On traveling, and The Little Mermaid in L.A.
“My Father always told me, how important traveling is,” says LUI HILL. “It helps you understand how beautiful and varied this world is, and its occupants and cultures. It helps you stay flexible and open-minded, and to get a different, more focused view about what we have and what we lack.”
Such an outlook won’t come as a surprise to anyone listening to HILL’s debut album: ideas of movement and distance are red threads running throughout. Even the title of his first single, 5000 Miles, conveys this. In fact, journeys of multiple kinds lie at its very heart.
The videos for the until now released four singles, (“5000 Miles“, “5000 Miles (Fye & Fennek Remix)” and “Revolver“, “Words Become Useless” as well as the current, “Ancient Dust” take their audience on a journey- to Los Angeles and perhaps also to childhood as they offer an adaptation of the original ‘The Little Mermaid’ from Hans Christian Andersen. Filmed at night, in the darkest corners of L.A., the mini-series addresses an overlapping of desire, violence- and distance.
“The Little Mermaid is a dreamer, she breaks out. She loved someone and had a dream and went for it, even if it seemed impossible. It’s not unlike the mythology around Los Angeles- the place where dreamers go and sometimes get their hearts broken. The story reminds us that even after failure and heartbreak, there are no real endings. We always begin again.”
HILL’s musical journey began at a youthful age, encouraged by his mother, who played violin, piano and accordion, and was never shy of sharing her enthusiasms, whether for The Beatles or Bach. By the age of 12, he was fronting a punk band, and a brother who was eight years older helped expand his horizons, exposing HILL to funk, blues and jazz. His brother also helped supply the most treasured cultural experience of HILL’s childhood: the night they went to see the original, ‘Gangster of Love,’ Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, and HILL, who was just 14, was invited to sing with his hero. A couple of years later, however, he picked up drumsticks for the first time.
Though music still competed with both his painting and love for skateboarding – even now, that’s his preferred mode of transport when exploring new cities – drums became the focus of his music university studies. To this day, they remain an important part of the LUI HILL musical experience: at concerts, he still plays while he sings.
As he developed his skills with other instruments, HILL began to write. It is, however, perhaps unsurprising, given his habits, that his debut album only began to take shape while he was travelling. He’d headed to South Africa after being caught in the grip of a lengthy period of misfortune, helpless as a long-term relationship fell apart, and still crippled by disappointment after a record deal had swiftly turned sour, the initial shock of which had left him temporarily, but quite literally, deaf. Furthermore, his father – the one to whom he owed so much of his perspective on life, a strong character always at the heart of the family – had passed away, almost inexplicably, not long before. All it had taken was a wasp sting.
Reason enough for HILL to place his compass in direction of South Africa.
“My first wish was to clear the table of difficulties with a plane-ticket, and head for new surroundings,” HILL admits. “When you do that, you escape your toxic environment, and this helps you start to breathe again.” Nonetheless, the poignant nature of 5000 MILES derives from the fact that HILL isn’t, by nature, so naïve as to believe you can leave your difficulties behind. “Problems follow you, no matter what random and remote places you’re walking around,” he continues. “I don’t agree that people who travel are running away from themselves. I think it helps you to get to know yourself better. Create distance, and you get closer to the core of things.”
In a pleasing twist of fate, South Africa not only inspired his album, but paved the way to enabling its release. In Cape Town, HILL met Tobias Herder of Filter Music Group, who was out there to sign another act. Herder, who discovered Milky Chance, instead returned to Germany with the signature of HILL.
Now the debut album, ‚Lui Hill’ is ready for release. It’s worth it, to discover HILLs world while keeping him company on his album for 44 minutes. The journey, as his father told him, is one you can always learn from.