Name: Uèle Lamore
Occupation: Composer, conductor, guitarist
Nationality: Franco-American
Current release: Uèle Lamore's latest composition "The First Tree", a collaboration with Gracy Hopkins, is out now. It is the first single off her upcoming debut full-length Loom, scheduled for release in early 2022 on XXIM.
Recommendations: The novel 'Salamander Wars' by Karel Capek. And the novel 'Dune' by Frank Herbert that I was encouraged to read by a friend prior to the release of the Villeneuve movie, I must say I was really moved by this book. It is a true masterpiece of science-fiction.

If you enjoyed this interview with Uèle Lamore  and would like to know more about her work, visit her official homepage. She is also on Instagram, and Facebook.

Uèle Lamore is part of the family of artists at XXIM, Sony's new label for upcoming modern classical composers. Her colleagues there include Eydís Evensen, Olivia Belli, Lambert and Stimming.

[Read our Eydís Evensen interview]
[Read our Lambert interview]
[Read our Stimming interview]
[Read our Olivia Belli interview]

When did you start composing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I started composing music around the time that I picked up the electric guitar: so, my early teens.

I was lucky as a guitar player to be around learning the instrument at the time where there was a massive new wave of “guitar music”, meaning bands like The Strokes, The Arctic Monkeys, Razorlight etc … It made it really fun because the songs were easy to play and you could quickly write your own song emulating theirs.

At the same time, at home my dad listened to loads of Classic Southern rock, stuff like Creedence Clearwater Revival, or The Allman Brothers, and also a lot of classic r’n’b and soul, especially coming from the Shaolin Soul compilations. And there was my brother, who had a small rap crew. They would be listening to super cool rap music, Nas, Jay-Z, the Wu Tang … And also music from the “super producers” that really were shining at the time for their work in the studio: Kanye, Timbaland, and the crew for N.E.R.D.

I wouldn’t be able to say what attracted me so strongly to it, it still remains a mystery. I only know that it has always been a central part of my life, just as essential and natural as eating or breathing.

For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?

I think that for me, I was surrounded by so many genres that I loved that it was really hard to learn by emulating one style only, and blending different styles was always pretty messy sounding for me.

So, I mainly focused on listening. What was it in a particular track that made it so moving? What was the essence of it that I loved so much? So, it was pretty much a long time of listening to a lot of music, digesting everything, working hard on studying aspects of music that I knew I had to know to create that thing I sensed was gestating in my thoughts.

After that it is basically just a question of doing, failing again and again, and not stopping until you have a sound that feels special and a true representation of yourself.

How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?

I don’t think it is my sense of identity that influences my creativity, as I would hardly be able to say what my identity is. I'm French and American by birth, yet my mother is not French but from the Republic of Central Africa, and my dad is Italian Irish.

I grew up speaking two languages surrounded by a self-created family made of friends that came from different places and different social classes. I grew up in mix and a total blend of cultures, people where gay, straight, trans, poor, rich, young or old: acceptance, love and respect were king.

I feel like I want to show these values in my music, but also my work ethics and everything related to what I do.

What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?

Honestly, my main challenge when I started to pursue music in a very serious way was that I wasn’t a good musician, and I was pretty naive creatively. I had ideas, sure, but I just did not have the technical and artistic knowledge to make them interesting or any good. I had to really put in a lot of work to catch up on other people who were so much more advanced than me. I really made myself listen to a lot of music coming from different places and different times.

I also made a point of meeting and learning from other musicians I admired and saw that there were so many different ways of making music: you just had to figure out what worked best for you. It was a hard climb, but it was also a very enjoyable one.

Time is a variable only seldom discussed within the context of contemporary composition. Can you tell me a bit about your perspective on time in relation to a composition and what role it plays in your work?

I think that there are two aspects of time: there is the time you put in your music, and the time needed for your music or career to flourish. The first one depends on you, the other one a bit less. So, I am someone that is impatient with my music, I want to do as much as possible, and I need to spend all the time I possibly can to make music.

But then, I'm patient with what happens afterwards. I believe that having this clear separation in my head makes it less stressful for me and my creative process.

How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?

For me the ‘sound’ aspect of music is much more important than the ‘composition’ aspect. It is what really gives the identity to your track.

I can spend an insane amount of time searching for a particular sound or feeling: I compare it to searching for a planet or a universe that will fit the track. I think I got this obsession for sound from listening to classical music and jazz, where such attention is put on the choice of sound and textures to paint sonically a scene, an element, a landscape or an emotion.

Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives?

It really depends on what my task is. If I'm producing a track and I’m collaborating with a singer, we have to work hand in hand, yet I will have to be the one making the crucial decisions. If I'm doing a film score, I'm only a grain of sand that is part of a big beach, and above from the director, it is the movie as an entity that decides. As an arranger, you work for the track and its composer.

It is all about knowing what purpose you are serving, and how you can best accomplish the task that has been entrusted to you.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?

I wake up pretty late, but not that late. I just for the life of me cannot wake up before 9am, it completely breaks me!

But when I do wake up, I go straight to have a large cup of coffee, then I jump on my motorcycle, stop by a bakery to get a croissant and rush to the studio where I work non-stop from 9:45am till around 5 or 6pm. And I do the same exact thing seven days a week.

My schedule is always the same and I need to have it the same, I'm a total maniac when it comes to routine. I try to really have clear breaks between my music time and my social time, so that it feels like a real off time. I love going out to have drinks with my friends, hanging out with my dog and just chilling at home. That is why having “office hours” is perfect for me because I'm moving at the same pace than other people, and I don’t cut myself to much off from everything else that is happening.

Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?

It is hard to single something out as I feel that everything has been part of the process, and my career is still very young. But if I had to choose, I would have to say the moment when my record got signed to Sony and everything just started moving at a different pace, in a different way. I would’ve never had bet so much on my music. I liked it, but I didn’t think others would like it, so it was an immense surprise to say the least.

As a composer, I had experiences in the past that made me feel like I wasn’t so good at it, that it was just a side thing I did for fun. It made me feel a sense of relief and totally rediscovered an aspect of myself I had almost been hiding for many years. I felt like I had come to meet again with an ex and you realized that the love was still there and strong.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?

I’m someone that gets stressed really quickly by “normal” life. I’m so bad at dealing with everyday tasks, like doing paperwork, remembering to pay bills, going to non-work related appointments etc … Maybe I am so bad with these because I view them as distractions because they are the things that stress me and keep my mind unfocused from creating, but I’m getting better!

I try to keep things pretty regimented so when I’m in the studio, I can only focus on one thing only: music. I call it entering “the zone”, meaning when absolutely nothing else exists apart from you and the music you are making. I won’t answer my phone, my emails, check social media or even take a break. Not because I’m making myself consciously not do it, but because my brain shuts down from it and becomes mono-functional towards music making.

Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?

Music has been very therapeutic for me. When I was in middle and high school I felt so bored with everything. I had many points of interest, but I felt lost in the immensity of it all, and music was a real anchor for me.

When my mom died, music was a real healthy get away for me. I really understood how important it was for me, as it was a constant that would never leave or disappear, I could really always count on it to be there for me.

But music can also hurt, because it is a very hard career to pursue. Apart from the obstacles that have to do with labels and stuff, you are also putting a part of you in your work, and sometimes when things don’t work out it can feel like you are the problem. You just have to learn to distance yourself from certain events and be kind to yourself, and always believe in you no matter what.

I think beyond music, the idea of art and creativity can do wonders as healing tools, and they should be presented as such to as many people as possible.

There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?

For me it all depends on if it comes from a place of honesty or not. Some people appropriate symbols or copy things without having any idea about where it comes from, the community that is attached to it or the history behind it. That is when it becomes cringy for me, when you are just trying to surf on a trend.

For instance, Lady Gaga navigates in the queer world and uses a lot of its imagery, but she is somebody that has always supported the gay community: so that is really great and she has done a lot for the LGBTQ people. Other musicians just to that because it is 'trendy' and it just looks stupid and really fake.

Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?

I am really amazed at the connection between sound and sight. I feel like I 'see' music, meaning that when I listen to a piece I see images, colours, scenes. For me they are completely interlocked.

That is particularly true in the field of film music, it is really interesting to see how a soundtrack can really paint a scene: make a really banal shot seem terrifying or add words that cannot be heard in the dialogue.

Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?

I don't really see myself as a particularly engaged or political person, I just feel like I'm doing my thing and that's it. Yet, I've come to realize that no matter what, given the platform that we have as artists, everything we do carries a message, and we must take that into account. It is an implicit responsibility that we have, because our voice or exposure does give us a certain power of communication.

Given that, I just try my best to live by and show the values that are important for me, ideas that I have grown up with and forged me as a person: tolerance, acceptance, love, understanding and always having the courage to stand up against things that do not seem right.

What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?

This is a tough question. I think music, given its nature of being immaterial, can express a lot of things we feel about subjects that have to do with the unknown, the intangible or untouchable. Such as feelings, questionings about life and its meaning, grief, the idea of living in this world.

It is interesting to see that almost every religion has some kind of musical ritual to accompany the death of a person, maybe because it gives a sense of comfort, or that it help express our feelings towards an event we often do not understand.