Vagabon: Infinite Worlds
Vagabon is coming to the UK for the very first time this spring. It’s going to be great.
Published: 8:03 am, April 24, 2017
Lætitia Tamko's first live experience was her debut gig as Vagabond. "It was a pretty small show of maybe 15-25 people at an all-ages venue in New York. I was just excited to be performing live; I was riding that high for a long time," she says, unable to really remember how the crowd reacted because that night was, rightly, "all about me in my head. I kept thinking to myself, 'Oh my god, I can't believe you're doing this. Wow! That just happened'. I was in my own little world."
Fast forward to March 2017 and the 24-year-old is just a day away from going on a month-long tour of the US (which she's not yet packed for), having just put out a storming debut album full of DIY indie rock that filters emotional insecurity through heavy riffs and distinct vocals. "Once I felt that I could make something I was happy with, I was pretty determined to put my entire soul into it," she says of the short-but-sweet eight-track release. Having grown up in "a pretty quiet house" in which her family would play jazz ("there wasn't a large scope of things"), Lætitia learnt to play the guitar before heading to university and started writing her own songs in 2014. Though she didn't really think of music as ‘a career', Lætitia knew she wanted to keep making albums, releasing them and touring.
Discussing her music, she confesses: "I can't put my finger on it. I jump around a lot, and incorporate a lot of different things into one song." While ‘Infinite Worlds' has a lot of rock instrumentation to it (‘Minneapolis'), there are also elements of electronic music and slowed down synths (‘Mal à L'aise' – which in English means ‘uncomfortable'). "It's hard for me to think of a package name for it all," she says, before considering the emotions she wants the listener to experience. "I want them to feel less alone," she begins. "People, including myself, listen to music so often to feel understood or represented in a way; in a feeling, in a thought or in a process - whatever it is… I guess that's just how I experience music."
Loneliness wasn't an obvious theme of the album, but Lætitia feels that her own personality played a part in the record. "I do spend a lot of time alone. I've always been a very introverted person, a person who loves privacy and being alone in solitude, so it probably did seep into it in that way." More than that, though, Lætitia says the album's sense of missing home and different places in the US is because of the amount of travelling she's done. "You're always trying to find literal, physical stability - I think that's where a lot of the mentions of home come into play in the songs."
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‘The Embers', the lead single from the album, is "a shoutout to yourself," explains Lætitia, adding that she was very particular when shooting the video for it. "That was fun; we shot on 16mm film, which was really important for me and the team who worked on it. The restraint you have from working on film, especially when you know you don't have a tonne of it at your disposal, you have to be conservative in all the shots." Taking control of the colour palettes was important for Lætitia, too. "I was really particular about the colours that I wanted to display in the video – the ones that I feel the song represents. "I'm asserting myself in this position and it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks."
The album's title, ‘Infinite Worlds', meanwhile, refers to the many sides of human beings - some of which remain hidden. "It's the idea that people are very nuanced, and what you see can be what you get - but not all of what you can get," she suggests. "It was a way of, right off the bat, telling people who will pick this album up or here about it that I have put a multitude of things into this album," she continues, summing it up perfectly: "here is me, someone that contains multitudes."
In terms of the recording process, Lætitia would spend blocks of days and nights at the studio "sleeping there, waking up and recording. It was a very interesting process but I wouldn't have done it any other way," she says. Having fleshed out the music in the studio, Lætitia wasn't afraid to make multiple versions of her tracks. "I would try something and if I didn't like it, or if I didn't think it evoked the feeling that I wanted listeners to have, I would just scrap it and start all over."
With one hell of an album to her name, Vagabon will play her first set of UK shows in May. "I'm so thrilled," she enthuses, having never been to the country before. "The live show, to me, is the perfect balance between the album and what I feel a live gig should be. I'm performing some of the songs on my own, so I don't lose the intimacy of the way I like to perform… It's really cool to be going to the UK as a musician, with something that I can share and send people home with. That's pretty wild!"
Vagabon's album 'Infinite Worlds' is out now. She tours the UK this May.