A creator of corrosive, brooding experimental sounds, Phoenix-based musician, producer and multimedia artist Sam An aka Lana Del Rabies is preparing to unleash her new record, STREGA BEATA. Set for release on 17th March via Gilgongo Records, the album – the title of which loosely translates as “Blessed Witch” – is a cathartic medium for the musician’s innermost thoughts on the human condition, grief and navigating tragedy. Written, produced, and almost entirely performed by An, STREGA BEATA promises to be an enthralling, powerful listen.
“There is a specific type of grief that comes from witnessing the brutality of what humans are capable of towards each other. If that grief goes unprocessed, it is doomed to also manifest as brutality,” offers Lana Del Rabies about her upcoming album. “There have been many moments while writing this record that I was grieving through an event that was personal or worldwide, and then another sudden, tragic event would happen. I needed to re-evaluate what I wanted to say because my world and perspective had shifted again. Trying to keep up with tragedy can make one feel helpless, and one way to feel in control is through acts of destruction. My personal impulse towards destruction nearly ended this project.”
We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Lana Del Rabies to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and pre-order your copy of her upcoming album STREGA BEATA here
1. Nine Inch Nails – ‘The Great Below’
If you know me or know of me, you are probably pretty aware that I am a Nine Inch Nails lifer. NIN has been my favorite musical act since I was 14 years old, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. The Downward Spiral was my first favorite, but when I found The Fragile (well after it had released), I had never heard anything like it before – especially the more experimental, cinematic and vulnerable tracks like ‘The Great Below’. The ways that emotion on this album are conveyed are so reliant on texture and ambiance, but aren’t too avant garde to be inaccessible. The water themes in this track were something I found myself using a lot on my upcoming album, probably subconsciously because of the emotional experience I always have with this track.
2. Lingua Ignota – ‘That He May Not Rise Again’
I have to admit that I listened to a lot of Kristin Hayter’s work leading up to the writing of this record. I did my best to not overly emulate anything she does, but I also don’t think anyone can do what she does. I think LET THE EVIL OF HIS OWN LIPS COVER HIM is potentially among my all time favorites. It is just such a cohesive, well-thought out, and masterfully executed thesis of an EP. ‘That He May Not Rise Again’ is just not like anything else I have ever heard, and the way it maneuvers between very disciplined, traditional religious music and very honest, guttural, unapologetic cathartic expression for an unrelenting span of time inspired me to push what I was doing with my work further.
3. The Body – ‘Hail to Thee, Everlasting Pain’
I discovered this track almost ten years ago. A friend sent me I SHALL DIE HERE to listen to, I think. I remember hearing ‘Hail to Thee, Everlasting Pain’ and thinking “This is the kind of music I want to make”. I was barely starting to experiment with sound at the time and Lana Del Rabies wouldn’t be established for another couple of years. By the time I started writing STREGA BEATA, I felt a bit more confident about being able to handle composing something like this. I even play actual instruments! Anyway, the way this track (and The Body in general) handles elements from various “dark” genres without ever commiting to a genre is exactly what I love about making music.
4. FKA Twigs – ‘Mary Magdalene’
I discovered FKA twigs in 2014 around the time she was releasing her first EPs. I was always impressed with how she brought a poetic darkness into really catchy but still experimental music. It took me a while to hear Magdalene, but it is absolutely my favorite of hers. I love the way she uses religious metaphor through the record to address her personal experiences and comment on gender roles in relationships without ever being too heavy handed. I also love Nicholas Jaar (he among other collaborators with FKA worked on this), and the way this track ended up sounding feels rooted both in the beauty of traditional music and something really futuristic and otherworldly.
5. Diamanda Galas – ‘The Litanies of Satan’
I think what I love about Diamanda Galas’ work is how determined it feels. It’s more than relentless or raw; it is determined to be what exactly it is, with no hesitation. I think this applies to her more classically inclined work and especially to work like The Litanies of Satan. I am also obsessed with tracks that are maximal even though they are compositionally minimal. It’s incredible when you think about the fact that this came out in the early 80’s. I’ve definitely found her to be more of an inspiration for what I do performatively and in my vocals as well. I would love to have her range and ferocity as I age as an artist.
Thanks to Lana Del Rabies for sharing her favourites with us.
Watch her video for ‘Hallowed is The Earth’ below.
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