Scribe behind the tastemaking blog DiscoWorkout, producer and artist Baron Von Luxxury released his The Last Seduction LP in February. While adjectives are plentiful, essentially it's an album of classic pop, catchy, sometimes dark and both throw away and enduring in equal measures. (Don't take our word for it, listen here or purchase here). BVL's label Manimal Vinyl (Bat for Lashes, Warpaint) has also started releasing videos for many of the album tracks, so we asked him to talk us through some of these.
"Baron von Luxxury is my fake name." - Baron Von Luxxury
1. The Last Seduction
I was really shaken when my friends Theresa and Jeremy committed suicide in the summer of 2007. It took me nearly a year to even approach writing songs again, and when I did this was the first song I wrote. I had the idea for the melody and the bassline one day while I was out and left myself sort of a funny answering machine message where I tried to sing both at the same time. I turned that recording into an Mp3 and loaded it into iTunes and forgot about it til one day it came up on shuffle ("the I Ching of the iPod", as Theresa used to say). I worked up a track for the melody and the song started to come together. I was inspired by the big simple beats and soaring vocal harmonies of ELO as well as Sparks' albums with Giorgio Moroder (e.g. "Number 1 in Heaven") and Empire of the Sun (who, I felt, were channelling similar influences with updated production). Lyrically I was feeling uncomfortable about singing about my friends' deaths, so this song is very indirectly about their situation and my own, shifting perspectives and narrators a little here and there.
The video shoot was one of those things you commit to but don't really think through what its going to be like, until the day of when suddenly it dawns on you that you're about to spend several hours without clothes on in front of a bunch of strangers. Before I knew it I was was drenched and freezing and purple. But it was worth it for the capital A Art that resulted from it.
2 - Rosebud Was The Name of His Sled
This song began as an experiment with dozens of samples which I chopped up into very small units, pitch shifted, stretched, and resampled in some cases. So the basis of the sonic palette was completely based on all these dusty copies of copies, rather than using existing synth patches. I found a really simple but morose chord sequence and when I found the vocal melody at 3am one night I nearly burst into tears because it just felt like I'd encapsulated all the sadness I was feeling about Theresa and Jeremy.
When I sat down to write lyrics they came almost as quickly as the melody, which is rare for me. I sometimes write the basic music for a song in just a few hours, while I often spend months, sometimes even years on lyrics. This song is incredibly personal and probably the one I'm most proud of on the album. I get chills sometimes when I sing it onstage, especially during the sax solo.
3 - Terry Richardson
When I moved to LA with this growing bunch of sad suicide-y sounding songs, I was feeling stuck and frankly a little tired of all the darkness. Plus, making the record by myself, I was losing confidence in what the sound should be and didn't know how to move it ahead. So I got in touch with Ken Rangkuty aka Keenhouse, a German producer who was living in LA and who I'd written about on my blog DiscoWorkout. I had a track in particular that I thought was promising but it was really crazy bold in the chorus, and I wasn't sure how to pull it off as it was a real departure from all the dark, sad songs I'd been making. I brought it to Ken and we worked on a new verse, redid all the synths and beats and added bass and guitar.
Lyrically, because the track was so slick I wanted a cynical, untrustworthy narrator kind of song, like Randy Newman or Steely Dan's "Gaucho" album. At first the song was about the photographer Richard Kern but it gradually morphed into Terry Richardson as the verse lyric developed and his personality seemed to fit better. I'm not going to overexplain the lyrics or tell you where I stand on him as a controversial figure, but he's a fascinating guy.
Funny story: a few weeks after we finished the song, Ken and I were at a cafe in Silver Lake, LA and who should walk in but Mr. Richardson himself! By a further incredible coincidence I happened to have a copy of the song on a CD with me, so I introduced myself and gave the CD to him. Terry was quite nice and said he'd give it a listen but I never heard back from him so I assumed he'd listened and hated it. But then I saw him again just a few months ago and he said "Baron von Luxxury! When is the video for my song coming out?" So clearly he had a sense of humor about it, which is awesome. I hope he likes the video!