Indie-Pop Artist IAN LATE's New Album Is A Vibrant, Poignant Offering
IAN LATE has spent years in the shadows of music, touching down on different parts of the world to busk on the street, perform gigs in big cities, and collect an arsenal of songs from a swath of worldly inspiration. Now, the Berlin-based singer-songwriter is ready to reveal this indie-pop collection.
IAN's debut record, Choices, just dropped a few weeks ago, packed with colorful gems that'll have you singing along.
Choices opens with "All That I Am," the album's first single, a buzzy, emotional track that quickly introduces us to IAN's talent as a vocalist and as an instrumentalist. "Magic" comes next, an addictive rock-tinged track with moments of musical explosion that ring out over IAN's voice (which seems to be directly extracted from Chris Martin's... you'll hear Coldplay influences throughout the whole album, too). "One By One," the second single off the record, is a swirling psych-pop tune with plenty of insistent percussion to keep the beat pulsing, calling to mind Phoenix's electro-pop tendencies.
On "Dream," IAN slows things down as a deep hum opens the track before angry percussion kicks in beneath haunting vocals admitting, "You made me weak / You let me bleed / I fell for you / Oh, I still do." Next is "Cold Heart," a sweetened pop ballad led by steady rhythms, wails of resounding guitars, and some of the best vocal tones on the whole album. "All Things Must End" once again takes a softer turn, IAN offering a Jack Johnson style (you know what we mean: contemplative and calming) song that bursts into multi-instrumental heaven towards the end.
"Grow" is a standout track on Choices. The warbling, emotive guitar rhythm that opens the piece only grows stronger and more expressive throughout, while IAN's voice carries among the desperate arrangement. On "Work It Out," melodic rock is the focus, but emotion is the core in lines like "Someday you might be ready to come home but then I will have to let you go." Choices ends with "Creatures," a dark-pop track featuring distant bubbles of clanking rhythm and intense narrative detailing societal letdowns.
Choices moves from indie-pop anthems to reflective ballads seamlessly, merging both styles with IAN's impressive vocals and passion for his music as the connective tissue between them. The record is a powerful collection of singalongs and thinkers: each piece full of the very best sonic arrangements, but with new insights in each. Because of this, IAN LATE is a stirring talent who deserves radio play and poster-on-the-bedroom-wall status ASAP.
The Music Mermaid: Can you tell The Music Mermaid a little about yourself and your music
Ian Late: Hey, I'm Ian Late, a singer-songwriter from Berlin. For the last [few] years I have been writing, producing, and performing indie-pop songs with my band and traveling many countries, playing shows in Shanghai and NYC and busking in Europe and Australia. My tracks [range] from dreamy and spherical ballads to danceable pop and indie-rock songs. The lyrics are kind of socio-critical but also tell about biographic episodes.
TMM: What is the music scene like in Berlin and how has it influenced your work at all?
IL: The scene is very versatile but mostly about electronic music. Since I've been living in Berlin for a long time, it's influenced my work as well. I started with more folk-y, singer-songwriter songs but developed a bigger band sound and added some electronic synth and keys elements.
TMM: You've just released your debut album, Choices. Congrats! What was the production process like for the record?
IL: Thank you. It took a while -laughs-. We had been writing mostly in a barn off the city and sometimes on tour during a day off. We recorded the essential instruments of the new album such as drums, bass guitar, and main electric and acoustic guitars in a forester's house in the countryside within two weeks. After that, we had many smaller recording sessions in Berlin to add backing vocals, synths, keys, piano, cello, and percussion. We produced, mixed, and mastered the album on our own so we kept the creative process in our hand until it was finished. All in all it took two years to write and record the album.
TMM: Can you talk a little about your songwriting process? Any structures you tend to use? Subjects you write about?
IL: I mostly start off with some chords or a riff on guitar which inspires me to sing along. For the new album, my band was involved in the process as well. My vocal melodies and lyrics mostly follow the musical arrangement, and I write about the society's development and phenomenas as well as biographic episodes such as the challenges in a big city's daily life and about finding a balance with yourself and others.
TMM: What was the reasoning behind releasing "All That I Am" and "One By One" as the record's singles?
IL: We chose "All That I Am" as the first single because it's an elegant transition from the latest EP and the new album. As a spheric ballad, it was perfect for a month like February. "One By One" is our spring tune and shows the variety of the album tracks due to its danceable beat and funky guitars.
TMM: What do you like about performing and recording with a backing band as opposed to doing it solo?
IL: I like the interaction between the musicians on stage. As a solo artist, sometimes it can be quite tough to carry the whole show on your own, but it depends on the circumstances and the audience. If you have a quite intimate concert and attentive listeners it can be a beautiful feeling to play solo. For recording, I appreciate my band a lot because they are also producing and mixing our records!
TMM: Walk us through a day in your life.
IL: At the moment it's not that adventurous -laughs-. I had to work a lot for the release of my new album, so it is a lot about writing emails, being on the phone, and doing social media. But usually a day in my life is more relaxed and I have some time left for making music and having a coffee with friends or dinner and a drink in the evening.
TMM: Who are three musicians you think the world needs to hear ASAP?
IL: I'm sure there are more than three musicians the world needs to hear. I would be happy about less conservative and less mainstream music on German radio stations -- many songs sound like another and the lyrics are so predictable; kind of boring. In Berlin, for example, you can discover a lot great music and talented artists at concerts and at smaller shows.
TMM: What has been your most memorable music moment so far?
IL: I guess it was when my sister brought a guitar from a holiday in Spain and I took it in my hands and couldn't stop playing.
The Music Mermaid: Finally, what's next for Ian Late?
Ian Late: At the moment it is all about pushing my new album Choices and its latest single "One By One". But this summer I would love to start writing new music and travel a bit. We'll also shoot another music video for a third single which will be released in September probably. After that I'll be on tour with my band!
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Featured photo by Patricia Haas