It’s perhaps a cosmic coincidence that Toronto electronica outfit L CON—led by writer and producer Lisa Conway—has put out a new single “The Light-Years,” just in time for the total lunar eclipse. The track is a remix of the song that appears on L CON’s latest album Moon Milk, released last fall to rave reviews for, in part, its use of celebrated author Italo Calvino’s book Cosmicomics as a framework.
The short story collection spurred Conway’s already present fascination with the celestial void, resulting in Moon Milk’s spacey synth-driven psychedelia. The album’s groundwork was laid during the summer of 2013 when Conway was based in Sackville, NB.
With a modest set up in a derelict music hall, consisting of just an electric guitar and a laptop, she spent significant time crafting sounds that approximated the isolation of outer space, which NOW Magazine described as “a challenging listen, weighty and far more satisfying as a whole than in parts. But the payoff opened doors to new worlds and ways of thinking.”
For the remix of “The Light-Years,” Conway enlisted Toronto dream-pop duo Twin Rains, consisting of Christine Stoesser and Jay Merrow, who built on the song’s chilly pulse and insistent melody, creating something that could accurately be called space-pop. It’s easy to imagine the song being something Calvino and other pioneering sci-fi writers could have envisioned as a music of the future.
L CON, which also includes Karen Ng (Andy Shauf), Andrew Collins (The Skeletones Four), and Jordan Howard (Jim Guthrie), next performs live at Silence in Guelph ON on Sept. 23. You can find out more at lcon.bandcamp.com.
Conway is also the singer and lyricist for acclaimed orchestral pop band Del Bel. The third Del Bel album, 111, was released in April.
How did you end up working with Twin Rains on the remix of “The Light-Years”?
Christine [Stoesser] and I met in a production workshop at the Canadian Music Centre—part of their EQ: Women in Electronic Music program—and we hit it off and traded records. She asked if Twin Rains could remix this song in particular, and I was super flattered and obviously immediately agreed.
Moon Milk has been out for a while now. What's your perspective on it now?
We live in such a fast-paced world. Moon Milk hasn't even been out for a year yet! I'm proud of that album, especially the arrangements. I spent many an hour on those string and horn scores, and I think that with every record I continue to grow and improve my craft.
Moon Milk was also the first album that my partner Andrew and I worked on together as a studio project—we've both been doing things individually for many years—and we discovered that we were able to conduct extremely efficient and yet informal sessions when working as a team. We've continued to collaborate with other artists in an engineering and production capacity at our studio since.
What's been the biggest change in your life over the past year?
I've been living in the country north of Toronto full-time, and that's been a bit of an adjustment. I'm able to go into our studio and make noise at any hour, but our closest neighbours are herons and cows, so there's not much room for seeing friends or shows on a whim. It's likely age, but I feel the most confident technically I ever have—I recorded and produced my new record myself. Obviously, learning is an ongoing life-long process, but it feels nice to finally be brave enough to tell people I create and write and record things.
What do you recall about your first time performing in public?
I was too young to remember it. I was likely playing violin in my parent's folk band, but I remember the first time I performed a song I'd written. I think I was about twelve, and had only been playing the guitar for a month or two, and signed up at an open mic. Unsurprisingly, it didn't go very well. I cried afterwards and swore I'd never perform anything I'd written ever again.
If you could change anything about the music business, what would it be?
I would change how white and male-dominated the music industry is. People of colour, women, and LGBTQIA artists have to work extra hard to get opportunities or be recognized. I mean, in 45 years, only four women have won the Producer of the Year Award at the Junos, and zero have won the Engineer prize?
There are so many talented people out there. We can do better than that.