By Nicholas Jason Lopez
With a sound that borders on the edge of psychedelic, gothic and post-rock, Portland, Ore.-based experimental duo Lore City dropped their fourth studio album ‘Participation Mystique’ back in late July, an appropriate followup to 2020’s ‘Alchemical Task.’
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with members vocalist/keyboardist/guitarist Laura Mariposa Williams and percussionist/keyboardist/guitarist Eric Angelo Bessel about ‘Participation Mystique’ and more.
Music Bugle – How did you get to decide on the band name?
Laura Mariposa Williams – We wanted a band name that evoked the collective human experience. In folklore, there is the concept of “tale types,” which refers to recurring plot patterns in stories. Lore City is the name we came up with to express this idea that humans are living out these cyclical patterns through the ages.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for the ‘Participation Mystique’ LP?
Laura Mariposa Williams – Our goal was to continue evolving the sounds, thematics, words and visual artwork from the previous album. ‘Participation Mystique’ is like the sequel to ‘Alchemical Task.’ We didn’t take much of a break between writing and recording the two albums, so we could maintain the continuity.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Portland, Oregon to someone who has never been there before?
Eric Angelo Bessel – In light of the global pandemic and the effect it has had on communities all over the world, I sense that the “feeling” of any one place, regardless of the place, has evolved, but even before the pandemic, places and neighborhoods in Portland were in a state of transition. I’ve watched older houses in Southeast Portland get torn down and then seen three -sometimes, four – new houses pop up on the same lot. A new light rail train line was introduced, which I would then ride to work every day for years. A favorite food cart selling fresh hand-stretched noodles, with lines down the block, obscuring the other food carts, simply disappeared. This may be a familiar tale in other mid-size cities, it just so happens to be mine. It’s not uncommon to pick up the whirr of a lawnmower engine in February, or have a hat blow off your head when walking across the Morrison Bridge. Sometimes, the residential streets remind me of places in upstate New York and sometimes, the record stores make me feel like I’m in the East Village 15 years ago. I am grateful for the affordability, flexibility and access to resources that Portland offers, as it has enabled me to create in ways I haven’t found to be possible elsewhere.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Laura Mariposa Williams – The soulfulness of it. Our style is to dig deep and create emotive experiences. That’s what I love most about music anyways and why I think it’s the greatest art form in the world.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Eric Angelo Bessel – Social media can be helpful for musicians. There’s something to be said about getting out there physically, also having a website with news and press and embedded players. However, social media can be a place where musicians, fans and industry pros find each other. We haven’t discovered how to be everywhere at once just yet – unless of course, you believe that we’re all one consciousness experiencing life subjectively, so social media is one way of keeping up with what’s going on all over the world. It stands to reason that Lore City would finally begin using social media in a time when travel is so restricted. All this to say, I think social media can be a great introduction. It’s an access point. In the past year, I discovered incredible artists like Penelope Trappes, Shida Shahabi and Zakè – I bought their records after being introduced via Twitter.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Laura Mariposa Williams – I’ve been reminded of how much we take for granted every day and how important it is to stay present in the moment – that elusive “eternal now” experience. I’ve also been reminded of how much I have already and how grateful I am for my relationship. Eric and I have made peace with not being able to play live shows right now and continue to write and record instead.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Eric Angelo Bessel – I rely on exercise for balance and stress relief. It’s incredible how much better 45 minutes to an hour spent on an elliptical machine will make me feel. Every once in a while, I’ll visit a community acupuncture center. The ones in Portland are really affordable and offer a sliding scale for payment. I really recommend acupuncture and have yet to experience deeper relaxation, meanwhile treating whatever may be languishing.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Eric Angelo Bessel – Anna von Hausswolff’s ‘All Thoughts Fly,’ Saba Alizadeh’s ‘Scattered Memories,’ Ak’chamel’s ‘The Totemist,’ Emma Ruth Rundle’s ‘On Dark Horses’ and Abdel Halim Hafez’s ‘Zay El-Hawa.’
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Laura Mariposa Williams – I had a teacher – Jill Doscher – my freshman year in art school, who said that being an artist meant you had to embody five things – practice, passion, patience, persistence and push. She called them the “Five P’s.” Lately, I’ve been thinking about this and how things have changed over the years. When I first started writing songs, I was fueled by practice and passion. Now, I focus on the persistence of what I’m doing, along with pushing myself to grow as a songwriter.
Music Bugle – What’s something that people might be surprised to know about you?
Eric Angelo Bessel – I spoke my first word, “corn” at two-three months and echoed the word every time I heard someone else speak it. My parents described the sound as something that seemed to emanate from my chest rather than my throat.