We've waited long and we've waited patiently for the arrival of Say Lou Lou's debut album and the perseverance is more than amply rewarded with this month's international landing of Lucid Dreaming.

A musical light at the end of a tunnel, the record wraps up three years heavy with action - there was a compulsory name change, a split from their label, Columbia, and a lot of hard work on a catalogue of very, very good songs. As you'd expect with a collection of songs that has been meticulously devised and thought through, it caters for those who look for a cohesive long-player but also for those who want individual pop nuggets to drop onto a 'Miscellaneous' playlist.

We braved a relentlessly rainy London afternoon in February to meet up with Miranda and Elektra Kilbey, who talked to us animatedly about Lucid Dreaming and also posed for some snaps, presented here for your browsing pleasure.

Say Lou Lou

Hello Miranda. Hello Elektra. The album's finally upon us and we are enjoying it thoroughly but, here's the thing - in the spirit of honesty, we must admit that we find waiting for anything - even a bus - a bit excruciating. Why did it take so long to arrive?

E: It's mostly for practical reasons, label, no label, our own label... They're really, quite uninteresting reasons. Most of the material has been there for a while, although we've added a few more things in the past year. But most of the songs have been with us for some time and it was more about the logistics of how to get it out rather than what to put out.

M: Yeah, we wanted to do it on our own terms and be happy with the end product and feel that it was cohesive and also that it is going through the right channels. Working with the right people has been one of the biggest journeys for us.

Has it, at any point, felt like an uphill struggle?

M: Well, actually, I think we're lucky, super-lucky because, on the whole, everything has been quite easy, really.

E: We've been blessed in that respect, but on the other hand we have had a bit of a struggle, in terms of the name change, labels and practical, boring things. That's been quite annoying.

M: But overall we've been really lucky.

At various points during the recording process you took pauses to perform live shows all over the world. Do you find the time for song-writing when you're on the road?

E: Nope.

M: No, we can't do that. The road is not a place for us to work.

E: It's not a creative place. We've had a few melody ideas, melody moments here and there but I think it's a bit of a myth, that, you know, the whole 'people writing when they're on the road' thing. Most of the time you're trying to catch up on sleep, trying not to be hung-over and trying to make it through soundcheck and do a good show.

Say Lou Lou

When you're writing together, do you normally agree on what works and what doesn't? Is it easy to reach consensus?

E: Consensus, yes. But we do also argue a lot about the music, about ideas. Well, actually, it's not really arguing but more discussions. We are individuals and [to Miranda] I can't always like your ideas -

M: No. And I think often we have to understand what kind of world the other one is trying to build. So it's a case of: I do understand where you're coming from, however... I think we should this, instead. But generally speaking we do reach consensus.

Who decides which one of you is going to sing which line on a particular song?

[Both]: We know.

E: Yeah, we just know. And often it's a matter of -

M: who came up with that specific melody.

E: Yes. And also sometimes it is a matter of a range.

And you're usually happy with the role divisions?

M: Yeah. I mean, you sing what you're comfortable with.

E: Our rule is that's what is best for the song is best for the song.

M: If there's a song where Elektra's voice is better suited for it, you know - if it would benefit from the whole song being sung by Elektra -

E: Which we have on the album -

M: Yes, and there's one which is basically only me singing but with Elektra doing backing vocals... You know, it's not like we're saying 'oh it has to be 50/50' or anything like that.

But it's not like Destiny's Child, where Michelle Williams only got the bridges.

M: Haha. No.



It's heartening that 'Beloved', one of your, erm, most beloved tracks by fans, has made it onto the album. Originally it was relegated to the flipside of 'Better In The Dark' but, for many, it should have been the lead on the single -

M: Yes, for us as well.

E: Yeah, definitely. 'Better In The Dark' is a lovely song and, in my opinion, a well-composed pop song but for the album we chose the songs that every time we sing them we get -

M: We get goose-bumps. 'Better In The Dark' is fun but it doesn't give me shivers. It doesn't make me cry. But 'Beloved' does that for me.

E: Yes. And 'Better In The Dark' could have been on the album. It's not as though we don't like it as a song but the album wasn't longing to have it on. We put all the songs together and we felt that we wanted every song to be different than the others. We just felt that 'Better In The Dark' was quite similar to some other songs. It didn't add anything new to the context of the album.

M: I can see that some people would be, like, why are 'Beloved' and 'Peppermint' on the album but 'Better In The Dark' isn't? I actually stumbled upon a chat-room where people were arguing about why some songs weren't on the album and I really wanted to go on it and explain. Because some people sound really angry about this stuff. Some fans might like a particular song so much that they get angry.

E: But for us it's about what songs fit together and what songs work together as a whole. That was how we went about it.

Say Lou Lou

Do you think some day 'Beloved' might get its proper glory moment?

[Both]: Yes!

No longer the bridesmaid but the actual bride...

E: Yes.

M: We hope so! We think it's a perfect song to create a music video for and we've had ideas for a music video for it for a long time. We would love to be able to give the song a visual moment with a storyline. Perhaps a short film.

Let's quickly talk about a couple of other songs that didn't make it onto the album. First, 'Maybe You', the song that started it all for you.

M: We couldn't put 'Maybe You' on the album.

E: Kitsuné stuff.



How do you view that song now?

E: It's very nostalgic for us. But it's the song we listen to least, probably.

M: Yeah, I don't really listen to that one. But I feel a big wave of nostalgia. It was back when we were 19 or 20 and things have changed a lot since then. We've changed and the project has changed. It was a cute teenage dream.

But it does still feel like a faithful blueprint for the songs on Lucid Dreaming.

M: It is. Thankfully we found our sound and our aesthetic with that song straight away.

E: And we've wanted to stay true to it. We have diverted from it a little bit because we wanted to try different things. 'Games for Girls' is an example of that - it was an experimental collaboration with Lindstrøm. But yeah, 'Maybe You' was the core aesthetic that we devised for the project and which everything else has stemmed from. So you're right, yeah.

Another song that hasn't made it onto the album is 'Eclipse'. It appeared on an early unmastered version of the album sampler and sounded like a mammoth hit in the making. In the politest of ways, WTF?

M: Back when we were with Columbia Records they made that album sampler for internal purposes, just for people we were working with but it leaked out. 'Eclipse' was just a demo but people assumed it would be on the album. So people have been counting on a song that we never even said we wanted to release or have.

E: That's nothing to do with us, really.

Say Lou Lou

But you guys wrote that one, right?

E: Yeah. The thing is, it's a great song and we liked it. That song was one of our most sarcastic moments and it was semi-autobiographical but we didn't think it would fit on this record.

M: I mean, who knows about the future but it was not right for this record.

One of the standout tracks on the album is the Hannah Robinson / Richard X collaboration, 'Wilder Than The Wind'. Is it true that this song is also your dad's favourite?

M: That was quite unexpected. I thought he'd go for -

E: 'Skylights' -

M: Mmm... maybe, but I don't know - I was just very surprised that he liked it because he is very critical.

E: Yes, he's very critical. He has a lifetime knowledge of music and he is very particular. He's been making music for about 45 years now and I was expecting him to say something like, 'yes this is fine but you can do better with the next album'.

M: Our parents are very honest with us. They wouldn't go "my kids are amazing and they can do anything". After a show they would be very honest with us. [Adopts parental voice:] "That was a bit pitchy" [laughs].

E: But I like that because it makes me feel like when we actually do something good they'll tell us that we nailed it. And I know that they'll be telling the truth. But yeah, I was quite surprised that that was his favourite song. I don't know why he loved that one in particular, though.

M: We sent him the final product and then had coffee with him the following day. He was very nice about it. You can get into a lot of the detail and production specifics with him. He was really impressed, actually.

E: He thought it was slick. His music has ever been about being slick but he was impressed that the album was.



When you listen to other people's music, what - to you - is the most important ingredient for a good pop song?

E: Something personal.

M: And emotional. Even if it's happy, there has to be some detail in it that will haunt you. It can be a word or a phrase that makes you go 'ok, I get it'.

E: Or it has to be a really solid, interesting hook that feels undeniable.

And on which song do you think that you managed to achieve the emotional pull the most?

M: 'Beloved'.

E: That was the song that was the most urgent. The other ones are also emotional but more subtly. I think 'Beloved' is the one that most of the anger went into. 'Nothing But A Heartbeat' is angry but you're so worn out that you can't be angry. It's more about the release.

Earlier you were talking about interesting hooks and the album really triumphs at delivering strong choruses. Which song on the record achieves that the most, to you?

M: Oh god, that's a really difficult question to answer.

E: There's this really weird Swedish expression that goes: the taste is like the bum; divided. Some people like this, some people like that. So, yeah, taste is like bums, it splits.

Say Lou Lou

Say that in Swedish for us.

[Both]: Smaken är som baken - delad.

E: All my friends, all our fans have different tastes and opinions. A lot of our friends feel 'Glitter' is the most undeniable chorus and, for us, it changes. 'Nothing But A Heartbeat' is the most euphoric in a classic power-chorus kind of way.

M: With that one I feel really satisfied with how we got the melody and the chord progression to sound major even though the lyrics are in stark contrast to that. Lyrically, though, I think we reached a certain peak with 'Hard For A Man' - we love that lyric. But you change your mind all the time.



'Nothing But A Heartbeat' is a great album-launcher.

M: Yes, we love it.

E: We worked on that with Karen Poole and a guy called Chris Loco here in London maybe a year-and-a-half ago. The idea was to create something that sounded euphoric because we didn't have anything euphoric or climax-y at that point -

M: And we wanted it to have that sort of feel. But it ended up being a very sad kind of euphoric song. It sounds really happy but -

E: It's the most depressing song. It's very sad. The narrative is a mix between Miranda's and mine.

M: And the writers we write with.

E: It's about the character in the song having been through everything with this man who has pushed her over the edge so many times but she kept taking him back and going over it again and again but to the point that there is nothing left in her anymore other than a heartbeat. When you have no love you are then no longer scared of losing love. And that's where the euphoric bit comes in because she is no longer scared. But it's sad because she is not only devoid of the angst but also of love.



Do you get nervous about reviews?

M: Of course. When people say "I don't care about reviews" that's ridiculous because when you've been working on something for a couple of years, you want people to like it.

E: But as we said, taste is like the bum, it's divided. Some people will hate you, regardless of what you do and, at the same time, some people will love it.

M: We have a fan-base which we feel is a very loyal one and there are a lot of amazing people spread all over the world who really support us and love what we do.

E: And that means so much to us. At the end of the day they are the ones that we want to please.

M: And ourselves.

E: Yes, and ourselves.

M: But I think that if we get good reviews, I'll be very happy and very proud. And if we don't, then, what can you do?

E: [Fake crying] "Fuck you, you know how much work we've put into this? You spent, like, an hour listening to it and we've spent two years making it" [laughs].

M: I remember with Chet Faker he got pretty much only good reviews, I think, and then he got one really mean, shit, review which was a lot about his beard and about being a hipster and stuff. Then he wrote, like, this slam about how he had spent two years making the record and the reviewer had just put an hour into the reviewing process and he's right - it can be really annoying when you've put so much work into something and sometimes people don't even listen properly -

E: They just skim through it and pass judgement on the basis of the artist's beard? That's what people do, I guess.

M: But, it all comes down to taste being like the bum.

E: Yes, remember that!


Lucid Dreaming is out on A Deux/Cosmos Music now.