Like countless artists suddenly suffocated by the grips of isolation at home, the Brooklyn-based multi-instrumental producer Nick Louis appears to have taken the pandemic as the perfect opportunity for a creative tag-team. In the past few months, he sorted through his mind's musical hard drive and came up with the backing-tracks for anything and everything the Lyricist "H. Warren LaSota" would upload and send his way over the internet. It was the beginning of something sonically astronomical, and this month—the Folk-duo now performing under the cognomen, "Almost Sex"—release their debut single, "Knock Off," festooned with heart-melting melodies and a buoyant cadence.
It's a project that probably happened ten times over by the time August came around, as artists began colluding over Skype and Facetime for their next artistic collaborations. But with the clandestine Folk-pop vibes oozing from this title, Almost Sex's first sonic offering feels like something an enchanting experience that only comes around once in a blue moon, by a chance encounter, and only when the stars align.
Opening with the heavy-weighted chugs of an acoustic guitar that feels so intimate, you can hear Louis's fingers chaffing little against his strings, "Knock Off," suggests like a slow-supple drive down the poetic narratives spun together by LaSota herself. When the duo's soft-spoken croons materialize into existence—diffusing from the fleshy walls of the closed-door room they sing in—it's almost impossible not to feel lost in the buzzing sensation their voices instill, as the hair stiffens off the back of your neck. As their soft-intonings synergize over quivering unison, the two Talents quietly devastate with their fleshy resoundings, "I'm starving when I look at your friend, and I see, it can't be their ever-changing trend. I break before you bend,"
As you float-along past enamoring verse and captivating hook, "Knock Off," renders up like a nighttide walk through the cohesive, creative juices of two unrelenting musical talents; chaperoned mainly by the up-close and personal versifications of Nick Louis while LaSota garnishes the breaths of her partner's every word for a combined effervescent texture. Imagine sitting in a dim candle-lit room, with an introspective serenader articulating heavy-hearted incantations over his guitar and the empyreal whisperings of an angelic muse gliding over you like a welcomed draft in a hot and sodden room.
There's no shortage of Folk vibes, with an earthy beat the festoons the more evolved sections and transitions of "Knock Off." And as the final twinkles of coruscating muted-pads hum their ambiance dripped notes from the backdrops of the mix, you're left wondering what kinds of sensation this talented duo will muster up for their next upcoming Folk endowments.
Can you tell us more about the narrative you chose to highlight through "Knockoff?" Was this a song based on real-life experience?
At times, when you first meet someone, you feel pressure to go to bars or parties you might not typically go to, or their friends are people you don’t think you’d otherwise spend much time with, but you go anyway because you’re interested in the person. ‘knockoff’ is based on this feeling, and with the lyrics, we built a hypothetical narrative around that feeling. Basically, there’s a new couple whose dynamic is tested when the ‘knockoff’ feels pressure to be someone they’re not in order to impress the friends of the ‘prettiest pretender.’ The response is, “maybe I’m a knockoff, but I’ll still get your rocks off,” so maybe I’m not as posh and cool as you think your friends are, but if you put that all aside, I clearly have what it takes to make you happy.
What sorts of emotions do you both need to channel into to capture and deliver the performances featured on "Knock Off?"
For us, building a narrative together has been super fun and successful way of collaborating. Starting the narrative can be like setting aside a few colors for a painting. Once you’ve selected them, you can imagine how they would interact with each other on the page and keep the process moving. In that way, Nick picked the “colors” for our song ‘knockoff’ when he began working on a rough melody on the guitar. The mood and emotion of these initial riffs inspired the characters we ended up writing about in the lyrics. What's been the most significant learning experience for you two as artists collaborating virtually during 2020?
A departure from normalcy has been the theme of a lot of people’s experiences so far this year. In a lot of ways, this was scary and intimidating, but the shake from our routines allowed us to open up to new possibilities. For instance, the process of writing melodies based on lyrics was new to Nick; in the past, the lyrics always came after the melodies were in place. When we think back to when we first started talking, there was no possibility of meeting in person. It’s hard to imagine we both would have stepped out of our comfort zones and bonded as quickly as we did if it weren’t for the crazy circumstances. If you could give us a few words that would act as the Prologue to the experience behind this Debut single, and the rest of your anticipated Musical Catalog, what would you say and why?
There is such pressure to become hyper-specialized or to be able to define oneself in a few words or labels. We both have chosen unique and challenging career paths, and as such, have had to grapple with certain societal expectations that just don’t make sense for us as artists. As we continue to write music, we hope to resist the tendency to become pigeonholed or work within a single genre or style. It is important for us to feel the freedom to move laterally as we grow rather than climbing a single ladder. We believe in taking time to stay up to date on political and social issues and support and learn from other artists in music, as well as other disciplines. Nick is pretty politically active, and Warren is constantly experimenting in different artistic mediums. We both believe that whatever we learn will only make our music better when we come together. What has been keeping you inspired in 2020?
Before we’d met in person, I was just sending lyrics to Nick with a rough outline: here are some verses, here’s a bridge and a chorus, etc. and he would respond with melodies to match. This was a wonderfully fun way to work. Nick is insanely talented, and opening up a gorgeous demo with my words in a song I’d never heard before was an incredibly unique experience. Our remote collaboration was definitely a huge source of inspiration, joy, and motivation for us earlier in the year. Since meeting and working in person, which was unbelievably exciting in itself, we have been enjoying experimenting with our process and are enthusiastic about finding new ways of collaborating.