About two months ago I exchanged a few emails with the rather brilliant Chi Limpiroj, otherwise known as the London-based songwriter/purveyor of exquisite dreampop: Dunebug. I’d discovered her music sometime last year and had contacted her regarding the possibility of anything new being on the horizon. As luck would have it, yes, she was finishing up the mix (and the video) for what would be her new single; a typically laid-back, woozy gem called Lie to Me.
To cut a long and tedious story short, I never got round to publishing the piece because of life stuff. My wife, son, and I moved for the second time in five months – this time all the way back down from a small coastal town near Glasgow to beautiful Leigh on Sea – and I began lecturing again full-time after the best part of eighteen months changing nappies and listening, non-stop, to Super Simple Songs. So here we are now, and I finally have my shit together enough to hit publish on a piece that should have been up, I don’t know, eight weeks ago. Oh, and the song’s still great. Effortlessly assured and effortlessly cool. Check out the gorgeous video by Sophie Davies below, as well as an embarrassingly belated Q+A with Dunebug on all things music.
A conversation with Dunebug
• I absolutely love your music. I know that – as someone that spends time writing about new music – I’m supposed to be adept at accurately labelling stuff, but I struggle to put your sound into a neat little box. It’s kind of dreamy, woozy, slightly wonky (in the best possible way!) indie pop with a bit of jazz and soul thrown in.. but also nothing like any of that. Ha. See what I mean? Anyway, this is a really convoluted way of asking you how you’d describe the stuff you make?
Thanks Adam! Some very kind words there. It’s a tricky one as I take influence from a mix of genres, for example, some of the woozy, wonky stuff from lofi bedroom pop artists, elements of surf, dreamy female-fronted indie bands, and I’ve had the soul/R&B comment about my voice before, then I sort of mash it altogether and I guess that’s what Dunebug sounds like.
• The Lie to Me video is a gorgeous thing. I love how it echoes the sound and feel of the track by just sprawling out with those lovely long camera shots too. It’s very easy when making a video especially to throw in loads of shots and edits just because you can, but there’s a lot to be said for having the confidence to stick to one idea and see it through. Where did the idea for the video come from, and do you tend to think a lot about visuals when you write stuff?
Thank you so much! I was lucky to have a great team around me for my video, Sophie Davies, the director and editor was the master mind behind the video premise, I was approached with “80’s French picnic” being the vibe and I think with her mind and the super talented cinematographer Michael Hobdell’s vision, we were able to do a pretty good job of achieving that. Sophie takes inspiration from French cinema and cites directors Eric Rohmer and Luca Guadagnino as her influences, and that combined with shooting on 16mm film definitely gives it a more retro feel, which is what I feel some of my music gives off. My good friend Niru Fekri-Arnold plays my onscreen love interest, I couldn’t have chosen a better person for it, and Paige Fisher did a great job assisting Michael. Megan Lee, the colourist, then finished it off by adding the magic touch and bringing the film to life through colours. I never tend to write with music videos in mind actually, but often these music videos tend to reflect my writing so well anyway as it feels like the team understands my music well enough to portray it visually.
• You’ve been making stuff for quite a while under the Dunebug name. When did you start making music, and have you always worked on your own?
I started off in an all girl punk band back in high-school, but then eventually started up a folk band, where I wrote the backbone of the songs and my band mates would flesh it out. I struggle to write songs with others as I’m far too self-conscious to show anyone my ideas or my writing process, possibly because I have imposter syndrome and I’m actually quite musically illiterate, a lot of it is trial and error. Also, my songs are so personal that I’d feel it would be difficult to share how vulnerable I can be when writing with someone else.
• I’m really interested in how you work. Your stuff seems to have all these lovely textures floating around, and you have that rare thing where the instrumentation seems to be saying just as much as the vocals. I’m presuming you’re a guitar player first and foremost, but wondered whether you tend to write in the same way all the time?
I’m really glad you think that, I’m self taught at guitar and I always worry my guitar playing/writing is quite limited. In my folk band there was a lot of acoustic finger-picking, so Dunebug is the first time I am experimenting with writing guitar riffs and solos and exploring effects, it’s all quite new to me, and very fun. My writing process usually starts off with me coming up with a chord structure, humming a melody over the top, then any emotions those sounds evoke I will then revolve my lyrics around. Sometimes I come up with a melody when I’m out and about, so I make a voice recording of it on the go, my phone is absolutely full of them, I just hope I dont lose my phone or die or anything too soon because there are hundreds of weird recordings and ideas on there and it’d be pretty embarrassing for anyone to stumble across those.
• Can you talk a little about your recording process? I mentioned previously that your songs kind of sound like they’re living, breathing things, and I’m wondering where you think that comes from. Also, you record everything yourself, right?
I’m very DIY when it comes to all that, mostly because I’m skint but also because I have a background in sound and it makes sense to give it a good go myself, not to mention I know exactly what I want when it comes to production. I use a pretty basic set up really, I use Logic and record into an audio interface alongside some cool plugins, and I’m pretty happy with the results, it doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg to produce something semi-decent, though eventually it would be nice to do it properly in a studio. I reckon the fact that my songs aren’t 100% perfect and precise may contribute to it sounding like they’re alive? Either way, that’s such a nice thing to say and thank you.
• Music Blogging 101 dictates that I should also ask you about the kind of stuff you listen to. Are there any particular artists that you think have had, or still have, a huge effect on the music you make?
Some of my biggest and earliest influences include Cat Power, Feist and Elliott Smith when I first started writing, but as years went on I started listening to the likes of Big Thief, Julia Jacklin, Soccer Mommy and Phoebe Bridgers, as well as taking influence from the Beach Boys for the beachy vibes. Then some lofi indie such as Boyo, Hether, Paul Cherry, and Michael Seyer. I also really love slightly heavier stuff like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Crack Cloud, Warmduscher, Ty Segall and Osees (I think that’s their current spelling? I can’t keep up).
• As life is sort of coming back to some form of normality, what kind of things are you looking forward to over the next few months?
Gigs! I miss being on stage, me and my live band managed to squeeze a couple of gigs in over covid times, but it’s not the same with social distancing rules etc. I’m also hoping to finally get my album out, it’s been delayed for a while due to going back to work after the first lockdown but it’s on its way!
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