Photography: Patrick Hope & Nik Thakkar
“You were what I wanted, but I can’t make you fall in love with me,” coos rising London-based singer Alo Lee on her latest single, “Inside,” pairing those wistful angelic vocals with smooth, sensual production that sounds best when the sun finally disappears, making way for moonlight.
A collaboration with Exmoor Emperor and Liam Howe, who’s previous work includes FKA Twigs’ first two EP’s and Lana Del Rey’s debut album Born To Die, it’s no surprise Lee’s track glides with the same intimate allure as these two pop contemporaries.
“Inside” is lifted from Lee’s forthcoming three-track EP Ephemera, providing a follow-up to her previous release Twice Burned—the sonic representation of candles burning throughout the night, as you slip slowly into a luxe rose-filled bath. Listen to the BULLETT premiere of “Inside,” below:
“Working with Liam Howe and Exmoor Emperor was an incredible experience for me, mostly because it was such a huge departure from my previous style of creating music. I’m used to sitting down at my laptop and creating in a completely solo environment, so working with real production professionals was something that really got me out of my comfort zone. Liam has worked with some amazing acts like FKA Twigs and Lana Del Rey—two artists I really admire with their own signature sound, so it was an honor to create alongside someone like that. Exmoor Emperor is a production duo that co-produced all the songs on my most recent EP alongside Liam. Their sound is extremely distinctive and I think the world deserves to hear what they have to say musically.”
What’s your creative process and how did that come into play with this single?
“This song is actually one of the first songs I’ve written in the studio with other people present. It was good for me—it forced me to face my insecurities as a writer. The guys from Exmoor Emperor were with me the whole time and we bounced ideas off each other. My personal creative process differs—I mostly love hearing an instrumental and just listen to it for a while to try and feel where it takes me emotionally. Then I start free-styling melodies and lay them down into the track. Then I write lyrics last. The real emotion comes from the melodies and how they flow over the track. It’s crazy that a simple math problem can cause me anxiety, but writing a song flows so naturally.”
What’s the story behind “Inside?”
“‘Inside’ is all about making yourself completely vulnerable to someone—taking that risk without really knowing how it’ll pay off. I think, regardless of how many times you’ve been let down by love, you have to keep trying and not allow yourself to become hardened emotionally, otherwise you can miss out on something truly beautiful and life-changing. All of that is what’s behind the song.”
“The EP is a collection of 3 tracks, called Ephemera. When something is ‘ephemeral,’ it means it’s for a short period of time—short-lived. I’ve often felt like life is nothing more than a string of really fleeting emotions. One day you’re lusting after someone new, the next you’re in love and before you know it, sometimes you’re betrayed and heartbroken. All three tracks have been inspired by that state of mind.”
Describe the move from your Wyoming native to London.
“Growing up in Wyoming is something I’ll always be grateful for. I had mountains in my backyard and fresh air; I could play outside without ever being afraid; I had the freedom to be a child for as long as I needed. You could say it was a really sheltered life, but I think it helped me grow into the strong woman I am today. I needed to leave, though—there’s no chance for a flourishing music career in my small town.
I decided to move to London to finish school, which was a pretty impulsive decision. Since moving here, I’ve taken the strength of my homegrown Wyoming roots to the city and it’s served me really well. I think London is my forever home. The buzz of the city, the constant changes, the mix of cultures—it’s so incredibly inspiring for my work. Moving to a new country is one of the most emotionally challenging things a person can go through, so it would be hard to experience that and not have loads of songwriting material.”
What’s your dream performance environment?
I think some people pursue music because they get that buzz of performing in front of people. I’m less of a performer and more of a creator, a storyteller. I’m in awe with how Sia performs—I think there’s something so beautiful about a faceless performer. In my dream-world, I would be in a pitch-black room, seated on a bed with an audience surrounding me and singing my music without them being able to see me at all. I think when someone experiences a song without any visual stimulus, they are forced to take the music for what it is–no judging of the performer or what they look like. If I could create a performance environment that forced people to forget the visual, that is what I would do.”
What’re your thoughts on Soundcloud as a music sharing platform?
“Soundcloud is incredible—you have to know how to use it the right way to make the most out of it. There is no playing it cool, you have to dig, and dig very deep, really immersing yourself in the space to see the benefits. I’m constantly online searching for new producers and sounds—it helps with inspiration massively and the networking is incredible. I’ve met some very talented people through Soundcloud.”