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The above picture is taken from Lou Reed’s 1959 high school year book and that line about taking life as it comes is kind of perfect I think.  I sort of felt the need to write at least something here today having now had a couple hours to process the fact that one of my favourite artists has died.  I adore The Velvet Underground and between that sublime body of work and his solo oeuvre, Lou Reed’s music means a lot to me.  He was just so cool with that seductive, nonchalant sprechgesang; the perpetual sunglasses; the fact he was part of the Factory crew with Andy Warhol; and, of course, those frank, beautiful lyrics about drugs and would-be romances.

Nico, Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground at The Castle, 1965And yet in spite of that whole casual, indifferent demeanour he was always so incredibly enthused and passionate about creating and appreciating music and, yeah, sometimes it wasn’t great (I’m thinking mainly of the Metallica collaboration), but more often than not Lou Reed produced music of otherworldly quality, pushing the boundaries of the underground art scene and paving the way for innovative, exciting new sounds.

I’m not really sure what else to write, because nothing I write will do him justice or explain how much I love him and his music and how much it means.  I guess this lyric from ‘Berlin’ kind of sums it up for me anyway.

“oh babe I’m gonna miss you now that you’re gone”

RIP.

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“Make sure you write that I’m a cat inside a man-boy’s body, Rob is an android, Aoife’s secretly a forty-year-old woman and that Jeffrey is actually a clone called Joffrey.” These are my parting words with Liam, singer and guitarist for Dublin purveyors of exquisite, dreamy, scuzzy noise pop, Princess. Drummer Jeffrey was no longer nearby to fight his corner, bass player Rob seemed fairly content with the assessment but Aoife (also on guitars and vocals) was indignant, “Why do I have to be old? Can’t you at least give me something cool?” The lively way they all spark off one another like this, the variety of personalities making little private jokes and exuberantly jamming together in the breaks of filming their video session, all seems to feed into the way they work together musically.

Beginning with a drunken agreement between Liam and Rob and following a member change, or two, to include Aoife and Jeff, Princess was born.“Back when it was just me and Liam the songwriting process was a bit different,” explained Rob, “but now it’s a lot more collaborative; one of us will write a song and bring it in and we’ll try and work it out together.”

Various references are made to an array of artists they themselves enjoy listening to, and it is interesting to note the influences you can hear in their sound. Aoife mentioned a love of bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, and there’s no doubt you can hear that woozy shoegaze rush wash over you when listening to Princess’s music. Liam and former drummer Will’s love of house music led to the eight and a half minute piece of “noise rock house,” Excuse The Voice, at the end of the Black Cat EP. Their earlier tracks might draw comparisons too with the guitar rock of the 60s and 70s, but Liam noted that — again, because of more people contributing — their sound is starting to change, and their newer material draws a lot more from 21st century American indie.

As Jeff pointed out, their new songs are the first which he has officially worked on with the band (Liam said earlier, “When Jeffrey came in we were able to bring out old songs and they opened up and became a lot more interesting; he breathed new life into them.”). This, along with Liam’s “obsessive” new love of Krautrock and his realisation that he does actually like Radiohead, will have shaped the sound of their upcoming releases.

Indeed, debut single, ‘Never Look’, out in January on Trout Records, is a beautifully crafted slice of immersive, distorted noise pop with a somewhat richer sound than the band’s previous songs. Between the single and a string of live dates in the coming months, it seems that Aoife’s somewhat modest desire for more people to listen to their music is more than on the cards. It’s got to be an exciting time to be in Princess and, from the way they all smile at each other after playing, one suspects that maybe Rob’s not an android after all.

Photo by Molly Rowan-Hamilton. 

Originally published in tn2 Magazine