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Lord Huron

Midwest Tropics

Feb 11, 2011 Issue #33 - Fall 2010 - Interpol Bookmark and Share

This article first ran in our Fall 2010 issue.

Twenty-seven-year-old multimedia artist Ben Schneider has hired actors to stage a fake lecture about a lost civilization of Antarctica and pulled off a guerrilla exhibition of his work in a French chapel. One would be forgiven for assuming his new identity—crafting dreamy, international sound-quilts under the name Lord Huron—is likewise embedded with secret meaning and artistic rebellion.

“I’m not even Lord Huron, I’m just some guy that he hired. He gave me 20 bucks to come do this,” Schneider jokes over coffee before adding, “Actually, I’ve shed a lot of that [performance art] for this project, so don’t worry about it.”

Schneider, who studied painting at the University of Michigan, sees music as a natural extension of his creative impulses, which often take him to surprising places. “I think maybe because of my background in visuals, the way I think about music a lot of the time is very visual too,” he says. “I’ll start with an image that I want to evoke in the music. Sometimes it will end up that way or sometimes it will be completely transformed by the time the song is done.”

To achieve the sunny, Animal Collective-style sound collages and tranquil vocals dotting “Into the Sun” and “The Problem with Your Daughter,” two tracks from Lord Huron’s debut EP Into the Sun, Schneider decamped with his laptop, not to a tropical island, but rather his parents’ cabin on Lake Huron in Northern Michigan, a setting that inspired the project’s name.

“It’s still one of the most inspiring places I’ve found. It’s a hidden gem of the United States, the Great Lakes,” says Schneider. “It’s kinda tropics by way of Midwest. That’s what ‘Into the Sun’ is.”

Subsequently, Schneider did indeed hit the tropics, a trip that is documented in sound samples and Fleet Foxes-reminiscent harmonies on “We Went Wild.” “I took a trip to Bali last year. The story in that song came out of that trip. A lot of the sounds were inspired by things I saw while I was on the island,” he recalls. “I just rented a scooter and drove around the island looking for music and enjoying it.”

Wanderlust is a theme that drives not only Schneider’s art but his personal life as well, fueling a series of post-collegiate moves that took him from Michigan, to France, and to New York before he found his way to Los Angeles.

“I’d never really been here,” says Schneider of Los Angeles. “I guess it’s the Wild West quality of it. I do think it retains a bit of it in comparison to New York. I think there’s more opportunities for emerging artists and musicians here.”

Schneider is scoping out the opportunities while in the process of recording his full-length. “We’ve only played three shows and we’ve only had the band together for about a month now, so it’s all been happening pretty fast,” he says of the unexpected buzz surrounding his project. “Since I had been doing other things for awhile, I forgot how much I love to make music and to play music. It’s weird how you can forget that, what you really love…. It just feels really good. Getting out there and playing live is just such a great feeling. If I could make a living making music, that would be pretty incredible.” (www.lordhuron.com)


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