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SG Lewis on his new album 'AudioLust & Higher Love'


At once love can be selfish and selfless. And musician SG Lewis explores these two magnetic poles in his new album, "AudioLust & HigherLove." Its electronic vibe reveals a spectrum of love sensations.


SG LEWIS: (Singing) All my tears waterfall.

RASCOE: Artist SG Lewis joins us now from Los Angeles. Welcome to the show.

LEWIS: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

RASCOE: So, I mean, this album - it is ambitious. It's 15 songs, more than an hour long, and it's divided into two parts, right? Like, can you talk about the structure, and, like, how this idea came to you?

LEWIS: So I started work on this album pretty much immediately after finishing my first album, and I found myself in - sort of in the middle of the pandemic with not a lot of other things going on. So it was definitely kind of a period of sort of forced introspection in a way. And also, as I started to write about my experiences, that they could kind of be categorized into one of these two sort of mindsets, this kind of - the first being this rushy (ph), infatuated, kind of slightly toxic approach to love and relationships, and then the second being this kind of more fulfilled, actualized, longer-lasting version of, I guess, what we would call real love.


LEWIS: (Singing) You never struck me as the type. Thought I played my cards right, but I didn't pick up on a tell, although I thought I knew you well, oh. I guess you never see the signs...

RASCOE: You know, one of the songs that, like, immediately jumped out to me was "Oh Laura." And to me, it was sounding like a breakup song or like a get away from me song and never talk to me again.

LEWIS: There's sort of many songs that are sort of very personal to me on the album, but it's really looking outward and it's writing sort of about someone else's situation. It's basically the moment of realization or the moment that you find out that someone has sort of been unfaithful to you and kind of that sort of space in between the moment where the other person realizes they've been found out.


LEWIS: (Singing) Oh, darling, I'm cutting you off.

It's kind of that, like - holding that knowledge, and it's kind of processing that information and the feelings that kind of come with that realization of a betrayal.

RASCOE: So, I mean, I picked up on some - to me it felt like some, like, '80s, '90s, like, house hip hop influences in your song "Vibe Like This."


LEWIS: (Singing) Been around the world, I did, and I never felt a vibe like this - never felt a vibe like this. Might be worth the risk to make up for...

RASCOE: What led you to this, like, distinct sound? Like, were you trying to go for that kind of, like, '80s vibe?

LEWIS: I have a group of friends, and we all kind of typically trade records, but usually they're club records. So a lot of us are DJs and stuff, and we would share records that we found. So in the middle of the pandemic, without the context of clubbing and live music, the sort of - the context for those records sort of disappeared. So we found that the records we started sharing were kind of - we did, like, a very different kind of digging, sort of old '80s yacht rock that - you know, records that may have been big at some point, but we were all kind of born after that era.

So for us, it was like discovering this kind of new music when it wasn't new at all, you know? So then some of the musicianship is so incredible, like the instrumentation and stuff. So all the artists that ended up on the record were sort of very intentional, and there was - they sort of really embraced the concept, and yeah, it just - it was really cool to see those artists sort of resonate with that concept.


RASCOE: You got your start in music as a DJ in Liverpool's club scene, and I mean, I understand that you still use many of those kind of old school DJing techniques when making music today. Do you feel like something is lost in the way that DJs work now?

LEWIS: Well, the problem is when anything becomes super profitable, then it's kind of - it's become about, you know, getting people in the door and selling tickets. And at that point, the music can become compromised. But I think that the more truth that you live in your music, the more it resonates anyway because people in general have an amazing sort of subconscious sense of when something is genuine. As humans, we're very finely tuned to feel it in music, so the truth will always sort of win in music eventually.


LEWIS: (Singing) There's something about your love. There's something about it. There's something about your love. There's something about it.

RASCOE: So one of the last songs on your album is called "Something About Your Love." Have you learned what this something is? Have you found some answers?

LEWIS: I think that "Something About Your Love" is really just a song that's - it's expressing that initial bewilderment at that feeling, and, you know, that new feeling when something is novel and, you know, that feeling is exciting. I think that that's kind of - you know, it takes time to figure out what it is. But yeah, I'd like to think that I've found a few answers.


LEWIS: (Singing) Can't find any words. Couldn't tell you what makes it perfect.

RASCOE: Singer-songwriter SG Lewis has a new album out, "AudioLust & HigherLove." Thank you so much for joining us.

LEWIS: Thank you so much. Thanks for the great chat. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.