You might not have heard of LUH’s Ellery James Roberts by name, but chances are you’ll remember his voice.
His distinctive raw cut-throat vocals used to be part of WU LYF, the Manchester press-shy indie band who, despite media buzz and offers from major labels, repeatedly declined to be interviewed and self-released their only album, ‘Go Tell Fire To The Mountain’, in 2011. They disbanded shortly after.
Fast forward a few years and new project LUH (an acronym for ‘Lost Under Heaven’), with Dutch audio-visual artist Ebony Hoorn, takes all the ambition of his previous band, but after a few years of soul-searching returns with new-found artistic confidence. Their sound is more cinematic, more diverse; it takes more risks. And Ellery is optimistic about the new lease of life it’s given him.
“For a long time after WU LYF, I didn’t really wanna make music,” he admits. “But after stomping my feet for a while I realised it was a real blessing to be able to do this… I started taking myself more seriously as an artist or as somebody creating something rather than just letting life happen to me.”
‘Beneath The Concrete’
“I think it's so important that there are works where people can actually step into a world that is just different from reality."
— Ellery James Roberts
LUH combines elements of film, creative writing and photography alongside their sound. Meeting the morning after a triumphant show at London's Electrowerkz – the first time the duo have played in the capital and only their fourth live gig overall – Roberts describes LUH as more like a “conceptual lifestyle brand” than a band. Oo-er.
Of their multimedia approach, Ebony, who lends her skills as an instrumentalist and artist to the project but also contributes her smoky solo vocals on 'Future Blues', explains: “I think it's so important that there are works where people can actually step into a world that is just different from reality... People can get lost in it”.
Debut LP 'Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing' was recorded over two weeks in a cottage on Osea Island – a rural location in the middle of a river in Essex. But despite the isolation and calm, it's an album with arena-baiting ambiton. WU LYF’s indie hallmarks hang around on songs such as 'Unites', but elsewhere LUH jump from anthemic goth pop ('Beneath The Concrete') to pounding indie electronics ('$ORO').
Up next, they're touring across Europe and in the future hope to bring their eclectic sound to more cities, bigger stages and add more musicians to their live setup.
“You'll be sick of us,” Ellery warns.
His previous work might have been about maintaining an elusive persona but this time, Ellery James Roberts is putting his cards on the table.
LUH’s debut album 'Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing' is out 6th May via Mute.
Taken from the May 2016 issue of DIY, out now. Subscribe to DIY below.