'The Orange Glow' is due for release on June 10 through Wichita Recordings.


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