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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ex Lucy Dreams bandmates hone a darker aesthetic with Khahi Cloud

Khahi Cloud: Graham Tavel (left) and Lloyd Wingard.
  • Chad Radford
  • Khahi Cloud: Graham Tavel (left) and Lloyd Wingard.

Almost as quickly as word spread that Lucy Dreams had broken up in the midst of recording a new EP this summer, Graham Tavel was dropping hints about another project in the works. Last week that other project took form as a five-song demo bearing the name Khahi Cloud which finds Tavel settling in on drum programming and keyboards while Lloyd Wingard sings and plays bass. The name is an earnest nod to a song by Japanese no wave artist Sympathy Nervous, but the influence is in name and spirit only as the demo finds the two delving deeper into the dark and slurred aesthetics of their previous group. However, this time they’re taking their time and allowing this new sound to develop naturally after receiving so much unanticipated attention with Lucy Dreams.

Chad Radford: What’s up with Lucy Dreams, and will the final EP be released?

Graham Tavel: It’s done. It was fun, but there were so many opinions in that band — everyone was going in different directions, and then when Jacob [Armando] stopped playing with us it just wasn’t the same band any more. So we finished up the shows we had booked and called it a day. We have four songs that are pretty close to being done, and we might put them out on Bandcamp. It sucked that we had to do it, but the reality is we started this band during our senior year in high school and it went on for way longer, and went way farther than any of us thought it would. When we stopped playing it wasn’t a sad thing for me. It was like, this has been an awesome two years, let’s see what else we can do now.

Lloyd Wingard: Now we have an idea about how to be in a band. We had no idea what we were doing when we started this, we were just playing bar shows, and playing every week.

GT: Yes, every week, and now we realize that we don’t have to say yes to every show that we’re offered. Recording-wise too — we’ve been working on these songs for five-six months. It was so hard to not release them as we went along, but we thought no, let’s do this the right way, and we went through like three or four sound changes.

LW: Yeah, and I’d say there were at least 10 songs that we scrapped. We just wanted to be sure that we came up with songs that we were happy about.

GT: We'll start playing soon, but we wanted to get this out and maybe have some physical copies at the show. ... It's good to have the sort of booking contacts that we made with Lucy Dreams.

LW: We don't have to start at WonderRoot again.

GT: In high school that was a huge deal! But when we played that first show at 529 with Abby Gogo, it was like, 'Oh my God, all of the sudden this is real!'

Then you played the New Year's Eve show with Deerhunter and Black Lips ...

LW: Yeah, that seemed like the logical next step ...

There are no guitars anywhere throughout these new songs, correct?

LW: There’s no guitar, but I use the bass like a guitar. I like the range it builds.

GT: ... And with the keyboards it’s easy to fill in the high-end or the low-end or any of the spaces left by not having a guitar in the song.

Aside from that, and stripping the personnel down to just the two of you, what’s changed on a fundamental level since Lucy Dreams broke up?

LW: We spend a lot more time thinking things through and planning things out. Lucy Dreams was like everyone throwing ideas at a wall and letting it all form into a sound. I’d write a song, we’d jam on it for 30 minutes and then we’d talk about it, verse-chorus, verse-chorus, that sort of thing. Now we have to really think structures through and count beats because we’re using a drum machine.

GT: For me, I’m a super synth nerd and now I can actually use all of this stuff in a band setting, rather than it just being me releasing random thought stuff on Bandcamp.

Also, we wanted to see how far we can push it, like play a noise-Eyedrum kind of show, and then play a show at the Star Bar, and access both of those crowds. Lloyd and I are really into a lot of the Eyedrum events and noise and things like that, but at the same time we really like songs. So we wanted to see how we can we get at both of those things and allow them to be accessible without compromising quality.

I’d say that you’ve uncovered a much darker sound along the way.

GT: Personally speaking, I have no desire to be a party band, at all. I have all of this awesome old equipment, and you can use it to make more than just dance music.

LW: At first we were doing stuff that sounded more like Lucy Dreams, but I love dark music, and when someone writes a serious song, it’s a lot easier for me to get behind it, rather than a pop song that isn’t about anything...

Can you give me an example of the the kind of song you’re talking about?

LW: I’d say anything that Ian Curtis wrote is the kind of thing I’m talking about. I love what he wrote, and no one in Atlanta who’s not a metal band, is doing anything that’s all that dark of a sound, especially in the noise, pop area, which makes it a cool space to fill.

You’re sticking to the two-piece lineup for now?

LW: Definitely keeping it to a two-piece, but we’ve toyed with the idea of having a drummer, or adding some percussive stuff. We could feasibly do it but we don’t have to.

GT: We will never have a laptop on stage, ever. That’s our only thing. It so bums me out to see an electronic band or artist and there’s this big glowing Apple logo staring you in the face. I understand that people generally put a lot of work into their shows, but for me, it’s a total bummer when I see that. We’ll have tapes and probably use the drum machine live, but we’re still playing around with how it’s all going to work.

We’ve been playing together since our sophomore year in high school. Trexxx-a-corn was our first band — there’s a Bandcamp page for that — which is another place for random things we’ve recorded. I’m all about putting everything online and if people like what they hear they can like it and keep listening, and if they hate it they never have to listen to it again. But as far as being two people, it’s not like there are tons of ideas trying to mash into this one thing. Lucy Dreams was a five-piece and having so many ideas trying to get in made things really difficult.

LW: Doing it like this forces us to think about what really needs to be put into a song, and what doesn’t need to go into a song. That was kind of the problem we had with Lucy Dream: When we were recording the EP there were too many things that I didn’t think were necessary, but we had to include them because we were a five-piece.

GT: With this kind of dynamic, sometimes Lloyd will write a song and I can just build around it, or I can totally write a song and he’ll add his part and it’s not like every song has to be written mutually. Sometimes Lloyd will have a song all mapped out and I’ll just add a keyboard part, or he’ll tell me the direction, or conversely I’ll write out a song and tell him what to do. It doesn’t have to be a group effort, which helps keep the ideas focused.

I want to make sure that we do something with this band. When we were doing Lucy Dreams things just got to be too much. We weren’t ready for the follow-up, and with this I’d rather have a slower progression: Build a good fan base and a catalogue of music, then release a first album that is a logical extension of what we’ve been working toward — take our time with this and let it soak in.

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