By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Japanese-American singer-songwriter Lea Thomas recently debuted the video for single “Heat Keeps Rising,” featured on her new record ‘Mirrors To The Sun,’ out now via Johanna Warren’s Spirit House Records.
A followup to standout singles like the vividly lyricized “Hummingbird,” “Howl” and “What Did The Music Sound Like,” the new video directed by Michelle Sui continues the trend of unique visuals that border on the edge of retrospective psychedelia.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based multi-disciplinary artist about ‘Mirrors To The Sun’ and more.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for ‘Mirrors To The Sun’ and some of the singles on it, like “Howl”?
Lea Thomas – For that recording and for the new record in general, I really wanted it to feel honest and urgent, so a lot of what you hear is just us in the room, doing a take after not playing the song together too many times. I think that energy supports the story of the song because it made room for some unknowns, in a fun way.
Music Bugle – What was it like making the video for “Howl”?
Lea Thomas – The video for “Howl” was filmed by Alice Millar and directed by Gabrielle Muller over a weekend just outside of the city in New Haven, Connecticut. I edited the footage myself. I always had this vision of headlights in the nighttime when I was working on the song and I think they did a beautiful job bringing that idea to life and much more.
Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?
Lea Thomas – I’m from Hawaii and I am so humbled to have been able to be born and raised in a place that is so rich with natural beauty and that celebrates diversity, as well as indigenous culture.
Music Bugle – What do you enjoy the most about being a singer-songwriter?
Lea Thomas – I know it’s said a lot, but I find the process really cathartic and healing. Playing an instrument and exploring sound can be quite a meditation.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write?
Lea Thomas – I don’t know if I can name one that was necessarily hard to write. The songs come at their own pace and I tend to follow whatever idea feels most ripe at the time.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Lea Thomas – A lot has changed for me this last year – good news, but also challenges, like the fact that I still haven’t been able to see my family overseas due to the travel restrictions.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Lea Thomas – Anywhere outside in nature.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Lea Thomas – I listen to a lot of ambient music during the day. I’ve been really enjoying this record called ‘Music For Nine Postcards’ by Hiroshi Yoshimura.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Lea Thomas – “Consider everything an experiment,” by John Cage.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Lea Thomas – I keep my distance for my own mental health. I tend to have social media apps deleted from my phone, unless I’m in a period of needing to promote or share new work.