Interview: Sean Lennon, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger
The musican offers insight on his latest psychedelic album with Charlotte Kemp Muhl
The sophomore release from Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl—together The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger—lays eccentric flourishes on top of swirling depths of kinetic psychedelic rock. Lennon's airy vocals are perfectly bolstered by Kemp Muhl's delirious charm. Released today, Midnight Sun is an appropriately titled album—at times otherworldly and eerie, with atmospheric heights reached by complex musicality and lyrical storytelling—calling to mind the style that made Tame Impala's 2012 album Lonerism a success. And with a release on Lennon's own collaborative music label, Chimera Music, it's the latest gem in a sonic community he's been building for years.
Lennon made his musical debut in 1998 with Into the Sun and waited eight years for his next full-length album, the delicate Friendly Fire. In the space between, Lennon collaborated on many projects, lending his voice and musical prowess. Now, with Midnight Sun the duo encourages listeners: dive in, swim deep, open your eyes. It delivers some chugging, danceable psychedelia, but it rounds itself out in the way a concept album does.
Every kind of process was represented on this record. There were all sorts of ways we got there.
"This album, specifically, began as a musical idea," Lennon shares with CH. "There are songs that started with a title. There are songs that started with one lyrical idea. There are songs that began with a riff, not even a melody or a chord change." He notes that "every kind of process was represented on this record. There were all sorts of ways we got there. It could be backwards or from the ground up." Pulling from all areas of inspiration, the duo has been able to construct something dynamic and versatile, but a cohesive experience.
"I've been producing this album for two or three years, but in some ways you could also argue my whole life," Lennon continues. Midnight Sun was recorded in two NY locations, "one is in the city, The Library, and one is The Farm in upstate New York." As for how Lennon feels this release exists within his greater catalogue, he explains, "I don't know how aware I am of my process in the longterm, in a meta way. Some of us are more myopic, living moment to moment. I wouldn't say I have a biographical sense of my work flow." But with the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger's latest, he has definitely established a worthwhile moment—both in the context of his creations thus far, and for the duo's growing group of listeners.
Images courtesy of Chimera Music