Texas is not the place one might expect to be the hometown of a gothic, dark musician, but the surprising truth is that it is. Emo-blasé artist L. $hamPain has shared her music for free since 2015, building her name out of the darkness with unusual, yet atmospheric and cinematic songs. However, it would be better to let her be the one to introduce you to her world.
The first thing that caught my attention was your name. Is there a meaning behind it?
Well, it was created of course for anonymity. The “L” refers to my grandparents who shared that first initial. I am the child of a single mom (my parents were only together a month due to domestic violence), so as is the case with most children of single parents, my grandparents were parents to me. My grandmother passed away in October 2016, but she loved to dance & listen to music — and that was a huge influence on me. But I have to say I love being called “L”. It’s simple; it’s beautiful. And as for “$hamPain”? It’s a tongue-in-cheek remark about my perpetually emo outlook.
Who has inspired your music the most?
I hope that inspirations do not necessarily equal influences. In my early teens it would be Evanescence, in my mid-teens it would be Bjork, and now it would be Natalia Kills (currently in the band Cruel Youth). But if I had to choose only one, I would say Johnny Cash — not the gothic answer you were looking for, I know. But have you heard his cover of “Hurt”, or his recording of “I See a Darkness”? Or “The Mercy Seat”? Definitely gothic to me. His music crosses all genres.
How would you define your music style?
Although it doesn’t sound like it as first listen, I actually draw a lot of my sound from 90’s punk rock and riot girl styles. A primary example of this would be my song “Saltwater”. There, as in most of my music, I took my writing that was originally influenced by bands like Jack Off Jill, and recorded it in a baroque pop way. So, that is part of my definition of “emo-blasé” (which is sort of my pet name for my style of music).
Of anyone, living or dead, who would you most want to collaborate with?
Aurelio Voltaire — since I was a teenager I’ve loved his music. I daydream about singing a duet version of his song “I’m Sorry”.
Your music feels at times quite cinematic. How much have you been inspired by film & television?
I love sitcoms mostly, and yes I am definitely inspired by them. Who wasn’t glued to binge-watching Breaking Bad? And Dexter would not have been nearly so dark & dreamy without the work of Daniel Licht! Also, I credit my love affair with modern music to House MD — after they played “Not As We” by Alanis Morissette, there was no going back. In fact, while we’re on the subject of film & television, recently since releasing Color and Light I have been focusing on writing music for independent films. It’s been amazing.
If you compared the working process of Color and Light with your previous discs, would you say there is a significant difference?
Color and Light was mostly improv. All my previous EPs were based on songs that I had written on the piano or the guitar, and before I ever started recording, I had a very strong plan for each song. With Color and Light, however, on most of the tracks I just recorded some loops off the cuff, and then got in front of the microphone and sang whatever it was that sounded right at the moment. That being said, I also went through and edited my vocal tracks until I got down to just the lyrics that I wanted. But, the recording process itself was very improvisational.
Is there any future project you could tell us about?
Hopefully within a few months there will be something I can announce.
What would you say to those who want to do music?
Well… I would say basically: Music is your voice. Decide how you want to use it.