Track x Track: LÂLKA - Romance + Rebellion
Meanjin-based multi hyphenate takes us through their genre-bending new mixtape track by track
Image credit: She Is Aphrodite
Crafting sounds that meet at the middle of experimental electronic and boundary-pushing pop is Meanjin/Brisbane based artist LÂLKA who has just released her latest mixtape Romance + Rebellion. With an all too appropriate title, Romance + Rebellion broadly explores these title themes across 13 tracks.
Refusing to stick to conventional genre tags, the music on Romance + Rebellion sees LÂLKA’s expert productions and slick sound design touching on elements from hyperpop, hardcore and a range of Japanese influences, with LÂLKA’s distinctive vocals cutting through the mix.
To celebrate the release of Romance + Rebellion, LÂLKA was kind enough to take us through the release track by track - have a listen and get to know below!
Initiation Part 1
The opening track lays out the premise of the themes explored in this mixtape. After emerging from one of the hardest seasons in my life, I’d found love again but was hyper-aware of the precarious reality that I existed in. I was navigating a new life, the world was still pretty fucked-up, and I’d just been officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia. My new situation was also a form of rebellion against everything I had been taught growing up, in a conservative, Pentecostal Christian AND Asian family. I had to reconstruct my sense of self, and with my health diagnosis, had to figure out new neural pathways on my road to recovery.
Initiation Part 2
This was one of the last tracks written and by now, it was becoming clear that there were two distinct sides of the mixtape: romance, and rebellion. This track clearly belongs to the romance side. The speed ramp signifies a growing optimism that I eventually found in myself.
Those who know my catalogue as an artist would immediately recognise the familiar motif from my 2018 release ‘Go Psycho’. I chose this to follow immediately after Initiation Part 2; I like to switch things up, and it felt good to contrast the rebellion so starkly against the romance.
I wrote this when I had a day free while I was in Naarm/Melbourne - a studio writing session was cancelled at the last minute, so I had hours in the hotel lobby to work on this. It involved splicing up a lot of different samples and I won’t lie, it was tedious work.
This is pronounced “Reese”, as in the type of bass synth being used. Whilst the Reese bass has its origins in House music, I wanted to write a track that had the brutal, stark intensity of a warehouse rave.
I wrote a trance track and to be honest, after I finished it, I decided it was pretty rubbish. So I changed the structure, and messed around with the lead line to create this glitchy, stuttery drop that I found far more interesting than what I had originally started out with. The lyrics and title refer to the way I describe my music - hyperintense. I got no chill.
Like its title suggests, Hedonistic was the vibe I was going for. Music like this is cathartic, perfect to throw your body to in wild abandon. Something I thoroughly enjoy doing myself, and highly recommend doing.
The violin line you hear in the final version originated from a vocal improvised line that I had recorded. I love exotic melodies that don’t fit into the Western major/minor scale. The violin melody is in sharp contrast with the supersaw, Euro-dance melody that comes after it. The word obsidian refers to a volcanic rock formed solidification of lava without crystallisation. It’s hard, glasslike and black - an imagery that I like.
I Need U
The title comes from a vocal sample I had originally put in the track as a placeholder. I was going to change it to “I miss you” - I was missing someone I love deeply but no longer had in my life - but “miss” with its sibilants proved tricky to produce, so I stuck with “I need you”.
Lilith receives a production update in the mixtape - it’s 10bpm faster than the version I put out as a single, and has a dancier vibe. This production change was required to make the mixtape flow.
Levi’s & T-shirts
This was Idea 1. The very first sketch for this project. I was going to scrap the idea because I thought it sounded too cute - too anime, if you will. As a petitely-framed Asian woman, I get called “cute” a lot and whilst I get that it’s often meant as a compliment, it can also sometimes come across as condescending. I went back to it a few months after abandoning it, and added some harder and harsher elements to reflect my taste more.
What If We Kiss To Break The Tension?
In my mind, this track sounds fantastical - strange, unexpected, but also beautiful. There’s a strong thread of escapism in my music (not just this track) and I think it’s because of my vivid imagination and tendency to live in my own head. Some people find it helpful to ground themselves in nature; I’m the polar opposite - I find solace in the digital space, in a world I create. It’s part of the reason why I love being a music producer - I get to craft a world that is separate from reality.
Romance + Rebellion
This is by far the most romantic song I’ve ever written. As I mentioned earlier, love is an act of rebellion. The line “I wanna rave with you” sounds vapid on the surface, but holds a particularly poignant meaning for me. The person that I am currently in love with was the first person I ever felt a connection with at a rave. Dancing, thoroughly enjoying the music in a small club. And 100% sober during the experience.
LÂLKA's new mixtape Romance + Rebellion is out now