Written by Killian O’Neil
Anyone who knows the jam band scene knows who Lotus is, especially if you’re from Philadelphia. Lotus isn’t exactly a band that you can describe very easily. They have a sound and energy that is so unexplainable which you can only describe as Lotus. I had the opportunity and pleasure to interview Luke Miller who is one of the masterminds behind their new album, Free Swim, and asked a few questions about their new album.
Miller and his brother Jesse co-wrote and produced this magical mixture that is chopped full of a fresh dose of dirty disco, funk, and smooth jazz. Due to the climate of the world, I was unable to sit down with Miller one on one so instead, we let technology do its thing via email.
I was curious as to how this album came about and what were some of the draws on their sound this time around? “This album,” Miller begins. “came from a year and a half of Jesse and myself (Luke) writing demos. We were drawing on a ton of different things – disco, funk, electronic music, rock, afrobeat. We tried not to limit ourselves and just let intuition guide the way.”
After dissecting and listening to it, there really were not many more questions to follow because the music speaks for itself. Free Swim is an album that teleports you back to the old days of Lotus that everybody has secretly been craving. This album has the feel of one of their previous albums, Nomad, with some fresh new soulful synths and cosmic sounds.
The two songs that stuck out to me from Free Swim were “Catacombs” and “Turtlehead” the contrast is incomparable. The first time I heard catacombs I was sitting in a car and I didn’t even notice that it was Lotus’s new single and instantly I started dancing. The high frequency of this song courses through your body and instantly changes the mood in any room, an absolute feel-good song that engulfs you.
While I was listening to this melting pot of wizardry, “Turtlehead,” stood out to me big time as well. There is a sense of tranquility within the song itself with a huge electronica sound and soothing classical melodies. I also cannot forget “One-Eyed Jones” with the heavy dirty bass and sexy saxophone not to mention the melodic undertones that keep you wanting more.
Another thing I asked Luke was what his favorite song overall was with all of their albums and off of Free Swim, what’s your favorite song and why?
“It’s hard to pick a favorite song since I work hard creating all of them,” He admitted. “One of my favorites on this new album is ‘Earl of Grey’ just because it has a chill vibe with a timeless-type sound.”
With the release of Free Swim and everything that has been going on globally, I had to ask amidst the state of the world and the climate of our country, does anything or any specific song directly reflect on what is going on?
“Being an instrumental album there aren’t true specifics, but I’d say ‘Land of the Lush’ has a hopeful tone that I think can be a salve on some of these dark days,” Miller stated.
One thing that I was extremely interested in was how COVID-19 has affected Lotus and their artistic process. When I asked him how COVID-19 has affected him and the band he explained to me how they have all been dealing. “We make our living from playing live shows, so that was taken away. We did take advantage of the time stuck at home to work on new music. We finished mixing Free Swim, I did a bunch of work on a solo project, and we started demos for our next album. The drive-in show on September 4th is going to be our only opportunity to do a live performance in connection to releasing the new album, so we wanted to take advantage of that.”
Lotus transcends all expectations of music as they create their own sound every single damn time. Miller hit the nail on the head when he mentioned that “Earl of Grey” is a timeless-type sound. What he missed when saying that, was not only is that song has a timeless-type sound, but Lotus is a timeless-type of a band that continues to rebirth each and every single time they put out something new or gather on a stage together. Lotus is a band that can touch the depths of your soul and instantly calms you just by listening to sixty seconds of any one of their songs. Free Swim is an album that is an instrumental treasure for the music world.
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