IN LOVING MEMORY TALK LATEST SINGLE “VIXEN” and NEW MUSIC
WRITTEN BY: MEG
In Loving Memory has quite a long history behind them. After their formation a few years back, the then four-piece released two EPs that were much in the post-hardcore realm, especially compared to their newer material. Most recently, the now two-piece have released a new single titled “Vixen,” showing off the band’s new sound and marking the beginning of a new era for them.
“Changing our sound has been an incredible gradual and subconscious process in many ways. Over the past year, we've just been finding ourselves less influenced by heavy music and getting into more pop, alternative, hip-hop, and electronic music. Some of our favorite artists lately, to name a few, have been Jon Bellion, Charlie Puth, The Aces, Zedd, Ariana Grande,” vocalist Naveed Stone says, “As those influences sunk in and came out in the new songs we were writing, something that became very apparent early on was that our new music really had no place for screaming vocals anymore. Screaming is also something I just stopped finding enjoyable, and the only time I ever scream is when we played our old music live. In that sense, a new musical direction was natural and unplanned.”
Following the departure of two of their now former members, Naveed and Tom worked harder than ever to figure out what the next step was going to be for the band and what they had to do to achieve that.
“It gave Tom and myself the opportunity to really step back and re-evaluate what we want In Loving Memory to be. I don't mean that just in a musical sense, but also in terms of our branding and our message we want to convey to the world. It is also in this context that I was taking a lot of influence from the great things mainstream artists are doing to progress culture and address social issues in the world today,” Naveed says about what the band aims to do with their upcoming material, “Our sociopolitical landscape is in such a delicate time right now, and I've been taking a lot of inspiration from today's leading voices in re-shaping the In Loving Memory brand. That's been a very conscious and liberating process, as I'm finally finding ways to sing and talk about the things I could never talk about in the world of heavy music. I think that is what makes me the most excited for the new music we have coming this year.”
Naveed has previously proudly described the new sound as “urban alternative,” at least for the new single, but there’s much more to it than just that label and there are so many new influences that the band haven’t incorporated before.
Yeah many people have raised an eyebrow at the "Urban-Alternative" label I declared. I think "Vixen" perfectly captures what we aim to achieve with that sound. The sound starts off with a chill indie rock/alternative groove that reminds me of Twenty One Pilots (Fun fact: I had the demo title "TOP Song" when I was writing it!) and then I come in with the first line "Girl you know you got me trippin' and it makes me feel some type of way". I definitely brought a lot of that urban pop/R&B influence in my vocals on the verses of that song, while the instrumentation is more in line than our alternative "band-centric" roots. I think when you compare this song to something like "Forthright" that starts off with a grandiose string/choir section with very deep and metaphorical vocals, the change in our sound becomes most apparent. As a lyricist, I can say that I've been taking a lot of influence from rappers and pop artists with very "on the nose" lyrics that are a little less metaphorical, and much more unapologetic about what they're about. To me, this is a big contrast from the lyricism found in rock/metal, which is more vague and open to the listener's interpretation. As I mentioned before, I think this approach allows me to tackle topics that I feel I couldn't before,” Naveed says, “On a musical side, I know Tom has been very much expanding his influences from a production standpoint. He's been buying a bunch of new plug-ins and experimenting with a lot of new sounds that we've never utilized before. This has paved the way for us to have our most sonically diverse collection of songs this time around. It's a perfect example of how ILM just being myself and Tom now has allowed us to breathe new life into the project. These days, a "band" doesn't have to be "a group of dudes playing drums/guitar/bass/vocals". We've learned to embrace that we're just guys making the music we want, and it's very nice not to jam guitar parts into a song because we feel obligated to. Stuff like that has hindered our creativity in the past, looking back.”
In addition to this single, the band have been working on plenty more new material to follow up this single and continue this new era of their career.
“As of now, we're knee-deep in recording new music! We've chosen to self-produce again this time around, as we feel that ILM is in a delicate situation where it needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. We think for that reason, it's best that we're the only ones who decide how that develops. All our recording is being done at Tom's home studio setup, and it feels great to just chill in his basement and hash out songs,” Naveed explains about the writing and recording process, “He and I have always been the primary writers in ILM, so our chemistry is laser-focused this time around. We literally have a system where he'll send me mixes and I'll list tweaks and edits to them in a Google Doc. So even when we're not working on the music together, we're still moving forward with the new songs. While we're not trying to rush ourselves, we're currently trying to pick up the pace with recording because, well hey, we want y'all to hear this stuff as soon as we can have everything ready!”
With things being quite different musically, there have been some changes in the band’s writing process with the new songs they’ve been working on.
“One change we wanted to make to our writing process very soon after Introspective released is that we wanted to write songs that are more centered around the vocals. By this, I mean that we wanted to structure and arrange the instrumentals based on the vocal ideas and lyrical direction of a song. In our older music, it wasn't uncommon for nearly-finished instrumentals to be brought to the table and then I'd have to write my vocals to fit the music that's in place. Sometimes this has limited me and boxed me in when writing lyrics, as I was constrained to instrumental sections we were already happy with,” Naveed reveals, “So this time around, it's not uncommon for me to say something like "Nah, we can't have this bridge be loud and epic, because I want to say something more mellow and somber here. We need the bridge to be less intense". So that's an example of the vocal/lyrical choices leading the way for the music to follow. I think this has allowed for the most honest and powerful songs to convey the messages I want to convey.”
”WE CAN’T PIGEON-HOLE OURSELVES TO WHAT WE KNOW ‘CAN WORK’ AND HAVW TO TAKE THE RISKS IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE SOMETHING NEW AND SPECIAL.”
“After making and releasing their previous EPs, the two of them learned a lot about making music that really came in handy when it was time to start working on more music.
“As I said before, I think we're learning how to write "songs" as opposed to "collections of riffs and parts". That said though, we still love Introspective as a whole and we think we really honed in on the "post hardcore" sound we wanted to achieve at the time. I think that if we wanted to continue in that direction, we could have done well,” Naveed says, “If anything, I think it's more of a risk to embark on such a new direction when we've spent 4 years developing our band within a certain scene. At the end of the day though, we've learned that we can't pigeon-hole ourselves to what we know "can work" and have to take the risks in order to achieve something new and special. That's what we hope to achieve this time around.”
”Vixen” is definitely a bit different from the band’s previous material, and that’s something you’ll hear a lot more of with the new songs the band has been writing.
“I'll say that ‘Vixen’ will not be on our next release. ‘Vixen’ is solely meant to be a transition between our old sound and where we are headed. We absolutely love the song for what it is, but I started writing the song about 2 years ago, before Introspective was even released. I feel like I would have written the song a bit differently if we were to have started writing it this past year,” Naveed reveals about “Vixen” and the upcoming material, “The new songs definitely cover some musical ground that I never would have guessed ILM would explore if you asked me a year ago. While there's still some ‘band-centric’ songs that are driven by drums and guitars, there are some songs driven primarily by heavy electronic/pop/hip hop beats and production. There's a song that's mainly piano driven, and there’s even a song where I'm straight up rapping! A common phrase of mine as we've been solidifying our new ideas is ‘Wow, I can't believe this is my band.’”
As far as lyrical content goes, the band’s previously released EPs have discussed a wide variety of topics, something they certainly plan to continue doing with the new material they’ve been working on.
“What I love about these new songs is that I've injected a lot of my direct and personal perspective into the lyrics, whereas in the past I had a tendency to keep my lyrics a little more vague so that the listener could relate to them more easily. On one song I lend my take on modern hookup/dating culture based on my own experiences, and it lends for some much more intense lyrics than when I typically write romantic songs, even with ‘Vixen,’” he says, “I've written songs about following your dreams and the overall "hustle", but this time around I give context as to where I'm at in life. I talk about what it's like to chase an unconventional career path while my peers at my age are moving on with pursuing higher education and advancing in their own careers. I talk about how me chasing my dream has affected my relationships with friends and family.”
Out of all the topics discussed in the band’s lyrics, there’s one in particular that is important to Naveed personally - something the band has talked about in their music previously, and something they plan to talk about more in future songs.
“One thing that has always been important for me to talk about is my experience as a first-generation American. Being the song of Bangladeshi immigrants and growing up seeing all the working class immigrant communities that form the backbone of NYC, I view the world through such a unique lens and upbringing that I take so much pride in. That's absolutely something that's going to be felt more in our music and, outside of the music, the "Urban-Alternative" brand,” Naveed says, “This is a topic I've tried to tackle in the past with our song "Nomad", but as I mentioned, the lyrics are so vague that I doubt anyone would pick up on what the song is about unless they watched our live music video for it where I talk about it. Looking back, I didn't have the courage to talk about it. But now, I'm super confident and proud of my identity, and I hope to do our narrative justice on behalf of all the immigrant demographics that are stigmatized in this country.”
In the summer of 2018, Naveed and Tom traveled across North America for the final cross-country run of Vans Warped Tour, and the experience had a major impact on the band’s career.
“To sum it up, it was the wildest experience of our lives. We look back on it and laugh because of how surreal it was. We invested thousands of dollars in Introspective CDs, ILM stringbags, and sunglasses. I quit my job. We drove 5 days from NYC to California to start the Warped Tour with NO idea how we were going to get in every day to promote. It was the biggest "yolo" ever. Our goal was to promote at every single Warped Tour date and get as many new listeners as possible,” Naveed says about the experience, “Throwing ourselves at so many strangers daily while living out of our van and in obscenely hot weather on a daily basis was definitely brutal sometimes, but honestly, we owe SO much to our amazing fans and supporters. We were shocked with how many people reached out to us and opened their homes to us to spend the night, rest, and shower, and other people brought us food for the road when they met us, or donated money for gas. It's also super rewarding to see new listeners stick with us and tell us how thankful they are that we came up to them at Warped Tour to show them our music. We really learned what it meant to sacrifice and fight for what we want.”
Some of the major rewards from the experience were not only gaining many new fans and listeners throughout the summer, but also meeting some of their longtime fans in person for the first time.
“We met so many of our supporters who we've built great relationships with online. It was so special to finally turn DMs and messages into face-to-face conversations. It made our band feel very "real". Obviously we haven't toured much. Hell, I saw most of the country for the first time this summer! To go out there and see even a few people passionate about our band all over the country is what kept us fighting all summer,” Naveed adds, “[Warped] was definitely an experience that tested us mentally and physically, but once again, I have to say that our fans really made the whole endeavor a lot easier for us with all their help. The In Loving Family came through for us and we're so grateful.”
Since then, the band’s fanbase has continued to grow, and has only gotten more and more dedicated over time.
“I'll be completely honest. Not a day goes by where I don't contemplate giving up on music. It's so taxing mentally to judge my self-worth by the success of my band, and on days where it doesn't feel like the band is doing well, it becomes very hard to stay strong, but to see the level of dedication and passion some people have for our band is truly what keeps me going in those dark moments,” Naveed says about the support In Loving Memory has gotten over the years, “There’s just so much to say about the In Loving Family. To be able to say that we're still such a small band, yet we have more and more people getting ILM tattoos, and have a few people that have even flown across the country to see us perform, is truly wild. I think what's most compelling is seeing what our community has evolved into and how close our fans have become with each other, without our doing. Our biggest supporters have group chats with each other, have traveled just to hang out with each other, and have really evolved into a tight-knit community. That's something I can honestly say I have not seen from any band among our peers. Seeing people from all walks of life forge such deep friendships with In Loving Memory as the foundation of that really makes me feel like we can build a platform that unites people far and wide.”
With In Loving Memory beginning a new chapter in their career as a band, what’s coming up next?
“Expect much more new music this year. Expect an entirely different live show. Expect bigger and better music videos. Expect more honesty and vulnerability from everything we do because I'm fed up playing it safe,” Naveed hints, “I'm going to succeed in manifesting a vision that is new and unique, or fall flat on my face. Even if I do fall flat, I know I can count on the In Loving Family to pick me back up.”
FOLLOW IN LOVING MEMORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA HERE:
IN LOVING MEMORY’S LATEST SINGLE, “VIXEN,” IS AVAILABLE NOW. LISTEN TO IT HERE: