Novo Amor: About Birthplace, His Identities, and Upcoming Album
Novo Amor is a name that frequently emerged on the past few years when we talk about rising folk acts. The Welsh singer/songwriter managed to debut with a magnificent EP “Woodgate, NY”. A following duet project and another EP lamented his name as top promising acts that came out from the UK. His beautiful and serene music captivated many fans and the shy and mysterious Novo Amor got more on his table to offer.
Recently, he has released a single and music video for “Birthplace” that will be included in his upcoming full length solo album. The musicians whose real name is Ali John Meredith-Lacey talked about the sounds and ambience he captured from his apartment back in Wales. The accompanying music video for “Birthplace” directed by Sil and Jorik is an homage to a tragedy that happened in Thailand when a whale died after consuming tons of plastic waste from humans. We sat down with Ali to talk about this new single and video, his intertwining identity as Novo Amor as well as his upcoming album.
The Display (TDP) : Hello Ali, first of all we’d like to say that we were in awe after watching your performance in Indonesia earlier this year! (he performed on 8th Music Gallery in Jakarta earlier this year – red)
Novo Amor (NA) : Thank you! It was a privilege to perform for the people of Jakarta and to be accepted with such a warm welcome.
TDP: So, let’s get down to business. We watched your video for “Birthplace” and it evoked a sadness as well as a sense of guilt inside of us. What are you trying to convey with this video?
NA: Simply put, we’re trying to highlight the importance of the video’s topic: plastic pollution in our oceans. We’re hoping that, at the very least, the video will make people think about their personal relationships with plastic and the harm that’s being done. The man in the video represents humanity, as well as ocean life. The video opens with him co-existing with ocean life, but he eventually becomes trapped and absorbed by plastic waste, depicted by him being swallowed by a 13-meter whale made from plastic. The directors Sil and Jorik created the whole concept for the video.
TDP: It was shot on Komodo Island, Indonesia and the plastic whale will later be built into a permanent installation. Are you planning to do a showcase there once the project is finished?
NA : I would love to visit the whale, but have no current plans to do so. I may take a personal trip there.
TDP: You worked with Sil and Jorik to direct your music videos, how is their visions match with yours? Was the idea first come from you, then they executed it or was it the other way around?
NA: This idea and the previous video idea (Terraform) were both 100% from Sil and Jorik; I’m just happy to be able to facilitate their vision, and I think our visions naturally match to some extent. For example, the plastic pollution topic was on my mind as a video idea, but I had no intentions of pushing it on a director. I’d rather a video director works to their own vision.
TDP: “Birthplace” as a song talks about your origin whether from its lyrical part or sounds. How do you instill your surroundings into your music? Did you record few audio samples from your closest environment?
NA: Instilling your environment into music can be a really great way of bringing it to life, for example recording things with the window open, adding percussion made from things on the desk in font of you etc. Birthplace has some percussion that is just a fork tapping on a plate that was left on my desk. Some other tracks on my album include the sounds of the neighbours having a party, the fireworks from Guy Fawkes Night (you likely don’t have that in Indonesia) and pitched-down voices from a personal iChat video from 2012. These things are very subtle in the recordings, and are maybe just there for me to recognise and know that they’re included.
TDP: Your upcoming album will be released this year, what we could expect from it?
NA: Two tracks have been released so far: ‘State Lines’ and ‘Birthplace’. Though these songs give you an idea of what to expect, I think all ten tracks are fairly incomparable. The album feels more positive than anything I’ve made before, with much more fanfare and celebratory moments throughout.
TDP: Now on to a more general questions about you, you said that the persona of ‘Novo Amor’ is like ‘emigrating’ from yourself in a way’. What is the difference from Ali Lacey and Novo Amor?
NA: The line is thin and blurry. I’ve slowly become absorbed by Novo Amor in the past five years.
I’ve always been a very ambitious person and I think a lot of ambitious people value themselves by their output. Over a summer Novo Amor very quickly became that sole output for me, a creative release aimed at trying to change my own life. I recently took a break from trying to make anything new and I realised that it was the first time in 13 years that I didn’t have a song or something in production. It scared me and now I can’t wait to grow and move on with new ideas.
Novo Amor has ruined personal relationships, made myself and others I care about miss important events in our lives, but alongside that given me something worthwhile to really care about and nourish.
So, to answer the question – I find it hard not to recognise the privilege and opportunity that Novo Amor has given me personally, and I think that recognition also now comes with a responsibility to create to my best ability and collaborate with people like Sil and Jorik.
These days there’s little separation between the music and myself. I live in my studio and own more guitars than pairs of trousers.
I find it hard not to recognise the privilege and opportunity that Novo Amor has given me personally, and I think that recognition also now comes with a responsibility to create to my best ability
TDP: Our readers have been wondering about this, who or what got you into the music you are making today?
NA: It’s varied. Certain artists have inspired certain aspects of my music. The finger-picking styles and slide guitar of classic American folk artists – as well as more modern players such as Sufjan Stevens and The Tallest Man on Earth – have played a big part in my guitar playing. I found my love of playing through rock music; the heaviness and intensity of this style really stuck to me. I think some of this comes across in my music, mainly in the crescendos and distorted guitars, which I love. Soft and high male voices were a really big thing for me back in 2011, such as the voices of James Vincent McMorrow, Keaton Henson, Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver -red), Sufjan, Rhye etc.
TDP: Lastly, each of your song or video speaks about events, or rather we say tragic events that happened or are happening to humanity. What do you expect from the listeners after enjoying your record?
NA: The songs don’t speak about tragic events happening to humanity. Loosely put, some are based on stories I’ve heard, some are based on personal relationships, reminiscing about my past, celebrating my present and places I’ve been.
I think people will like the record. In a way it feels a bit different from lots of my previous music, but I think the core reasons that people enjoy my music are still visible… or maybe not. Who knows?!