Following a 5 star review of their debut album, Dominae, Andrew Darley spoke with Leanne Macomber, one half of the synthpop duo Ejecta.
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Leanne Macomber met her bandmate Joel Ford in 2009 when they were touring with their previous bands (Leanne played in Neon Indian, Ford with Tigercity). After becoming fast friends and sharing music ideas, they realized a creative chemistry had occurred. Since meeting, Leanne worked on four-track bedroom experiment, under the name Fight Bite, whilst Joel found his groove in production, working with Oneohtrix Point Never, Autre Ne Veut and his own split namesake Ford & Lopatin. Once Leanne sent Joel some of her rough-and-ready demos to rework, Ejecta was born. Together, the pair share a big ambition: to make pop music that is timeless and universal. This goal shines through on their debut Dominae which combines sparse and shimmering synthpop productions with lyrics that are strikingly honest and sincere. Leanne spoke to Polari about how Ejecta came to be and how she took on its character in order to sing these songs and address her emotions on record.
You and Joel are established musicians in your own terms for other projects. Did Ejecta in some way feel like you starting over?
‘Ejecta’ actually refers to a kind of geological rebirth. Ejecta is the dust that settles after a volcanic eruption. That’s what this project definitely is for me. A much needed rebirth. I’ve also been sitting on some of these songs for years and have waited to work with Joel for a long time.
What was the creative process involved to make the album?
We met in 2009 and eventually started sending music back and forth. I sent him about a million hastily recorded crude demos and he was excited enough by them to rework one of them called ‘Silver’. He then sent me the music to ‘It’s Only Love’ and I penned lyrics. We’re completely different musicians. I’m quick and visceral while he’s thoughtful and loves to tinker. This really defines our sound in my eyes. Half slick and well put together. Half schizophrenic and immediate.
Were there specific experiences or feelings that you wanted to write about when making the album?
Writing for me is about the initial vomit. For better or worse I just go with whatever flows out. These songs we’re not written as a body of work. The oldest song ‘Mistress’ is 7 years old. The last song ‘Tempest’ was written basically as we were wrapping things up. I didn’t realize they were bookends like that. These songs represent my 20s essentially.
Did you need to establish a strong bond with each other in order to feel comfortable to make the music together and write the lyrics?
We’ve been on tour so Joel has seen me through ups and downs. We connect. Our hearts and brains are in the same place. We can meet on a lot of planes and that’s a real joy and a relief when you’re stuck in a room with someone trying to make art or not art or whatever the hell it is we’re after.
For me, the album feels like it’s about love in all its forms. Was the album inspired by personal relationships? If so, are they about different people?
They are all ripped from my diary and love songs are my absolute favorite. Each one describes a different experience. They’re about death, love, and struggling with adulthood, really.
What drew you to the word ‘Dominae’ as the title for the record? What does it mean for you?
It’s a word that evokes a pleasure pain dichotomy. To my ear it’s very pleasant. Submission and power. It comes from a Latin title that was used in early Europe, I believe, for a female lord (a lady, I suppose, though we don’t have that kinda thing over here). The lady would naturally refer to herself in the third person in an edict like so: Dominae says no more lute playing on Tuesdays before dinner!
I found it interesting that you see Ejecta as a character. Can you tell me more about that idea? Who is she, or even, he?
Ejecta is a mysterious creature. She finds herself on earth after being reborn, or reanimated, or perhaps as a ghost who has just passed over into the next realm. Maybe even an alien. She is always depicted nude to allude to this displacement. Naked, she bears no signs of her culture or class. She is a timeless every woman in this sense.
In all the artwork, you were photographed nude to portray this character. The final results are stunning but were you apprehensive about baring all for the artwork?
I grew up in the dark room around adults who, among other things, gave me the gift of bravery. I feel detached from myself when I’m this character, when I’m on stage. Art is a wonderful escape for the shy and awkward. Art is my armor.
What are your thoughts on people who still say that electronic music is cold and soulless?
I think they’re being a little precious and romantic. Romantics hated the industrial revolution. Modernists managed to elevate the soul-crushing experience of mechanized ordinary living into something human and expressive, something dignified by the meaning we assign it. Joel and I talk about living in a post-human society all the time. We’re both ready to be robots.
I wanted to ask you specifically about certain lyrics. When I first listened to the album, the line in ‘Silver’ “I knew people were awful, but I gave you a try” really struck me for being so simple, yet emotionally loaded. Did the lyrics take a long time to write or were they ideas harbored over time?
They usually come right in tandem with the music. I like to write everything all at once in that moment of inspiration. ‘Silver’ was written for a girl I met while she was train-hopping through my little town in Texas. This song is an invention. I wrote it for her as though she suddenly left me after years of love and happiness. In reality, it was a love that would never be because she was just passing through. She’s heard it and she thinks I’m completely out of my goddamn mind.
Another one of my favourite is ‘Small Town Girl’. The album really takes a turn with it. Would you say the song is your own telling of sweet revenge?
It’s the darkest curse I’ve ever given someone in or out of song. It was the kind of scenario where the only way to get this person out of my mind was to destroy my feelings for them. Naturally, I play the victim who rises above her betrayer. Do not ignore a lover.
Have you learned anything about yourself making this album?
I’ve never heard my voice so clear and upfront. That’s definitely going to expand and inform the way we write.
Do you think there will be another Ejecta album after this one?
We’re already on it.
Would you agree there’s both a strength and vulnerability to Dominae?
As the lyrics are quite intimate, even introverted, are you nervous about people hearing this side of your life?
Anyone who knows me knows I’m horrifically candid. There’s not a number to describe the amount of times I’ve been hushed in my life.
Dominae is out now via Happy Death. For updates on the band, check out Ejecta’s official Facebook page.