Loomer: Noise Pop Bliss from Brazil
Loomer, from Brazil, are another great Shoegaze band (or Nu-gaze band if you are timely conscious) that have emerged on the worldwide scene in the last decade.
The band is currently composed of 4 members:
Stefano (Male vocals/guitar),
Michelle (Female vocals/bass),
They are currently on the Midsummer Madness label. Loomer have released two EP’s and two albums as of the time of writing this, May 2019.
Loomer certainly wear their influences on their shoes (See what I did there!) but Stefano (Lead male vocals/guitarist) insist that they do not force the music that they make and that they are different people and each member brings their own influences and ideas to the studio.
They really live up to the title of indie as they are independent in their creating and recording of their own songs. Since their 2nd EP ‘Coward Soul’ the band have mixed all of their work and mastered all of it, bar the debut album ‘You Would Not Anyway’ which was also recorded in various places ranging from the comfort of home to an unorthodox location such as a beach!
Loomer prefer to start playing tinny, trebly sounding arpeggios that are more concentrated on authentic guitar tone blended with a bit of bliss that is reminiscent of Swervedriver, in particularly, the outro of their 1993 hit from Sophomore album Mezcal Head; Duel. In fact, their inclination of rock style lead guitar playing and the tone that they select would fit well into any Swervedriver song. However, Loomer are far from being a rip off band. Their ability to stay clear from obvious guitar effects like Reverse Reverb (which has been subject to over kill in the Shoegaze genre for the last 30 years) and floaty guitar tone sucking ambience is refreshing.
Their first EP’s were ‘Mind Drops’ (2009), followed by ‘Coward Soul’ (2010) and the two albums are ‘You Would Not Anyway’ (2013) and ‘Deserter’ (2017). The first EP’s are both raw in sound quality, like they were made in 1988 and immediately, I can hear comparisons to The Jesus and Mary Chain (Check out the tracks ‘Search On Your Own’ and ‘Damned’ with Jim Reid style deep vocals and more ear-piercing feedback than your English teacher gave you at school), damn, these guys are loud!
The other EP ‘Coward Soul’ (2010) reminds me initially of Sonic Youth because of the raw octave, harmonic, rapidly strummed spring reverbed guitar playing, and the sudden outbursts of punky shouting during the refrains. This is also the first EP that features female vocals blended with Stefano’s vocals in the form of Michelle, like Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. The debut album ‘You Wouldn’t Anyway’ aesthetically catches my eye with very 60’s psychedelic cover art that is lit up in a striking purple colour and the music is better produced than their EP’s.
The track ‘Enough (From the debut Mind Drops EP) starts with an interesting tinny slightly delayed single note riff before launching into a raucous, unstoppable and solid wall of sound that features a joyous, bouncy vocal melody encapsulated. Ethereal, fragile but endearing female vocals enter the fray in the first refrain section gliding along with the deeper, reassuring male vocal creating a balance or maybe an imbalance to the music that the band themselves admit to liking the sense of mystery in their songwriting and sound. Classic My Bloody Valentine right there, hence the name of this band. The ending mellows out but instead of the abrasive guitars transforming into ethereal, angelically ambient tools of sorcery,
On their Album ‘Deserter’, a track that grabbed me is the penultimate song, ‘Another Round’ which begins with one very fuzzed up guitar and a few abrupt un-musical jack input noises to create suspense. The guitar tones on this track are pure gorgeous and they also vary. Each section of this song has something different going on with the guitars, whether in terms of tone or chord changes or playing technicalities, it’s all evolving all of the time, sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant. The fuzz that growls and a purrs like a V8 engine in an American muscle or British lightweight sports car appears in the pre-chorus section acting as a soothing haze coinciding with the floaty vocal lines. This track is by far one of the catchiest and interesting tunes from the album without being too simple or boring.
The album finale, appropriately named ‘Opinions’ features a mind bending dentist drill guitar effect that emerges at the Thirty One, Fifty mark of the album and emerges again near the end ad sees out the remainder of the song. Again, this is a track full of surprises that gives the listener one final treat before the album ends and all of a sudden, the world seems like such a quiet and dull place.
Therefore, this album, this artist do their job as a huge aspect of the essence of Shoegaze music is to transport the listener and when the music stops, the holy experience is over and the world is bland again, and that’s when you really appreciate the benefit of this incredible genre that we call Shoegaze. Loomer certainly capture this essence.
Link to ‘Enough’ from debut EP, Mind Drops (2009) below:
Stunning track from debut EP, Mind Drops (2009)
Where are you from in the Brazil? Where are you living now?
Guilherme and I were born in Rio Grande Do Sul, south of Brazil. Fernanda was born in Santa Catarina, also in southern Brazil. Richard was born in Germany. And Michelle was born in the United States. At the moment, Fernanda who played bass with us is living in Florida United States, and Michelle is living in Porto Alegre, she is our current bass player.
What did you study?
I studied Electronic Engineering. Richard and Guilherme studied design. Fernanda studied psychology. Jaquelina is a self-taught artist. Michelle is studying civil engineering.
What is your day job at present if any?
I like my job, but I dont really want to talk about it. Sorry...
Do you dream to live from your music or is it a passion you do not want to spend your full time on?
I don’t really know. I’m following what life offers me. I really love music and cannot stop doing that.
Do you have families?
I live with my wife Jaquelina. We don’t have any children yet. Michelle lives with Andressa, her girlfriend. Fernanda lives with Kim, her wife. Richard lives with Maria, his wife. Guilherme is divorced and is the only one of us who has a son, Gabriel.
Could you tell me how the band meet and decided to do music together?
I was playing another band called Transmission. In the year 2005 Richard came to live in Porto Alegre, and formed another band called Lautmusik, as he liked my band we decided to do a tour together in 2007. But things ended up not working, Transmission stopped playing in 2007 because the singer has moved to another country. Because of that, we probably ended up making a band.
Guilherme, was already my acquaintance, we played in another band called Materia Plastica, and he came to join us as our drummer. Liege was the last one to join the band, but that gave the finishing touch in the formation, took the bass and made the backing vocals in some songs and sang others. Later in 2013 the Liege left and entered the Fernanda that already played with me in the band Parkplatz. Michelle, who plays the bass guitar, joined in 2018 and remains to this day..
Can you tell me the inspiration behind your band? You can detect the influences of shoegaze and indie rock. There is also a very interesting duality with some violence in the music that is always balanced by some tranquility with the feminine voice or other means. It is a great example of ying and yang or masculine / feminine influences. Is it on purpose?
We did not try to force the music we made. I mean, at least we think so. We are different people, and each one brings their influences to the music. Sometimes the core of the song is composed at home grossly and finalized in the studio over many essays, other times it is completely developed in the studio. We like male / female duality, we think it brings a balance, or maybe an imbalance. I'm not sure, I just know we like it that way.
Was there a vision of sorts or did you know what you wanted to do when you started up? I.e. when you started the band was it always a project to create a shoegaze band? Or was it different from now?
At first, Richard, our guitarist, had the idea of making a band in the style of My Bloody Valentine. We watched TV shows, we listened to music, watched horror movies. So he had this preconception. But when we got people together and started playing, we had more influences than just MBV, and we wanted to use all of them. It was a lot more fun, and we kept it that way. After all, we do not like to sound too alike to anyone, we prefer to sound like ourselves.
Do you have any other musical side projects apart from this band?
Actually, at the moment we are not playing in any side project, but we already had many.
Could you tell me more on the band composition? Do you have plans to add new members, or is there possible departure scheduled from existing band members?
The band is me (Stefano) on male voice and guitar, Michelle on female voice and bass, Richard guitar and Guilherme drums. Fernanda moved to USA in 2015/2016. Jaquelina played with us from 2016 to 2017.
We've already had 4 bass players playing with us since initial training. Liege in 2008, Fernanda in 2013, Jackelina in 2017 and Michelle in 2018. We have no plans to add or remove band members. We are just doing music and shows, things that we love, but sometimes the circumstances of life change people's destiny.
Can you tell us more how you came to have the band’s name?
Well, in the beginning we were playing for 6 months and have a scheduled show, but we hadn`t a name yet. So we made a list of 50 names to choose one. Loomer was a suggestion made by Richard, and it was the winner. Of course Loomer is because of MBV song, but what we use to say is that we wasn't looking for anything related to MBV on purpose, it was just a coincidence that this was the best name to think of when we had to choose one.
The Creative process
Who writes the song and the music and how do you get to the final song? Is it a community process, do you have leaders in composing or arranging music?
We have a lot of ways to compose songs. Some of the songs I write at home and bring to the band. Some songs are born entirely in the studio. Some songs starts with a guitar riff, some with the drums or bass giving the idea to the band to complete the rest.
Do you listen to the advice of your band mates? What would you do if they said a song was shit but you liked it?
Well, this has not happened yet. But what usually happens is that sometimes the members do not have ideas to play certain music, and it is put on the shelf to be finished later. Sometimes when a song takes too long to complete, it may happen that we lose the spirit it initially had.
There’s a degree of unconventional songwriting with you guys. Was it kind of intimidating going to record knowing people might not be engaging with the songs in terms of hooks and such and trying to deliver an engaging sound on record?
We just try to make songs that we think are good. We do not know how many people will like it but if we like it it was already worth the effort. Everyone in the band is free to contribute to the composition, and this already provides a greater degree of creativity.
Personally I like songs that confuse the head but that are simple after you understand it. But I will not impose anything if it is not working. I can not say for sure. I think what we do has to be worth it to us, somehow.
You have a great way about your guitars, with tones and melodies answering each other, almost like discussing. Could you tell us more on how you work together on this?
Well, we've played so loud that many times we can not hear what others are doing. It is often a pleasant surprise when we will listen to the recording. Maybe our guitar dialogue is just two guitars talking to the walls. Another important detail is that we try not to interfere with what each one creates. Anyway we think it works.
Talking about the lyrics: who write them? Is there a common thread in them, a theme?
Usually I write the lyrics. But usually I write only what I sing, and when Liege sang, she wrote the part of it. Fernanda has not yet felt comfortable writing her songs, although we encourage her to do so. But she helped me in the lyrics on the last album. I do not think of a main theme when I write, at least on purpose. I think this ends up appearing naturally according to what I am experiencing at the moment.
Do you labor over your lyrics? Is that something that comes easy?
I do not consider myself good at writing. I think I'm better maybe in the melodies. I admit that several songs I leave to decide on the lyrics only during the recording, although I already have an idea of what I would like to talk about. Anyway we like the voice as being just another instrument of music, not being something in the foreground.
Do you have a message that you want to get across in your music? If so, what are some of the messages you want to spread?
I do not have a message. When I start to write I do not know what I'm talking about. And if I have enough time to this initial process the whole letter appears and I am quite happy with the result. But if by chance I leave the lyrics to finish later, then I will need to understand the subject to be able to conclude. These are the hardest to finish.
Did your listening habits changed over the years and does it affect what you write?
Yes, my habits change a little over time. And I think it's natural that what I write also changes. But I do not try to do anything on purpose. What I want to say is that I do not try to listen to something new in order to incorporate this into my music because it's a new trend. What I do is dig old and new bands for something I really enjoy. And when I write, it's always the old thing I've always done.
How is your recognition going in Indonesia and Abroad? Is it growing? Are you happy with it?
Did you mean in Brazil? Yes, in Brazil we have some recognition that has been growing slowly. We are happy with this, because it is a musical style that has no space in the mainstream media. Time helps reward that.
The path to music
Is it easy to find producers and studios in Brazil for indie-rock?
It is not very easy to find, so we produce ourselves. We like to do this because we can keep the result close to what we would like it to be. But we lost in the aspect of an external opinion that could enrich the music.
Your recorded sound is very good, which is not easy. Did you engineer the sound yourself, or did you have a sound engineer with you? If yes could you tell us more about him/her?
The first EP "Mind Drops" was recorded by Lucas Pocamacha, guitarist of Superguidis, a very cool indie-rock band here in Brazil that is not playing anymore. He did this in exchange for a sound card we bought for him. The second EP "Coward Soul" was recorded in the DUB studio that we usually do our rehearsals and we did the mixing and the mastering.
The first LP "You Would not Anyway" we recorded ourselves at home, on the beach, in the studio, in different places. We mixed and the mastering was done by Paulo Casaes (Fujimo).
The last album "Deserter" we recorded in the studio Dissenso and in the studio DUB. I mixed it myself and mastered it. We've been looking for a sound engineer but we still can not find it. We thought it would be very good for us. In the meantime, we're doing things ourselves.
Was it a community work to try to have the best sounding music possible or mainly driven by the sound engineer or by the band?
It is a work mainly directed by the band. We spent a lot of time mixing the result. Recording usually does not take long. But it is not so because we want it this way. It's because the recording (mainly the drums) is usually in the studio and paid per hour. I still believe it's best to spend more time recording and less time mixing. The result would be even better.
Can you tell us how the recording process was?
We are still learning. But what we usually do is record the drums first. Our drummer likes to record with us playing together, without a metronome or guide track. In this sense I think it can be said that each band has an ideal way to do the recording.
Anyway the drums is the one that takes more time to be recorded in our case. And it's worth it because if it gets well done it makes it easier for the rest of the process. It needs to do in the studio. After that we recorded the bass, and it can be recorded at home if we want to save money. It's something quick to record, so it would also be okay to record in the studio.
After the bass comes the guitars. What takes in the recording of the guitars is not so much the execution, but the choice of the tones, the pedals, the regulation of the effects. Many hours of tuning and testing for 4 minutes of noise. But it's worth.
Since it takes a lot of time to adjust the tone of the guitar, it is best to record several songs at a time when you find the right tone. It is possible to record the guitar at home, but it gets better in the studio since we play loud. At last we record the voices, and these we can do at home as well. It's good to have a condenser microphone for this.
The rest we solve in the mix, where we do all the magic. But that is not a rule. We like badly recorded things too. Whistles, voices and guitars out of tune. What does not work can fit in very well. You need to hear what's coming out. I think it's the ear that's in charge after all
How did the recording work differ over time?
We recorded all of our albums. With this we learn over time new things, new tricks. I think you should not give too much importance to mistakes, or avoid doing something because you do not know enough.
More important than that is to let work flow, to enjoy the flow of inspiration because it matters more than the quality of work. But the recording is also part of the work, the two things complete themselves, the recording and the composition.
Is the recording material yours when you are out of a studio or do you borrow/rent it?
We have our own recording material. That is to say, we acquire over time equipment that we understand that would add to the sound of the band. But we also try to stay free to enjoy what we find at the recording location. It may be the noise of the wind, the trees, the water, in a studio we take advantage of some old equipment, a tape recorder, a tube or tape microphone, things that may sound a bit strange, or that inspire us.
Any interesting anecdotes on some recording session you would like to share?
I'm not very good at trying to be funny. But in our first EP Mind Drops we did the recording on a farm improvised. We took the sound table, the microphones, the amplifiers, the drums and everything else. We made the loudest noise, played really loudly and recorded separately, on separate tracks. Could not understand the result at the time.
Back in town, when we went to mix the result, we could hear horse whinnies, the noise of chickens and other strange things on certain channels. When I put everything together I could not see it. It was like this. I think this is funny in a way...
Did getting the live experience across on record create any pressure for yourselves in the recording process?
I think it creates a pressure yes. But we are not very organized to create the songs, or sometimes we take a lot of time to finish them. So some pressure helps us. They push us forward.
Instruments: you seem to be mainly a Fender band. Could you tell me what inspire you to use fenders rather than other brands?
We really like the Fender sound. I think what motivated us to use so many Fender outfits are our influences like Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, My Bloody Valentine among others. We thank them, because we like the result.
A question for a future paper I have in mind: if you use often a Fender Jaguar, could you tell me more about what makes it good to play (sound, neck, …). I find there are lot of noise artists that are using this guitar and I am interested to know why.
In my case, what I like most about this guitar is the sound of it. I think the combination of her sound with distortion and fuzz pedals gives a very engaging effect. Besides I consider a very beautiful guitar. I personally like old, vintage things, working fine.
Do you have one favorite instrument or do you change often?
We do not usually switch instruments. We have a fixed formation, with bass, two guitars and drums. In the recording sometimes we risk playing other things, like acoustic guitar, synthesizer, tambourine. But anyone can say or suggest ideas.
The funny thing to note is that we are a band in which we are all guitar players. Guilherme our drummer is actually a guitarist, and our bass player Fernanda is also a guitarist. I always use the same guitar, the Fender Jaguar. Although you have already modified some things in it like the keys, the pickups and the bridge, it's always the same.
But what I change with some frequency are the pedals. As I have more pedals than fit on the pedalboard, I do some kind of rotation to test everyone. In the end of course there are some favorite pedals.
Tell us what you are looking when trying to achieve your sounds? Do you experiment a lot or have a clear idea of what you want?
We experiment a lot, and we've tried to take advantage of everyone's idea. Maybe this will end up making the song a bit unconventional. But I like strange and uncomfortable songs. I can not say what we are looking for, because each one actually puts it in its own way. We eventually discovered what we ended up creating. I do not know if it's the best way to compose, probably not, but that's how we do it.
Who is the more knowledgeable with pedals? You use them a lot, to great effect.
Thank you. We ended up getting a lot of pedals. We do some research and we end up getting some. In the end we want to use everyone, which is not possible of course. But I think they help increase the possibilities of the songs. Me and Richard are the most interested in pedals, we've been researching what some bands we like have used on albums we like and we're going after them. It's a form of judgment because there is a very wide variety of pedals.
How many concert a year would you do on average and what would be the size of the venue?
We do not do many shows. We do 5 to 10 shows per year. But that depends a little on the season, since we've been focused on finishing the album in recent times. The size of the venues depends a bit on the event, we have already played in venues for 10,000 people, and we have already played in venues for 50 people. The smaller ones are more suitable for us, because our public is not so big, besides, small places are cooler.
Would you mind sharing some good anecdotes from your concerts/touring?
In respect to the reader, it may not be a good idea. =)
What are some places around the world that you hope to take your band? Do you have any plans at present to tour in other countries than the Brazil.
We think of going to countries here near Brazil, like Uruguay and Argentina. We also have plans to go to the United States, after all our bass player Fernanda lives there. We also thought about going to the UK, we even staged a show last year but we couldn’t go. Japan too. It's good to have plans, don’t you think?
Is there any reason in particular that you want to go to these places? Is there something about dream pop/shoegaze in those places that makes you want to go there?
We really like to write songs. Besides composing, recording them, it's very cool. In addition to recording, being able to play them around, and checking people's connection to our songs, this is very motivating. Sometimes we go places far away from where we came here in our huge country and have some people who know our names, follow our trajectory.
They thank us for doing that. I think there is a natural process of an artist wanting to expose their creation. These countries we mentioned before, we are very curious. We have a strong connection with them as well, as these are places that really enjoy shoegaze music, or that have created the style. You know, we're just living.
Brazil have a thriving indie scene that is not very well known internationally. Could you tell us more about it?
Brazil is a huge and beautiful country. It's hard to know everything. There are many bands that come and go, and some are really good, but that for some reason are not very well known. In fact the indie scene is something that is self help based on the friendship, and in the musical taste of course, since there is no support of the larger media. We have some blogs and independent radio programs on the internet that have helped. It's really a fun aside.
Is it easy for a Brazilian indie bands to be known internationally? Do you have any example?
I think it's not easy, not because the bands do not deserve it, but because the outside public would probably think 'look, a Brazilian band singing indie rock. it must be bad.'. I do not know. Maybe not. It's all a matter of taste. I do not think much about being known or succeeding outside (or inside) Brazil. I think only of making songs that I consider important, maybe cool, or worthwhile for us to record or play at shows.
With respect to bands, there was an indie band that was relatively well known abroad 'Cansei de Ser Sexy'. With respect to Brazilian shoegaze, I know of two bands that lived in London for a while, Wry that is in Brazil now again, and The Tambourines who still lives there. Our seal, the Midsummer Madness, is now in London as well.
Has the scene changed since you began, and if so how?
The scene changed a lot, many times. In the 80's and 90's, many people went to the shows without even knowing who was playing, local bands had space on some local radios, record companies invested in new bands. In the 2000s there was a lot of variation, difficulty in publicizing the concerts, closing bars and independent rock show venues.
But you can go play in other cities, or on the other side of this immense country. With the internet and social networks, you can promote the shows in distant places. Even though there are few, there are always one or two pubs to play.
Nowadays still appear spaces for bands, because the bands help themselves based on the friendship. It's a way of life.
Is there any Brazilian band(s) you want to recommend in the indie/shoegaze/post-rock genres?
There's a lot of cool bands here. I can cite a few such as Herod, Twinpine (s), Wry, Labyrinth, Sileste, Justine Never Knew The Rules, Firefriend, Lava Divers, Juna, Carne de Monstro, Churrus, Space Rave, The Sorry Shop, Lupe Lupe, Low Dream, Fellini, Second Come, Pin Ups, Patife Band, This Lonely Crowd, Bruxas, Duelectrum, The Soundscapes, Blear, The Cigarettes, ruido\ mm, Proud Beggars, Walverdes
Do you have a label? Could you tell us a bit more if so.
We have two labels currently, Midsummer Madness and Sinewave. Both help us in spreading the record. Midsummer Madness also helps us in the pressing of physical disks. They both also help us to schedule shows here in Brazil.
How did the funding worked for the LP? Did you invest a lot yourself? Was your label supportive in that respect?
Yes, the label helps with a portion of the money to make the LP, and it returns in LPs to be sold. The other part is paid by us and we have the equivalent in LPs to be sold as well.
Where does the majority of the money go when you’re paying your own way?
Most of the money goes in the beers.
Do you make a decent revenue from your music or is it still very much a hobby?
We do not have enough revenue for considering it a professional work. In the best of situations we can pay the expenses. But that does not mean that we will change or give up, because we do what we love.
How do you sell your recordings (shops, online, …)?
Our label, Midsummer Madness, sells a part of the discs online. We sell online also through bandcamp and at shows.
What is the next album due?
We're thinking of making a single or an EP now. But we do not have a definitive date yet. It would be good to be this year, but...
Any other project (ie movies soundtrack, …) or plans
Richard plans to make a horror B movie. He really likes 80s-b-horror-movies. Maybe I'll do the soundtrack. Something with synthesizer or noisy bending guitars. It can be funny.
Do you plan to continue music for a long time or are you tired of it?
We do not intend to stop playing music ever. While it is possible to step on the pedals, they will be busy. I do not think it's possible to get tired of something that you love. Circumstances change, sometimes they get difficult, but that's what makes things worth it. I could get tired of not loving anything.
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