L.U.V – Take Me to the Sea
INTERVIEW by Steve Proposch
In today’s largely programmed musical landscape new pop duo L.U.V – Maya and Vivi Mohan (20 and 17 respectively) – rock an authentic live sound and undiluted, joyful energy. Their independently released single ‘Take Me to the Sea’ harks back to times when bands could jump into a recording studio and play their music just as they did on stage.
How would you sum up your performance philosophy?
Vivi & Maya: We want it to be real and happen live as it happens with all the attendant risks that come with musicians playing their own instruments and coming to every gig with as much as they can offer. Interpretative creativity is a particularly human enterprise and we want every performance – whether in front of an audience or in a recording studio – to be unique and expressive of the moment.
When you were young, did you dream of becoming musicians?
Vivi: Always, yes. It was one of the only things I could ever imagine myself doing. We grew up with our Dad being both a musician and a great music lover – with over 5000 records and hundreds of cd’s in the house, music came to sound like a second language. Other things came to mind but were drowned out by the beat. In grade ten I was contemplating becoming a doctor but while up late studying and listening to The Beatles I just thought ‘Let it Be’.
Maya: Kind of. When I was little I used to play this game where I was in a band and we would travel around the world. As I got older I kept learning more instruments and loved playing but I didn’t think I would become a musician. As I was finishing school, one of my favourite things to do was to investigate new bands and listen to their songs and soon I realised that I kind of liked doing that more than anything else – I loved thinking about how songs were put together, what I liked about them, what I would do with that little melody or that drum beat. And it occurred to me that maybe I could write songs as well!
There are lots of jobs – and some vocations – in the world, why music?
Vivi: I guess it’s the fact that one song can become so much more than a song. You can listen to it and for the short time that it’s playing the music feels like the whole world around you. Like a good book (I also love writing!) or a great movie, when you really get into a song you never want it to end – and then it does, and the next song starts. There’s that moment when that happens where you just feel like you can go out and do anything and that’s a feeling that I – we – want to give to other people.
Maya: I studied chemical engineering at university for a year because I loved chemistry at school but began to feel dissatisfied and a bit concerned that I wouldn’t like the kinds of careers available in the field. I started writing some of my own songs and when working on lyrics or melodies would ask Viv what she thought. We began working on them together and found that two of us meant two lyricists, two vocalists and twice as much fun! L.U.V was begun.
What is the genesis of the band’s name?
Vivi: One of our maremmas – they are Italian livestock guarding dogs – is called LLV, which is an old Norse name for girls and means ‘defence’ or ‘protection’. Our mum suggested this for the band’s name and then our little sister, Agnès, said why not L.U.V instead of L.L.V.
Who are you? Where did you grow up? What are your backgrounds? Where do you live?
Vivi: Dad’s Irish (and was born on a ship on the high seas), mum’s a mix of Italian, Irish, English and French. If only this was the beginning of a joke …
Maya: We were born in Sydney and lived there ‘til I was seven and Vivi was four. Then we moved to Maleny in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland to be closer to family. From there we moved down the other side of the Blackall Range to a farm in Conondale where we grow tapas peppers (such as Pimientos de Padron) which are supplied to restaurants around Australia. We’ve both done lots of work picking peppers and manning farmers’ markets on weekends. Though we both now live in Brisbane, we go home regularly where there’s a veritable menagerie of dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, cows and people.
Can you tell us a bit about your first single – Take Me To the Sea?
Maya: We wanted to write a song that was motivating and made people want to dance and be involved with the music. We see it as an anthem: Go and do and be what you want. It’s about figuring out what you want and where you want to be. We thought the sea was a nice metaphor for this – its beauty and vastness and mystery. It represents freedom but at the same time the unknowableness that comes with adventure. What is it that everyone is looking for…?
Vivi: We wrote the verses of the song first – they were meant as an insight into what it can feel like to be lost, to not know where you’re going or to know where you’re going but not knowing how to get there. The chorus came quite naturally after that. We wanted to make it something that would feel like a push, a bit of energy, a symbol. It’s not an answer to the questions of what or where but an urging on to keep looking, to be courageous.
What else do you have up your sleeve – do you have other singles ready to go?
Vivi & Maya: We have three other songs ready to go – recorded, mixed and mastered. We’ve been working on these songs for the last two years or so, although we finished recording them in January. We’re currently working on about another ten songs – dreaming of an album down the track! We kind of just keep writing and demoing ideas and if they don’t work then we’ll just leave it and maybe revisit it later. We like to be working on lots of different songs. Each one puts us in a totally different headspace, and trying to bring them all together and creating threads throughout them is really fun.
What’s good about working together? What do you most admire about each other?
Vivi: The best thing about working together – being sisters – is that we have really good communication. We know each other so well that we pretty much know what the other is thinking. We often pre-empt the other’s ideas or come to the same conclusion at the same time. It makes working really efficient when you’re on the same wavelength. Because we grew up together we’re also really open to each other and understanding, so there’s not a lot of problems when one of us doesn’t like the other’s idea, which can always be an issue when different creative minds/creators/artists come together to meld ideas. (Though of course we have our moments!) We don’t get offended.
Maya: Definitely how much fun we have. We’re so comfortable with each other and have such similar senses of humour that we literally spend the entire time laughing. There are so many videos of us when we’re working on songs (some featuring our cat), just dying of laughter.
What are you currently doing besides the band? Do you work/study?
Vivi: Currently I’m shining shoes, whilst simultaneously playing ukelele, to make ends meet – a hard gig but someone’s got to do it!
Maya: I’m studying music at Queensland University of Technology and just doing a lot of work on the music, website and film clip. Occasionally I give Vivi a couple of bucks to clean my shoes! (I would never pay her for playing ukelele.)
What are your plans for the future musically? What do you want to achieve?
Find out more about L.U.V at luvtheband.com where you can click the link to hear their song on Triple J Unearthed. Their clip will be up on youtube soon!