After releasing two EPs previously, Reading-born musician SG Lewis returns with part one of a three-part project documenting the process and trajectory of a night out on the town. Dusk is the first of the EP series, and it documents the early part of the night in this ode to club music and club nights.
Lewis, who is set to return to Australia in the coming months on a recently-announced tour, was inspired by his time as a DJ to create this project. It’s a release that brings together his skillset of producing, singing and songwriting, with an exciting list of collaborators coming on board as well.
Music Feeds: Why release an album in three parts?
SG Lewis: When I sat down to create the album, the idea of making an album that didn’t have a central theme or concept or story to it didn’t seem exciting to me. So I sat and thought a lot about what I wanted this album to be and what I wanted it to represent. I came up with this idea, to create an album that moved through the different stages of any given night out. After I thought about it for a while, I thought it would be best to split the album into these three different moods, Dusk, Dark and Dawn. I thought that, to get an opportunity to create those three worlds, I needed no more than two or three tracks for each part of the EP, but it ended up being about six. It just felt right to create the separate parts and to release them separately so that people had an opportunity to digest them and to enjoy the different parts of the album separately. So it came from the concept and how I wanted people to digest the album.
MF: Why did the common theme end up being around a night out, as opposed to anything else?
SG: Even though I’m singing on some of the songs, it’s not a singer-songwriter album. It’s a production album. When I think that so many of my experiences and influences in music have been through going out and club music, So much of my music – even if it’s not designed for the club – has been influenced by some of that music in some way. Whether it’s techno or whether it’s hip-hop. Those influences find their way into my music. I wanted to tell the story of a night out through my eyes, and create the music that surrounds that environment. There’s so much music that surrounds club culture that isn’t necessarily club music. You’ve got the music people listen to at the start of the night, or what they listen to at the end of the night. That music still has an attachment to that process, whether it’s disco music or ambient stuff.
MF: How did your songwriting process play out for this project, and was it different to your normal process?
SG: Creatively it’s been really rewarding because the best thing about doing a concept like this, for me, I’ve known what the end goal is for each of these parts. So it’s like painting a picture in a way. Instead of walking blindly into the studio and being like ‘okay I’m just going to make something and see what happens’, I know what my end goal has been for each of these parts and the atmosphere I’m going to create and I knew what piece I’ve been missing. There’s always been an end goal. The actual songwriting process has been different for everything. Sometimes it would start with a lyric that I’d written down in my phone, or it would start with some chords or a beat. It varies so much, that I couldn’t tell you about one way it always goes down.
MF: You’ve collaborated with a stack of amazing artists. What do you love about the collaborative process?
SG: As a producer and as a songwriter I love collaboration because you get a fresh perspective on making music, depending on who you’re creating with. You get to take a part of that person’s creativity and talent, and you get to work that into something that they wouldn’t necessarily do with you, and you wouldn’t necessarily do without them. It’s the combining of these two things that creates something brand new. I’ve made music on my own before and it’s just not really as fun. I just love the process of collaborating and working with other talents. I think one of my strengths is to get the best out of an artist that I’m working with.
MF: Was there anything on this album that came out differently to what you expected after collaborating?
SG: Yeah, definitely. I wouldn’t say that with Dusk. I had most of it formed when I came up with the concept. But I think the parts that are coming, Dark and Dawn, there were tracks that I went into the studio expecting something completely different. I can’t say who they are with, but the next track is with an artist that I really love at the moment. We went into the studio and I really thought that we would create something for Dawn just by listening to her music, but then we went into the studio and made something completely different to what I expected. That’s always a nice surprise as well.
MF: You’ve just announced Aussie tour dates. Will we get to hear the full journey of the three EPs?
SG: I think there’ll just be a taste of parts two and three. I’ve just finished up Dark. So that’s all done, there’ll definitely be some stuff from there. And I have most of Dawn written, but I don’t think I’ll be revealing the complete concept. When the full album is out I want the live show to reflect the album concept, so it moves through the three different movements within the show. I think the show will just be a taster of what’s coming, with a couple of brand new tunes.
MF: Have you thought about how you’ll put a show together with bits of something that’s been created to make sense as a body of work on its own?
SG: That’s always the challenge with the live show. Covering the bases so that people hear what you’ve worked on as a producer but then also creating a cohesive listening experience for the audience. I’ve been to lots of concerts and I’m a big fan of other people’s music. I’m as much a fan as I am someone who makes music, so with the live show I’m trying to create an immersive experience. So the collaborations have to fit within that experience. There are tracks I’ve done that wouldn’t necessarily fit into the concept of the show. So it’s really balancing that, giving people what they might want to see but also making sure that the experience is cohesive.
I came up through DJing and now I’m performing live. I think there’s definitely stuff you can take from DJing into live. Learning from doing warm-up sets for other acts, you could learn how to build an energy so there’s peaks and troughs to the set. The live experience is different with it being original music, and you’re bringing people into your world as opposed to adapting your music to suit the exterior.
Part 1 of SG Lewis’s new album ‘Dusk’ is out now. Catch him touring Australia this month.
SG Lewis Australian Tour Dates
Wednesday, 25th July
The Zoo, Brisbane
Thursday, 26th July
Friday, 27th July