Globelamp returns with a new LP, Romantic Cancer, on October 12 via Nefarious Industries. The musical outlet of singer-songwriter Elizabeth Le Fey, the LP is her most stripped-down to this point. Retreating from her home base of Los Angeles to Bohemesphere Studios not far from Woodstock, New York, Le Fey partnered with engineer Jay Andersen on a collection of songs that speak to how we pull ourselves back together after we’ve been pulled apart.
Drawing up a wide range of influences, Globelamp appeals to fans of “lost” ’60s and ’70s folksingers such as Vashti Bunyan or Judee Sill as well as contemporary artists such as Myrkur and Waxahachie. With added flashes of emo and lo-fi music, the appeal broadens, and one is left with an album and an artist that will leave you reeling.
Featuring guest appearances James Felice (The Felice Brothers, Conor Oberst) and singer/writer Morgan Ywain Evans (Walking Bombs, Metalriot.com), the Romantic Cancer on CD, digital download and streaming services as of October 12 and may be pre-ordered here.
Le Fey recently took time to talk with PopMatters about the writing and recording of Romantic Cancer.
When did the material for Romantic Cancer first begin revealing itself?
I guess during the album release of The Orange Glow I had been working on some of the songs. At the same time, there are songs on the album such as “St. Cecilia” and “Everything’s a Spiral” that were among the first songs I ever wrote.
There’s a lot of space in the music itself in a way that goes beyond the typical idea of “stripped down”.
I wanted something that sounded similar to how I sound live. After recording two albums full of overdubs on every song, I wanted an album in my discography that was different. I don’t know if the sound on Romantic Cancer is what you will necessarily always get from Globelamp in the future. I also like the idea of minimalism in music because so much music is overproduced. Is every overdub truly necessary? Maybe, I don’t know.
In a loud sonic world, it’s calming for me to create a space where vulnerable feelings are free to express themselves. I liked the idea of pushing how far minimalism could go. People always have this urge to add more overdubs and turn up their amps louder live. For me, some of the songs are about the emotional vulnerability of the lyrics and having a space to sing them.
You also decided to leave Los Angeles to make the album and record in New York state in wintertime, a world away from where you started. Do you feel like that getting away informed the performances at all?
I had a lot of these songs completely memorized and thought out about before coming to upstate New York. Getting to record in Jay Andersen’s studio out in the snowy woods added an extra level of dark moodiness. “Unnatural Speeds” was a song I finished while being there. And maybe it wouldn’t have been finished if I didn’t go out East.
The song “No Hesitation” almost sounds like it could have come from a British folk album released in the late 1960s. It had quite an impact on me from the first listen.
It seems to be a fan favorite. I say this because the album isn’t even out but the people who have seen me live love that song. I have had people ask me after a set if it was on an album they can buy. It was like, “Whoa, people are responding to this song”…. maybe it’s because it is relatable.
As for the origins of the song, I had a brief relationship with the singer of Against Me! who wrote me a song and wanted me to write her one back. It took quite a while for me to finish the song and by the time I did, she was far gone. I make some references to that artist with mentioning one of Against Me!’s album names in the first lines of the song: “On the brink of a new wave.”
It is no secret that I am a fan of British folk music from the ’60s but with that said I am never trying to sound like anything other than myself when I make a song. Sometimes different influences present themselves subconsciously and it always makes me happy when something I make reminds someone of something that I love.
There are a few pieces, such as “Lowest Low” and “Blinded”, where it seems like you’re reliving some sort of difficult moment right in the performance.
A few of the songs were recorded in one take, and that might be why they have the feeling of reliving the sort of difficult moments. To me performing is about channeling a force bigger than you. I was really happy that I did what I needed to do in one take because it captured raw feelings. Unlike past recording sessions, I didn’t obsess over every vocal take but instead worked with what felt right.
“Blinded”, in my mind, is more of a weird pop song on this album. I wrote it on the keyboard and kept imagining it having a synthpop sound. I don’t even know how it turned out the way it did, but it is better than I could have imagined. James added so much with the accordion. As for playing it live, it has this pop formula, and I love singing the word “candle” so it is kinda fun. The only pop influence thing I kept in this song is the bridge: “You and me you and me never be never be.”
Did you know all along that the album would be titled Romantic Cancer or was that something that came toward the end?
It was something I decided to do at the end. I had played with the idea of that being the title a few times but wasn’t sure. I like to have a theme, and after hearing all of the songs in completion, it felt like the title Romantic Cancer was staring me in the face saying, “How long are you going to avoid using me as the title?” I was listening to a lot of Taylor Swift and like how she is open about her love life and relationships. There is so much sexism projected at her. She isn’t the first artist to write about her love life. If you look at rock history, that’s what most men sang about.
James Felice and Morgan Ywain Evans also turned up to help. Did you know them before the sessions and what did they contribute?
I had talked to Morgan Evans online for a few years before meeting him. I had collaborated with him on one of his songs, “Even When It Hurts”, for his musical project, Walking Bombs. James Felice was actually on that track too (playing accordion)! I hadn’t met either of them at that point. James played accordion on various tracks on my album, and Morgan sang back up on “Sha La Love” and played trombone on “Look Out Mountain”. I am a Felice Brothers fan, so it was really cool to have James play on my album. Really surreal!