Everything is Always, Nothing New These Days: Lali Puna and [Their] Inventions.

Everything is Always, Nothing New These Days: Lali Puna and [Their] Inventions.

Pieced together in Weilheim in Oberbayern, Bavaria and releasing on the Berlin-based Morr Music, Lali Puna’s long awaited fourth album (¡¡six years!!), Our Inventions, is finally here! This is indietronica at it’s best: memorable, yet without pungent after taste. Delicious!
The electronics-, synths-, mallet percussion-, and drum machine-filled Our Invention is very much based on the motif of repetition. But, it does not at all feel repetitive: it’s therapeutic. Like a mantra. Valerie Trebeljahr’s lyrics touches upon the future, technology, and even the financial crisis. The melodies are steady. With confidence, it drives continuously forward. Yet with caution, Trebeljahr’s lyrics buckles down and holds back any teenage bravado. They know what they are doing, they have taken control, and these are their inventions: “It’s all burnt down, we’re left alone/ We try to have some fun/ All by ourselves/ All alone”. Ok, I will stop rambling, now the juicy part! I had the chance to ask them (Valerie Trebeljahr and Markus Acher) a few questions:
My first itching question: what does “Lali Puna” mean?
Markus: I don’t remember the name of the city where Valerie was born [It’s Pusan] right, but I suggested Lali (
Valerie’s nickname) Puna as a band name. Like Lali from Puna. That stayed. It has no further meaning besides that.
What is Our Inventions about? Am I hitting the right chord to presume there is a strong sense of nostalgia and self-reflection in the album?
Valerie: Nostalgia, no; self-reflection, yes. I’m not a nostalgic person. I just want to think about whether everything goes the right way these days. I don’t say that anything was better in the old days. I just say: The future doesn’t look too good right now.
I feel like Our Inventions has a sort of post-chaos feel to it, much less pushy than Faking the Books. What’s the idea behind this? The blurb on Morr Music mentions “consumer age”, “modernity”, and even the “financial crisis”, can you elaborate on this?
Valerie: Our Inventions is less pushy than Faking the Books, right. We wanted to leave the guitars behind. In fact, I would have loved to go into the dance direction, so some of the songs on Our Invention were four-on-the-floor. But we didn’t succeed. So we decided to throw away the dancefloor bassdrums and the songs turned out to be a lot more quiet.
“Out There” is a song about the financial crisis, that’s right. You can read it as you like, but that was my thought when I wrote the lyrics. I always thought: “financial stuff–why does it interest me?” But after the crisis in 2008, everybody had to deal with it, and I was so angry that bills were paid, but of course, not from the people who’ve caused it.
Well, yes, other lyrics deals with the belief in technology, “modernity” if you can to call it. I think there’s quite a big change now. Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Our ways of communication has changed. It’s great, no questions about it–but you have to ask yourself if there are set backs, too. It’s worth thinking about; at least to me.
I am also very interested in your collaboration with the Yellow Magic Orchestra‘s Yukihiro Takahashi‘s (高橋幸宏) album Page by Page (specifically “Out There” and “Meteor Rain – Leonids on the Morning of November 17th”) and the alternate version of “Out There” on Our Inventions. How did this collaboration come along? Is the last track on Page by Page, “Valerie”, dedicated to Valerie Trebeljahr?

Valerie: To be honest, I didn’t really dare to ask if that song was dedicated to me. I am very happy to have worked with Yukihiro Takahashi! He always works with guests on his records. And for his latest album, his label just asked me if I wanted to work with him on two songs. We decided to include “Out There” as an alternate version on our album, too, because the song and the lyrics are very important to me.
While we are talking about collaborations, I know that each Lali Puna member is also working on many other side projects. How does this affect the “Lali Puna Sound”? Has this solidified? Or do you think this will be forever evolving?

Markus: The members other musical involvements have strong influences on the “Lali Puna Sound”. Everyone of us has a particular taste and preferences in music, and that’s true for all bands. But also, every band has a certain idea or concept and a special sound–an unique way to work, play, and arrange. Though there are similarities between all the member’s affiliated projects, we always try to keep them as unique and separate as possible. We also try to evolve with every differently, with different project, as much as possible.
Ok, after all this serious talk, some quickies from our users:

1. Puppies or kittens?
Markus: kittens.
2. A pigeon with a human face or a human with a pigeon face?
Valerie: very simple, they both look terrible.
3. Noise or silence?
Markus: noise.
4. Pre-1985 influences?
Markus: Ithaca, Bruce Haack, White Noise, Margo Guryan, Hank Williams, Nina Simone, Carmen Maki, Yoko Ono…
5. Why use the name “John Yoko” for that one 7″? Does anyone that Valerie : Notwist :: Yoko : The Beatles?

Markus: Some years ago, my hair was quite long. So, people called Valerie and me “John + Yoko” as a joke. Just beside the fact, that Yoko Ono was the best thing that could have happened to the Beatles, at that point we didn’t think about that relationship. So, when we started to record this folky/duo/cover version, we were looking for a name; that was it. We still use the name and will record some more cover-versions for another 7″, some day soon. We like the name and we admire Yoko Ono.

Valerie: Yes, I really found out about her when mixing the record. Before that, I just know some film work by her. I read Hans Ulrich Obrist’s book about Yoko Ono — so everyone that still have prejudices about Ono should read it!
Check out their inventions:

[update: 12.04.2010]
check out the new album here: http://www.lalipuna.de/shop/

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