I don’t want to hear about how you’re in the fucking club and jamming on your cell phone or loving the drop and having such a good time. That doesn’t mean anything.
Few artists embody up the literal connotations of ‘fantastic’ than Seven Lions.
Sure, his music can be described that way. Blatantly. But he goes deeper. Way deeper. Seven Lions is ultimately motivated and moved by everything fantastical. From his music to his artist name to as much IRL as possible…
“Anything that has to do with fantasy or things that are not of this world inspire me,” says Seven Lions, real name Jeff Montalvo. “When I want to be entertained or feel something emotionally I want to be outside of this world. I love my life and reality but I feel a connection with fantasy themes and things that take you somewhere else. It’s the same when I make music. I want someone to close their eyes, listen to it and be somewhere a million miles away in their head.”
Job done. Especially on his latest, massively long-awaited, EP Worlds Apart. We grabbed Don’t Leave, the opening chapter in his deepest sonic saga it features Ellie Goulding and is just a bit special…
I want someone to close their eyes, listen to it and be somewhere a million miles away in their head
“Ellie is so talented, her voice drips emotion and authenticity. She could sing you a song on Skype and it would sound incredible,” says Lions on a rare moment of downtime between tour legs. “She hit me up on twitter and asked me to remix one of her songs. I was into it but was much happier pursuing an original together. She was super down so we started something. She sent me a vocal which I put a track around and sent back then she redid the vocal and changed it around. I finished it while I was on tour with Krewella.”
Don’t Leave is just one of six tracks that document his development from instrumental tracks to more full-bodied songs. And he means songs. Not just bangers with crass vocals glued on superficially, but something that, he hopes, will transcend time and trends.
“Ultimately I want it to be as timeless as possible,” he explains. “I don’t want to hear about how you’re in the fucking club and jamming on your cell phone or loving the drop and having such a good time. That doesn’t mean anything. I want my music to mean something and have some kind of relevance in 10 years or more.”
Inspired by metal acts such as Opeth just as much as he is by electronic acts like Above & Beyond, Jeff’s mission as a song writer is well under way. But he’s under no illusion as to how hard it is – both as a penman and as a performer who wants to give the crowd every bit of party they’ve paid good money for.
“Songwriters have to compete against the instant gratification of the big room banger,” he states. “Bangers that are just loud and say nothing but ‘hey put your hands up!’… They might just be the flavour of the week but that’s going on in the music industry right now I’m afraid. And they’re the easiest things to drop to get a reaction. Have I played these tracks myself? I’ve played some big bangers! 100 per cent! But I pick them carefully. And when I mix other people’s music I play a lot of big energetic tracks and I use my tracks as the epic sing-alongs. I’m not against all big room bangers. I know people want to have fun.”
Fun: dancefloor fun to million-mile-away headphone fantastical fun, the Worlds Apart EP certainly delivers. And, we’re very happy to confirm, we’re not going to have to wait so long for the next Seven Lions dispatch. These are three more cool things we took from our short conversation from Mr Montalvo.
He’s already deep into his next release…
But don’t hold your breath quite yet…
“I have the next EP lined out and ready to go! The last year was spent on tour and in between labels so I didn’t release much music. But I was still writing all the time! So I have four songs that are almost ready to go. I just need to finish stuff with some of the vocalists. The instrumentals are there. The concepts are there. They just need bringing together. But I’m not stepping on the toes of Worlds Apart. Ideally I’d like to put out a summer single then the full EP early next year but who knows?
… And his creative approach is frame-worked in a unique and personal way
All those deep and meaningful track titles? They’re not just names; they’re emotional moments in time that can influence the music itself!
“Generally when I’m working on a song, it has to relate to my life in a personal way. So clearly I was feeling worlds apart from something or someone at that moment. But that’s super personal. So then the song evolves from that moment in time, no matter how small or trivial it seems in hindsight. I write these songs over a month’s period time but those initial foundations are often set by the original feeling that gave me the title.”
Finally: the tale behind his name.
Just in case you didn’t know – and bringing us neatly back into his favourite fantasy zone – Seven Lions comes from the Gene Wolfe book Latro In The Mist.
“It’s a fantasy novel. Historical fiction. A soldier in ancient Roman times get hits on the head and he suffers amnesia in which he can’t remember anything beyond a day. So he starts writing everything down on a scroll and that’s how you read the novel. The blow on the head also allows him to interact with these gods that no one can see. He’s just trying to find out who he is.”
Find out who Seven Lions is and catch him on tour.
Worlds Apart is out now on Casablanca Records.