Doom-folk lifer Larkin Grimm is known mostly for 2008’s desolate, pastoral daymare Parplar and her colorfully wry outlook (her hilarious MySpace post about attending SXSW in 2009 is required reading). The last four years have been nothing short of monumental for Grimm; she moved to Spanish Harlem, left her record label, married fire-breathing art-star Master Lee and gave birth to her first child. And if “Paradise and So Many Colors” is any indication, her new album Soul Retrieval (due in February) is naturally optimistic and lush, fueled by the sunny mutations of exotica. Starring members of Vetiver and Extra Life, as well as Jesse Sparhawk on harp and Bowie producer Tony Visconti behind the boards and on bass, “Paradise” is a manic slice of shiny textures (er, so many colors) and euphoric background coos, all backed by an Yma Sumac-inspired rhythm that pulses with electricity.
What is “Paradise and So Many Colors” about?
This song is about the sense of wonder and how it comes and goes.
What inspired it musically?
A trip to Guatemala, walking out into the jungle at night, listening to the loudest, wildest chorus of insects, birds, frogs and monkeys I had ever heard. Also listening to Yma Sumac’s Legend of the Sun Virgin and watching Disney’s Snow White.
What inspired it lyrically?
A broken heart, a plant ceremony with Peruvian tea, the process of coming back down to earth after seeing beautiful visions.
How was recording this album different than Parplar?
It was a more cohesive, singular vision. And Tony Visconti, rock and roll legend, was there cheering us on and organizing sound explosions. We recorded the whole thing in about 48 hours to save money, so the band recorded all together at once, live recording to tape instead of overdubbing like most modern bands do. A few little things were added later while I was mixing with Bryce Goggin, who does Antony’s records, but the process was very simple, and stayed analog all the way to the mastering studio. I am amazed at how lush the final result sounds… And you wouldn’t believe how cheap it was to make such a beautiful record. My anti-depression recession record. I did the whole thing on $5,000.
How has starting a family affected your music?
When I was pregnant, all I could listen to was Erik Satie and Chopin. Everything else made me nauseated. It was awful! Now that I have a little boy, I want to rock out harder! I’ve also probably become a little more compassionate towards all humans. Some of my favorite mom rockers are Patti Smith, Bjork, Yoko, and Karin Andersson from Fever Ray and The Knife. Motherhood is mind blowing and takes you to another level of understanding. I’m so glad I decided to go for it. My little boy Otis is so sweet and he loves when I play music. I never feel like he is holding me back. He is joining me on the great big adventure that is life and it is such a pleasure to live with him and his magical father, street performer Master Lee.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve played in NYC?
Le Poisson Rouge with Rasputina. The crowd was huge but it felt intimate. I felt like a rock star for the first time ever, even though I was the opening act. The sound engineers made my band sound huge, psychedelic, super pro. I was also really feeling at home. This is my city. It was one of those rare moments when New York loves you back.
What’s your favorite place to eat in New York?
I live in Harlem, so I have to say Red Rooster. There is such a strong sense of community pride in that restaurant. It has a congenial bar where you can meet Black artists and Swedish tourists, an intriguing mix. I always get a spicy lady: a gin cocktail with jalapeño and grapefruit. And you’ve got an African guy cooking you Swedish meatballs and fried chicken. I really dig that. Plus Marcus Samuelsson, the owner, is totally hot.