Week in Pop: Confident Hitmakers, Lulu Lewis, Nihilist Cheerleader

Sjimon Gompers

Dylan Hundley of NYC's own underground rock institution Lulu Lewis; photograph courtesy of Ilegalia Records & Pictures.

Lulu Lewis

Lulu Lewis’s Dylan Hundley; video still courtesy of Ilegalia Pictures.

In today’s era of sample & preset-plugged compositions, organic emulations of late twentieth century styles & aesthetics in the current era have become more of a rare phenomenon. While there are many that have the ability to mimic anachronistic audio facsimiles through lo-fi tricks & tweaks, it is even more unusual for a band to recreate & revise the arrangements, arts & attitudes in explicit detail from those previous epochs. Enter Harlem’s own Lulu Lewis comprised of couple Dylan Hundley (known for work with Whit Stillman) & Pablo Martin (also lead guitarist for Tom Tom Club) who possess the keen ability to recreate & redevelop the loudest & brightest components of 1970s-centered rock & roll in full high-fidelity that pulls no punches & makes no excuses. Lulu Lewis epitomizes vintage pop constructs in such a way that boomerangs those big productions of yesteryears forward to today’s audiences that can just barely recall the creative contributions of the 1990s.

Presenting the world premiere for Lulu Lewis’s “One Note Rock and Roll” video from Ilegalia Records and Pictures that sets the focus primarily on a fixed camera focused on Dylan hunkering down in her apartment. A song that is centered around mayhem, hysteria & outlandish paranoia is presented visually in accordance to the mood of being holed-up in the band’s abode while a sense of chaos threatens to interrupt the group’s sanctuary at any given moment. Contrasting the minimalism of the grainy & gritty fixed-camera view is the group’s big boisterous presentation that is complete with a big brass section & a rhythm organ that all alludes to the bedlam that has broken out. The emotional subtext is delivered expertly visually through Dylan’s gestures, facial gesticulations & intense stares as she recounts states of confusion, anarchy & emergencies that are all centered around the single, solitary subject matter of “One Note Rock and Roll”. The Ilegalia Pictures visual mirrors the primitivism implied by the track where a scenario involving the rest of the band scattered about leaves Lulu Lewis with a singular note to riff on—while matters grow more strange by the second. And still with all this, “One Note Rock and Roll” rides forward with a rich arrangement of various notes & chord-collections that resurrects the spirit of 1973 for our present year of 2018. As the song chugs onward, Dylan Hundley is seen playing up all the intensity implied in the song as strange & surreal situations teeter on the brink of absolute oblivion.

Lulu Lewis from left, Pablo Martin & Dylan Hundley; press photo courtesy of the band.

We caught up with Lulu Lewis’s Dylan Hundley & Pablo Martin in the following interview feature:

Tell us about the arrangement inspirations that informed “One Note Rock & Roll?”

Pablo: I used to listen to, DJ and also I used to write a lot of bossanova and other 60s South American stuff somewhere back in the 2000s here in NY. But then at some point I’ve got tired of it and decided to go back to rock & roll, to write more simple and more aggressive stuff. I was a bit revisiting those days when I titled the song, it’s a homage/joke on “One Note Samba” by Tom Jobim. One note constantly holding all the changes underneath not very complex but still a bit of a bitch to perform live, lyrically just talk about how we humans as are whole are nothing but a bunch idiots. Ultimately it’s more comedy than social commentary, things became way to be too stupid to even be considered dystopian anymore.

Describe the creative visual process with Ilegalia Pictures to create the minimalist, ridged & coarse rough take visual for the single.

Dylan: Ilegalia Pictures is us first off, its the moniker we use for our visuals. I make all our videos coming from a film & performance background and great love of the medium. I was thinking of a few things for this one. Polanski’s Repulsion, Travis Bickle alone is his room in Taxi Driver, Klute, even The Shining to some degree. I love solitary moments in film and performance. A gritty, fly on the wall perspective of someone going through something raw, private and a little uncomfortable but intuitively relatable. That was my aim for this.

Dylan Hundley of Lulu Lewis; photograph courtesy of Ilegalia Records & Pictures.

What else are you all working on right now?

Dylan: We are finishing our first LP, more videos and opening for Richard Lloyd of Television on April 6 at The Bowery Electric in NYC.

Pablo: Finishing the album. A few lyrics away, which is the hardest part, there is an atmospheric segment on it that I’m still writing on, but we’re pretty close.

Interested in hearing about the entire Lulu Lewis creative process & development approaches, as you all have such a tight yet radical take on late twentieth century modernist rock.

Pablo: We have some parameters to follow aesthetically but we try not get attached to any formula musically speaking. Don’t want to repeat tempos or structures styles along the whole thing, like it’s been happening since the 90s, so the challenge is to get all this different sounds and songs make it a cohesive piece, so millennials won’t get too confused by it.

Rocking out with Lulu Lewis’s Dylan Hundley; video still courtesy of Ilegalia Pictures.

What continues to keep you inspired out in the world right now?

Pablo: Right now? it’s hard, these are not very promising times, we have reached the special era of music where we have to clap when a top artist comes up with something barely better than the lowest common denominator, while there are millions of great artists out there you are never gonna reach. Socially it’s all very beginning of the century, uncertain and not very interesting. That’s discouraging but at the same time is inspiring to me, I feel that at least I’m writing the kind of music I want to listen to. In other words I’ll do it to add some comfort to my own little bubble.

Dylan: Art, always art, artists and people pushing their limits as humans and creative forces. You can come across this everyday where we live in New York thankfully. There is always something beautiful to see and be sparked by along with the coarseness and clamor that is city. This is what moves me most.

Dylan Hundley of Lulu Lewis; photo still courtesy of Ilegalia Pictures.

What are some of the most important things for everything from the arts, humanity, activism & other proactive platforms? Also any parting words of wisdom?

Pablo: To take risks and accept that rejection and criticism are part of the game, avoid falling into discouragement. Good advice is easy to give but hard to follow.

Dylan: In the end, just be honest, true and kind. However that finds you and you find it.

Listen to more from Lulu Lewis via Bandcamp & catch the band at NYC’s Bowery Electric April 6 with Richard Lloyd of Television.

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