Elizabeth le Fey’s gossamer cat’s cradle of mystery, magic, and music finds itself under the moniker of Globelamp. The artist delivers spectral intonations reminiscent of forgotten shores and night tides. Le Fey eschews conventionality and safety nets in her work, and the results are volleys of mesmerizing lyrics and compositions. With “Orange Glow”, le Fey works under a masthead of smoke and mirrors. The album channels ethereal, almost fable-like melodies, with contemporary malaise. The Olympia, Washington musician’s lyrics hum and burn with a sort of prescient and mysterious glow. In advance of Globelamp’s August 18th show at Che Cafe, we caught up with the inimitable le Fey to explore the ideas, aesthetics, and background of the artist’s captivating and innovative oeuvre.
Rob Patrick: I read in an interview that you did with Pulp Zine that you like to buy a lot of tapes from Goodwill, and that you mine around for different genres, bands, and albums. Do you think it’s important for an artist to actively discover music, new and old? Is that sort of insatiable curiosity vital?
Elizabeth le Fey: [Laughs] Yes I do like doing that, but right now I haven’t been doing it as much because my tape player isn’t set up in a good spot. I think it is important but also not really. For example, Enya says she never listens to any music because she doesn’t want to be influenced by outside music. I think it matters on your creative process as a musician/artist. It is always good to be inspired by other artists, but if you have a world inside of you to create and show, sometimes new music slips by you without you realizing it. I feel like I listen to the same music over and over again because I can be lazy about pursuing new music (which I should do more).
“The Orange Glow” is such a haunting album. It’s a beautiful dichotomy of spectral melodies and confessional realizations. So much is hidden, and yet so much is revealed. Lyrically, what is your strategy when writing songs?
Wow, thank you! I write a in my journal a lot. I flip through it and pick out lines to string together. Sometimes I have a concept in mind that I want to verbally frame, other times the story comes to me while looking through my journal.
What has the evolution of social media meant to you as an artist? Modernly, is it more necessary than ever for a musician to maintain activity on the internet?
I don’t know if it is more necessary than ever for a musician to maintain activity on the internet. I don’t like making black and white statements. I think there are a couple of successful artists who never use social media (Enya, for example), though not many. It just matters but I would say that for the most part social media is a tool that is definitely important for musicians, fans, and people in the industry. I made my first online blog about 15 years ago so being on social media to me was nothing that I had to figure out. It has always been apart of my teen years. I found most music I listen to on the internet and through blogs as a teenager. I have always been an “internet person” so it was easy to use my social media as a platform for my art. By sharing my writing in high school on Livejournal I received praise from people I had never met which encouraged me to keep on writing. That is when I realized I wanted to be an artist/writer/musician.
One could argue that photography, mystery, and magic are important parts of your aesthetic. What’s important about the three of these things in relation to you as an artist?
They are all important to me, yes. I studied photography in high school and college and planned on being a photographer/photojournalist. Magic and mystery are a part of my daily life, a sort of muse, that inspires all types of art from writing, photography, and music. Photography is important to me because it is a way to communicate without words. I can frame a picture specifically through my lens to show the world. It’s up to interpretation or it is is point blank in front of you. There is also something therapeutic about working in an actual dark room. I love watching the images bloom on the white paper in the trays.
Geographically, Olympia is such a storied part of music. Day-to-day, is it difficult to divorce the tangible location from the lore and history of the area?
Not really and also yes. It’s a small town but different parts of the small city hold high charged energy. When I am in the Evergreen woods I feel completely disconnected from any of the mythology of the Olympia music scene. It is very peaceful there and a great place to go to reflect, you forget about the day to day drama/politics in Olympia. I think when I initially moved there I had expectations of what the town was like based off the history and I found out that it isn’t exactly what I thought it would be.
The video for “Controversial/Confrontational” is great on so many levels. What did you discuss with the director, Elva Lexa, when creating the look of the images?
I referenced the video “Life on Mars” by David Bowie because of how simple yet colorful it was. I wanted something similar, a sort of black space behind me, where we could glam out my makeup. I felt like the song was strong enough that I didn’t need to have some crazy set design to lure in viewers.
As an artist, what is something that you wish writers or members of the media would ask or consider when they interview a musician?
I’m not sure. I like when people dig a little deeper into the history of a band, I guess, and know who they are actually talking to.
When I listen to your music, I hear, sonically, so many interesting and progressive compositions, and yet there is an aching and old fashioned wisdom to your words and deliveries that remind me a little bit of Bobbie Gentry or Sandy Denny. Do any of your inspirations come from folk or country?
I definitely love Sandy Denny and should listen to some more Bobbie Gentry. Folk music is an influence to me and also some country too like Johnny Cash. I love folk music because it is simplistic but full of meaning. It is easy to make and not hiding behind a bunch of effects.
You have a great, memorizing and quietly powerful stage presence. In your mind, what is the key to a good performance?
Thank you! I think that confidence is the key to a great performance when you are performing alone. That and improvisation. If you mess up but can keep rolling with it and act like you didn’t mess up the audience won’t usually notice. The power of confidence right there.
Finally, what is an inconsequential fact about yourself that you have never revealed before?
I don’t think many people know that I spent half of my live sailing and competitively racing small sail boats (sabots). I even competed in Sabot Nationals in Mission Bay, by San Diego.