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The mysterious, half-masked L.A.-based indie-pop auteur AM and London-based groovemaster/experimentalist Shawn Lee met cute over the internet , became AM & SHAWN LEE and before you knew it are the latest signees to ESL Music where they just put out a great record “Celestial Electric” which showcases their love of “vintage genres, encompassing pop, soul, funk, jazz, Brazilian tropicalia, Turkish psychedelia, and soundtracks and library music from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s”.

This weekend, you get a chance to catch them not once but TWICE in one day: for a special RLife DJ set in collaboration with Renaissance Hotels at 6pm and then a live show @ Montserrat house at 10pm (with Peggy Sue to boot!) so we figured it’s as good of a time as any to catch up with them online and have them tell us a little bit about some of their favorite tracks from their new record. Enjoy below:

Shawn Lee:

CITY BOY was the first song AM & myself wrote and recorded for our debut album Celestial Electric. I recorded the drums and percussion on my old Tascam cassette 4 track machine. The general groove was inspired by a 70’s Spanish psych tune that AM and me heard on his car stereo after I did a live session for KCRW. We agreed this beat would be a good look for us and we should make an album together! After returning home to England, I recorded the drums/perc in my studio in London and emailed them over to AM in LA. He wrote a song to the groove and recorded some guitars and synths and vocals and sent back to me. I was blown away when I heard the result. First song and I could tell we had a magical chemistry. I then added bass, glockenspiel, 12 string acoustic guitar and some additional percussion. A bit of mixing and presto City Boy entered this world!
(video above is of them in rehearsal-ed)
THE SIGNAL was the last song written and recorded on the album. We wanted another up tempo song for the record. The initial percussion groove was inspired by a old Turkish psych record but ended up sounding nothing like it in the end. The opening rhythm was played on a  home made Brazilian drum I picked up in a flea market. Again recorded on my old 4 track cassette tape machine.  In fact, I recorded all the drum and percussion on the album on the same 4 track machine with a cheap plastic mic that was given to me! I added bass,guitars,synths and glockenspiel again. I feel like the glock has a very childlike quality and adds a nice contrast to the more electronic elements in the track. I then sent over to AM and he wrote the song on top and added more guitar,synths and vocals.


DARK INTO LIGHT, like many of the tracks on our album Celestial Electric started with Shawn sending me a drum beat. It had such a funky groove it would have been easy to have everything follow that. Instead of writing on the guitar or bass (which I traditionally did more of) I chose to start building this track on the keyboard. Since my keyboard playing is pretty bad coming up with a simple line is never a problem, but often I feel a cool unique tone and a simple line is all you really need. I wrote the whole bass line on a cheap Casio and later replaced it with a Moog Rogue. The result is a very keyboard heavy track with very little guitar. The vocal came with the bass line so the whole tune was written in about 10 minutes. My previous keyboardist Jesse Nason and current touring keyboardist Brett Bixby topped the tune off with some tasty parts. I knew we had something pretty special with this song.

WINTER SUN is a special tune for me. I had recently been listening to an obscure 70’s children’s music album and it had all this quirky, baroque-ish folk on it. Shawn had sent me this amazingly delicate shuffle groove and I knew I wanted to capture this folk-ish sound, but do justice to the beat with some groove. The result is something I’m really proud of. It’s folky, but in a jazzier way while the bass is almost more like an old mellow funk groove ala Curtis Mayfield. It’s got acoustic steel string, ukulele, wah guitar and even the sound of my very first Casio PT-80 from when I was a kid. It’s literally the sound of it “turning on” with some delay on it. Like it’s title and lyrics it’s a bitter sweet song, dealing with entering new and unfamiliar ground in a relationship. It’s much harder to work it out than it is to walk away.