By Nikki M. Mascali
When one door closes, another opens, the old saying goes, and when one band calls it quits, more often than not, another emerges.
Such was the case when the U.K.-based indie rock bank Viva Brother disbanded last year, and singer Lee Newell completely switched gears and created synth-pop outfit Lovelife with Ally Young, a former member of electro-pop group Mirrors.
“Lee and I were both dealing with relationships ending, and so naturally that’s what our songs were becoming about,” Young told Highway 81 Revisited last week. “Lovelife seemed perfect (as a name), as all of our songs are basically about love, life or the lack of a love life.”
Despite what could be a lonely and melancholic muse, Lovelife’s music is upbeat, airy and danceable. The group is playing a string of shows in New York this week, both as part of its second outing at CMJ and its current tour with The Neighbourhood. The tour stops at New York’s Terminal 5 Thursday and Union Transfer in Philadelphia Friday.
“We’ll be playing more songs this time around, and we always try to improve what we did last time in terms of production,” Young said when asked what will be different from last year’s CMJ performances. “We’ve all bought a few new musical toys since our last tour, which we’ve had fun playing with.”
After spending a large chunk of 2012 writing in its adopted hometown of Brooklyn, Lovelife released its third EP, “Stateless,” earlier this month. The duo self-produced and released two previous recordings, “El Regreso” and “The Fourth Floor,” last year. Those EPs garnered more than 350,000 plays on Soundcloud and more than 40,000 downloads, but the only pressure to keep up the momentum came internally.
“We put so much pressure on ourselves that we don’t feel any pressure from elsewhere,” Young shared. “We’re perfectionists, and we’re always trying to out-do ourselves and improve on what we’ve already done.”
Lovelife’s writing process differs from song to song, and there’s no set template. “Sometimes we’ll start with a beat and a piano, other times we might start by chopping up a sound or sampling something,” he said. “Inspiration for songs can come from anywhere, but it’s a collaborative process.”
Lovelife has since transplanted to Los Angeles, but Young will always have a connection to his former home base.
“New York has a special place in my heart – I absolutely loved living in Brooklyn,” he began. “I think it’s impossible for your surroundings to not influence your sound, and living in New York is like living in a film set 24/7. It’s magic; I never got used to that feeling.”