Lotus Plaza interview

Lotus Plaza is the solo pseudonym of Deerhunter guitarist Lockett Pundt.  Lotus Plaza plays simple shoe-gazed pop tunes, drenched in reverb and easy hooks.  The material here reminds me of teenage four-track dream-pop. At times Lotus Plaza excels at dramatic builds in small spaces. It sounds lo-fi, but it’s certainly well mixed; it’s somewhat uniform but melodies stick in the head. Mostly it sounds like soundtrack music to a critical moment in a John Hughes film. All Deerhunter associations aside, it would still fit comfortably with the revived Slumberland or Woodsist rosters. The Floodlight Collective is the first album by Lotus Plaza and is unassuming enough to be completely enjoyable with its faraway strums.  We got to pick Mr. Pundt’s brain regarding the album via email.

Tell us a little about your background, where are you from? What are you early music experiences that shaped how you play?’

I grew up in Marietta, Georgia all my life until moving a few miles to Atlanta. A lot of people thought it was a trap or some kind of suburban clone, but I really like where I grew up. I definitely seemed different than any other suburban type area. Maybe it’s just because I lived there. My parents had some cool musical tastes growing up so I was lucky in that way.  My mom is a Brian Ferry obsessive and they turned me on to Roxy Music and other stuff like Brian Eno. The first few times I got to play music with people other than myself were the biggest influences on me today. I used to play music all the time with Brad and a bunch of other people. Our first band was called the Floodlight Collective hence the albums name. We would play in his sister’s old room at his house before we moved it all to his dad’s mortgage office. Late nights in the back of that office playing stoned- out weird shit are some of the absolute best musical moments of my life.

When did Lotus Plaza begin and over what kind of time-span does the material on the record cover?

I’ve been recording things myself since my last year of high school when I got my first four-track so maybe that the genesis of what I do now. All of the material for the record was recorded from the early summer of 2007 to the beginning of 2008.

Is there a concept/theme that runs throughout Lotus Plaza? With the lyrics somewhat hidden is there anything you can tell us about the nature of the material and where it comes from?

Not really. It’s pretty much just a collection of songs. Sonically they sound similar but there isn’t any real theme that ties them all together. They all kind of occupy their own world in structure and lyrically. “Whiteout” is about the happiest moment that I can recall in my life. It was when I was a kid and my parents had taken my brothers and I on a vacation to Florida. We did it every summer. My dad was going to the grocery store and I jumped in the back seat to ride along with him and during the ride I felt this wash of euphoria for no real reason. I just remember the light and the wind coming though the window and just smiling. The last song is about this surreal moment I had with an real drunk friend of mine where he was telling me about how he feels so detached from who he is now and that love is some kind of “threaded needle”. It was strange and depressing but resonated long after I took him home.

There’s a lot of effects and reverb on the recordings, is this a way to keep a distance from the audience?

No, not intentionally. I really liked an overexposed feeling to songs. The reverb is meant to give it a lucid sort of feel rather than creating a distance. I suppose distance is sometimes the product of that though.

When I listen to Lotus Plaza, I get a feeling of mixed nostalgia, Is Lotus Plaza a way of looking back?

Yea, I think this album is. It definitely deals with old memories, old emotions, old demons and old ways of looking at things. It’s also a way of looking forward. With a lot of those songs, I feel much different from when I wrote them.  The songs act as a kind of punctuation mark on that era of my life.

Are there plans to involve other musicians in the project or play live?

I’m still not sure how it is, or if it is, going to be live. I definitely would be interested but the idea is somewhat terrifying. Still going over that idea.

Is there a difference between the material for Lotus Plaza and the work you do in Deerhunter?

I know when I write a song whether it would work in the band or as Lotus Plaza. When I write my stuff I don’t think of things in a band setting, I just write. I have to think of things differently when writing for Deerhunter. Songs I write immediately kind of go off as something that would be good for the band or if it is something that could work as a Lotus Plaza song.

How has Lotus Plaza developed over time and what ways to you see the material going from here in the future?

I have definitely gotten better as a songwriter. I still write a bunch of horrible stuff but I get lucky more often now with a good song. I’m not sure where I see myself going next. I get bunches of different ideas for stuff all the time. A lot of times they are conflicting, so I think my trajectory is somewhat random.

On a side note, how has the adjustment been from playing small clubs to stadiums with superstars like Nine Inch Nails?

Well, that was only for a few shows really. That was really strange and awesome at the same time. The shows were like clockwork in how they ran. Every night we’re ready to go at the stage at a quarter to 7 and done at 7:45. Eat a nice dinner there and that was it. Playing to that many people almost desensitized me to an audience. I still get rather bad stage fright but for some reason it didn’t even affect me during those shows. I definitely prefer smaller audiences though, even if they make me nervous.

by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 3/16/2009 in Interviews | Tags: , ,