Reality is often filled with rejection and disappointment, and lost spaces is a four man indie-pop band that is trying to face the music rather than ignore it. Lead singer and writer Sam Lopez isn’t a stranger to heartbreak and relates his heart to a motel where people have come and gone in the band’s first full album ‘no-vacancy’.
In this interview, Sam (with a little bit of help from guitarist and designer Yi Shien) delves deeper into how he wants listeners to perceive the songs on this album and as well as the paradox behind a heartbreaking but uplifting song.
FM: Space seems to be an integral part of the band’s artistic identity. Your band name, ‘lost spaces’, and the name of this album, ‘no vacancy’, emphasizes the loneliness of not having that space to be yourself. What does having a space, or consequently not having one, mean to you as an artist?
Sam: There is a kind of freedom to when you find space to be 100% you. But as all things go in life, you can never be that because we’re constantly boxed up with societal norms of how things should be. While I feel like I could never be 100% myself in many situations, lost spaces has given me a place to just discover myself, make art and be unapologetically me while trying to create something for others to try to join me in being themselves, be it through connecting to the music and art or building a space of their own.
There’s a bit of a paradox in your music. The upbeat poppy melody lines are often accompanied by lyrics telling stories of unrequited love, confusion, and heartbreak, implying that even the saddest stories can end with optimism. What’s the story behind deciding to write your songs in this manner?
I’ve always been a sucker for words and lyrics and how moods in the music sorta shift perception. Most of my favourite songs have upbeat compositions but when you peel the layers away you find an artist sharing the depths of their heart. I feel its a way to cope, through the pains of navigating love and life, where even you could find some beauty in solace in a breakdown. So when approaching the writing process, I bear all this in mind when picking a synth line or guitar hook, or a vocal melody. I want to bear what’s truly in my heart, with the upbeat composition disguising my sadness – that might help me get away with bearing my heart too much.
What was the process like for making ‘no vacancy’? What were the most difficult points in making the album. What were the most rewarding moments?
The process for me was really a process of discovery and growth. When I wrote ‘fake.guitars’ in 2017, I wasn’t sure what I was doing or how I was going to turn out as an artist. I was taking a chance on myself, and 2018 gave me a glimpse of what I truly was able to do as an artist and had an amazing team to create, produce, and visualize the album alongside me. I used to be so precious about my ideal writing process (because I am writing about my heart and life) where I was the boss in my own head and creatively I was gonna come up with the best shit ever, so the hardest part was learning that I couldn’t do it alone, and learning to humble myself to seek for help and learn. I think the most rewarding moments came for me when everything came together and I definitely learnt the magic of collaborating and creating together as a team. It was almost like the process of writing ‘no-vacancy’ helped me find space in my heart for others to come in and share that space with.
If you were to prescribe listeners one song on this album to help ease the pain of feeling lost and heartbroken, which song would you choose and why?
For me, it would be the song ‘soft.tides’. I wrote it from the standpoint of leaving behind something/someone that obstructed me moving on and growing. Compositionally, I think this is really one of our best works with The Chief laying down at solid foundation with the synths and with Koon’s lush keys in the bridge section – it allowed me to write some of my most vulnerable but favourite lines of the record. ‘0419’ also could be a song to sorta ease pain, where it talks about “letting your heart win, despite all the pain it might bring.”
There seems to be an ongoing theme in all your artwork for your music and the cover art for ‘no vacancy’ fits in that theme as well. What was the inspiration behind the art style?
The overall concept was that each artwork from all our previous singles are locations or shots of the actual ‘motel’ where ‘no-vacancy’ is happening. So the main artwork of ‘no-vacancy’ is the exterior of the said motel (we call it the ‘The Dorian Motel’, which we will link up and reference in our next record).
Yi Shien: One of the first things most people would notice immediately is the colour palette. I took reference of the colours during the golden hour leading up to twilight. What I’m trying to capture here is this emotional feeling of serendipity as you listen through to album. In other words, imagine walking around a retro motel during sunset and listening to no-vacancy, you would feel a certain wave of nostalgia and emotion when the sun reaches dawn. The art direction of it also took reference of the 90s film photography look which helps establishes a certain characteristic for our band image as well.
What do you hope fans feel or realize from listening to your first ever album? Is there a particular message or story you want to convey?
For “no-vacancy”, the main thing I would hope people take away from it is that as much as opening up our hearts to other people and trying to find love in a seemingly love-less generation seems to be the hardest thing to do, don’t be jaded. Give yourself a chance, do it with caution, but never shut yourself out. We’re human beings, designed to connect, to love and to grow. Don’t let the hurt of yesterday prevent you from seeing the light of tomorrow.