Interview – Morgane Lhote (Hologram Teen, Stereolab)

Words By: Laurent Shervington

Former Stereolab and The Projects keyboardist Morgane Lhote released her first double single as Hologram Teen, a choppy, krautrock and soundtrack inspired project that harks back to her previous projects as much as it looks forward to the future of electronica.

So your recent 2-track single ‘Post-Apocalypteacakes / Tracksuit Minotaur’ certainly shows some eclectic influences, at times very film soundtrack inspired. What kind of films were you thinking about when you made it? Do you have a favourite horror film soundtrack?

I’m a big fan of John Carpenter movies and more specifically his soundtracks and I would say he’s been my biggest influence musically for Hologram Teen. For the single, I was mostly thinking about movies such as Escape from New York and Dawn of the Dead, but with Post-Apocalypteacakes I wanted to get a similar vibe to the main theme to Zombi 2 (Seq. 8) by Fabio Frizzi. He is such a peculiar composer. He scores the goriest of movies but his tracks always sound somewhat bittersweet and happy. You can tell he is a pop guy at heart. That’s what I aim for I guess, music with dark undertones that will still make the listener happy. Choosing a favorite horror film soundtrack is tough but I would have to pick Dawn of the Dead by Goblin.

How do you think it stands out from the rest of your catalogue? 

I’m still trying to find my feet musically and mix so many different genres in a cohesive way. This is actually my first release apart from tracks I’ve been putting on Soundcloud. These two songs are a bit darker. My tendency is to go for a more playful, dancey mood so it was fun to push myself in a different direction.

Is there any particular link between the two tracks?

They’re meant to be a soundtrack to a weird horror movie set in Studio 54. They both started with beats inspired by the drums from the Escape from New York soundtrack,  sparse with not much more than a kick and snare, rigid but also propelling in a Krautrock sort of way. 

What was the recording process like? Any particular artists or albums that were influencing you at the time? 

Again it was mostly John Carpenter, Goblin, and Fabio Frizzi. I also used a sample of Boris Karloff’s voice for Tracksuit Minotaur and it was really fun experimenting with it in order to make it sound more rhythmic and melodic. I started with a basic kick and snare beat, added the bass, and then went hunting for suitable samples. My producer Rich Bennett is on the same page as me musically. I think I slightly tortured him with finding the right keyboards sounds though, like “could make you make this sound more like Thriller with a dash of long tailed reverb and a spacious feel?” Poor guy…

What do you look for in a synthesizer tone? 

Warmth! I’m a sucker for warm, bassy tones and a full sound. Add an arpeggiator to the mix and i’m sold. I’m currently saving to buy a Prophet 12 by Dave Smith Instruments. 

The choppiness of the 2 tracks sounds almost hip-hop inspired, was this a conscious thing? Who are your favourite hip-hop producers?

Thanks for noticing that! I love hip-hop, especially old school hip-hop. Anything that makes you want to dance from the get go is a winner in my book. The whole sampling philosophy is pretty much my bread and butter. I love looking for that five seconds drum snippet and build from it. I’m obsessed with sampling pretty much and I will sample anything.  I would say my favorite hip-hop producers and artists are MF Doom for the looseness of the beats and the whole comic book character image, GZA for the cinematic feel and choice of samples, and Grandmaster Flash for bringing scratching to the masses. Recently I also really enjoyed Ghostface Killah’s Twelve Reasons to Die albums, I love the whole horror movie/Ennio Morricone soundtrack vibe to them, and All my angles are Right by CYNE (the production is amazing on that record, very crisp and warm).

Your double single is coming out on vinyl early November, do you have a particular affinity for physical releases?

I love vinyl but I will definitely have digital releases in the future too. Deep Distance is the perfect label to release this single on and it turns out they’re vinyl only, which I’m happy with. I’m not a purist about having records only on vinyl though. Most of my record collection is digital nowadays. 

What are your plans for touring in the future? Would you ever come to Australia?

I don’t have any plans to tour at the moment, I guess I’ll see how well my first album does and go from there. I LOVE Australia! It was my favorite place to tour with Stereolab. It’s a beautiful place and I’d be so happy to come back and play music. I have loads of friends there, mostly in Queensland. I also do a mean Alf Stewart (from Home and Away) impersonation. I’m probably the only one that thinks that though!!