When considering the sub-genre, a fundamental feeling conjured by lo-fi is a sense of tenderness. While music within the genre relies upon its own conventions surrounding presentation, it’s also regularly prone to rejecting artifice, expressing vulnerability by way of avoidance, or opting for subtlety in lieu of overwhelming production. While that’s what comes to me here, maybe this is a mischaracterization of the music on Huxley Madeline’s full-length album, Me from Myself and Seeing a Light. All the same, it’s not without its tender and vulnerable moments, regardless of whatever labels are used to describe it.
As a solo musician, the album is hardly out of place among its predecessors, but it also provides an interesting contrast to some of the musician’s other outlets (perhaps most notably GOLDBLUMS, which was once described as a group of “Des Moines area shapeshifting reptilian overlords”). What remains is an interesting conceptual crossroads, reconciling song titles such as “I Saw God Smoking Crack in an Electric Chair” with lyrics and sounds that evoke and inspire gentle contemplation. In this discussion Huxley shared some thoughts speaking to the album’s lyrical intent, while also exploring one of its most personally impactful lyrics, among other topics. For more from Huxley, follow their work via Instagram, or listen to Me from Myself and Seeing a Light on Bandcamp.
villin: Lyrically, there is a “you,” or an external person, who you’re singing at or to throughout the album. As relationships change, so too changes the image of someone in our minds, so even if the person remains the same, who they are to us changes… I’m not sure if this will make sense, but does the “you” remain consistent through these songs? Who are the “you”s you’re singing to here?
Huxley Madeline: There are certainly specific individuals in my life that I refer to in these songs but I often choose to keep their identities private, sometimes even to them, for personal reasons. The notion of the changing “you” definitely came into effect while working on this record, too, with shifting dynamics of real life relationships. Some songs got scrapped due to this, where others remained the same, but I now see them through an entirely different context. I try to keep what I write up to interpretation as best as I can, but those close to me can sometimes peel back the layers and tell what the specifics are.
villin: “Ampersand” bears a strong appeal poetically, and to me it conjures mental images of ascension (to nowhere in particular), a warm glow fading into nothingness. Are there any lyrics that came out of you through writing this album that surprised you, or felt particularly heavy after you’d sat with them for a while?
Huxley Madeline: The lyric that stands out the most to me in the record is a very simplistic one. At the end of the third track there is a refrain of “I sneak out the room” and ever since I recorded that song that line has stuck with me. I am a generally very anxious person these days and that line, with the way it is in the context of the song, seems to sum up the simultaneously relief and despair that comes with leaving a social situation and being alone again.
villin: A lot of your past work finds you experimenting within an instrumental framework, removing lyrics or vocals from the picture. This album takes a different approach, but closes with the instrumental track “Headin’ To Ya.” What about closing the album with that song felt right?
Huxley Madeline: That track was one that I had recorded a few years ago that never found a home, and in the process of working on the record I had it at the end as a placeholder for a while but it ended up just sticking. I wanted the album to end on a positive note since a lot of the record deals with fairly heavy themes. I felt like ending with an instrumental track — that in it’s essence is about texting someone that you’re on your way to them — was a good way to give that levity and leaves things in a place that allows the sense of moving forward.
villin: In the past you’ve handed off mastering and that sort of thing to others, but for Me from Myself and Seeing a Light you recorded, mixed, and mastered the album yourself. Was there a guiding reason to why you took a more insular approach to this release’s creation?
Huxley Madeline: I’ve always recorded and mixed my own records and in the past I was able to get them mastered on the cheap fairly easily. Really, the only thing that led me to mastering this one myself comes down to the price of the mastering being out of my budget. Hopefully the songs don’t suffer from this.
villin: Earlier this year you released the “Chaos on Court” / “Still Crazy After All These Years” split, with proceeds going to the Iowa Trans Mutual Aid Fund. Could you share a little about why that organization is important to you?
Huxley Madeline: There are many people in my life and community that I am close to and acquainted with in my life that are trans. An organization like the Iowa Trans Mutual Aid Fund is incredibly important in a state like Iowa, that is seemingly constantly making moves to dehumanize the trans community and take support away from them. Another organization that I believe is crucial to the community is Des Moines Mutual Aid, which provides services to the houseless community in Des Moines. In a world where people are often shunned and turned away for who they are, mutual aid is one of the best things we can do to keep people safe and keep our communities strong.