Lecx Stacy brings a one-of-a-kind style to everything he touches. From his debut album in 2019, Face Plants, to working on Jean Dawson’s Bad Sports that very same year, to just last month when he shared his EP Held My Gaze, there is nothing that quite sounds like what he is making. The six track project is not only the epitome of his expansive production techniques, but also a step into his mind over the last year since the release of his sophomore album, Bundok. Nearly a month after the release of the EP, I sat down with Lecx to discuss his creative process, working through COVID-19, and being a first generation American.
It feels good. I guess it's kind of funny, because it's only been a month and I'm already starting the next project and the stuff that comes post this EP. It feels good, but it's weird because now that I'm starting the next project, I'm feeling a different type of energy high. After every project, it's always scary to think like, "Oh, am I gonna be able to create something new? I've just exhausted all this creative energy." It's always daunting finishing a project and then trying to go into the next thing. This actually happened with that ep. I think I spent a whole year where I could not make anything that I liked. And the first song that I created for Held My Gaze was "Took My Time" and it was literally a year after putting out the project before, Bundok. I basically had a whole year dry spell where I could not make anything that sounded good, and then one day I was just jamming some acoustic guitar stuff and created "Took My Time."
Weirdly, I'm having more fun I think. I think having these last two projects out that I'm really proud of makes me feel like I should be more nervous to start a new project. But if anything I'm actually more comfortable exploring stuff, and very open to collaborating more with people. The last few projects, or at least all my projects have been very insular and made in solitude, and so I feel like with these new songs I'm working on, I really wanna try to branch out and see what happens when I get into rooms with other people rather than just be in my bedroom alone.
It's kind of funny because we did not coordinate that in any way, it just kind of happened. I remember one of the singles dropped, I think within the same two weeks, and weirdly there were certain sonic parallels, which maybe is a testament to the sort of reason why we started making music together in the first place. Maybe innately we have a very similar palette and outlook towards creative expression. If anything it was comforting to see that and cool to weirdly have this synced up rollout thing.
Yeah. And it's cool to see people naturally, on just social media, pick up on it because obviously it was not planned or anything, but it was cool to see people hyped that both things were dropping within the same timeframe. Kind of wholesome type shit.
I guess every project could be a blessing and curse type thing, but since I have a very wide palette of sounds that I wanna explore, I'm always in my head thinking about, “Oh, this project needs to have the folk song that feels grounded in very natural instruments, and I also need to include the hardcore influences.” So it naturally creates this wide ranging sound palette.
I guess my main way I look at projects a lot of time, at least for my own projects, is I like creating this collage of different elements. I think certain times I'm like, “Damn, I should probably hone it down to one thing.” But for some reason I'm always like, “It needs to expand into these different pockets.” But that's kind of how I think about projects a lot for some reason.
So I started that one with a friend named Elliot, and that was a random session that we had. I had no intention of working on my EP with him, it was one of those sessions where managers think that we're a good fit to work together, so we got in together and just talked for two hours and then decided that we should just jam. And around that time period, I was getting deeper into new metal shoegaze type stuff, like Deftones and Loathe. So that was what was in my head at the time.
We started off weirdly on that song — how it started was the last 15 seconds of that song where it's got these droney chords. That's what we started off with and we were going that direction, but then during that session, he had a bunch of guitar pedals laid out on his table and I asked him if we could just run a bunch of weird ideas through the guitar pedals. I had this melody that we recorded during that time, just this singing melody that had no words.It was just mumble shit. Just to get a melody laid, we ran it through this pedal and that created the opening of the song where it's just this vocal sample chopped up thing. As soon as I heard that, I was like, “Oh shit, I just need to take this little bit home and just expand on it.” We added a few things, he added those really distorted 808 things, but it got to a point where it was like, “Alright, I think I created a good toolbox out of this session,” and then took it home and pretty much created the harsh track that it is now, but it weirdly started with just that last 15 seconds. The last 15 seconds of the song was probably what Elliot was expecting the song to fully sound like, but then I created the rest of it.
Yeah, because I think that was the last song that I put on the project and I was feeling like the project needed something just for my gratification of hearing something a lot harsher on the project. Everything else is a lot slower and melodic and I needed something that steered away from having a baseline or anything. It just needed to be screaming.
There’s this band called Loathe, who I've been really into lately, and their album I Let It In and It Took Everything also has a wide range of sounds. It's all kind of in the realm of shoegaze and hardcore and new metal, but it has some songs that are very slow and stripped back, and then it also has songs that have fucking blast beats and are just screening at 200 BPM. So that album and that band has influenced me a lot in the past year or so. Also in the same vein, while that band has influenced me a lot, people like Phil Elverum and The Microphones, and now Mount Eerie also have influenced me just as much. So that's where the more folk-y elements come in. I feel like I've been trying to blend this weird mesh of like new metal, hardcore and folk.
So “Wished Well” and “Take My Time” were obviously very folk driven and I think I made “Wished Well” right after having COVID and so after the two week quarantine where I couldn’t do shit obviously, I was very sad and just wanted to express that in some way. So “Wished Well” is very introspective and a sad perspective on life a bit because I feel like I'm getting older, even though I'm not that old, but ruminating on the way adult friendships are very different from high school friendships, and that's sounds dumb to say out loud, but I think that that's sort of what that song is about. It’s like maturing and realizing people go their own way. It's just me discovering empathy type beat.
For sure. Which is weird though, because most of my songs are made in solitude, but for some reason, being in solitude plus having COVID and literally being stagnant for two weeks and asleep 75% of the time created “Wished Well.” It’s funny because I actually made “Wished Well” and like “Haunted Be Thy” around the same time, post having COVID. All the screaming on “Haunted Be Thy” I made right after getting out of quarantine, so I recorded the screaming on that second chorus while still having this semi sore throat from Covid. And I feel like part of the desperation and emotion in that is probably from the stagnant living in my shitty apartment.
Yeah. Which probably was not the best idea, because I do remember recording that and being like, “Damn, this shit kinda hurts.” But I couldn't go another day being stagnant. I had to do something. So, and then that was like, what was fresh on my mind. Wish. Well, and, and recording the, the screening vocals on, on how to be that.
I think “Took My Time” was a really fun one exploring, production wise, because I feel like I'm always also trying to tap into the midwest emo riff space and having gang vocals involved and all of that. Also, I deliberately did not add any drums or anything, even though on the chorus I almost feel like it should have some really big percussive elements. Every time I would show people that song pre-release they would always make a comment about how, how interesting it is that “Took My Time” has such a percussive chorus, but it's all coming from the acoustic guitar strumming and there's no drum, not even a tambourine or anything. And yeah that always was interesting to me when I think about it because I love experimenting with drums, but I just deliberately was like, “Alright, I'm gonna challenge myself and not do any drums. Let just the natural instruments, the guitar and bass, do their thing.”
Yeah, I think when I first came up with the title Held My Gaze I was thinking about the theme of rumination. One aspect of creating and living in solitude a lot is the room to ruminate and hyper fixate on a lot of things, one being adult relationships and friendships and that kind of thing. Then also “Took My Time” is about ruminating on how to express my emotions to a partner so from the beginning to the end of the project it’s pretty much an overall thing, the hyper fixating and ruminating on either issues that I have, personally or interpersonal relationship with people, whether it’s good or bad. I think when I listen back to the project, I feel pretty comfortable that I expressed that in a pretty decent way, or that I pretty much accomplished the overall theme that I wanted to.
Yeah, so the song in particular is very much about this overwhelming, not fear, but fixation on how I'm perceived as an artist. I feel like as an entertainer, I always have to think about how I'm supposed to pose in my fucking Instagram photos or what photo is gonna get me the most likes or whatever the fuck. So the song is diving into that and the pressures of knowing that one of the main ways that I can become successful is having to curate this entire image that is accessible and sought after by audiences. I feel like the video taps into that a little bit, it's a little bit more obscured, but the way I look at it, it weirdly has this continuation from the previous project because Bundok was coming from a first generation child experience, a first generation American and the generational trauma that one has to hold by being the only American born in a family that's coming from the Philippines. And weirdly the video feels like it's a continuation of that, where it's just this character that's dropped into a foreign environment and chasing acceptance and running after something. In the end it still feels alienated, in that last minute of the video. It's just feeling doomed in some way. And the monologue that speaks over that part is my dad, speaking to me in our native tongue. He's pretty much telling me the importance of my name and the importance of my being and trying to instill in me this hope that I won't always feel alienated and I won't always feel the pressure, and that being who I am is good enough.
I guess I do find a struggle just in the sense that it's always something that I'm thinking about and I do have to play a certain role as an artist in this world. But it's just more of a looming pressure that this idea for this character is something that is marketable as an artist. It's just the fucked up reality of being an artist. As an entertainer, you also have to be marketable and you also have to be likable to some capacity and there has to be something that is attractive to people. I try not to think about it too much, but my song “Haunted Be Thy” is pretty much a version of me ruminating on that and stressing too hard. But yeah, it is just trying to find the balance of how much to actually care about it without stressing about it. It's a very weird nuanced thing.
Let me think. I get asked this often and I'm always stunned in a weird way. My top priority is being able to express these ideas in hopes that it's received by people and that people can relate to it and that people can enjoy it. But I guess I'm always on this ongoing quest to uncover what exactly I want out of this, which I feel like might be reflected in some of the music where it's very scattered.
My favorite will always be My Chemical Romance, which I'm actually about to see tonight. I've been listening to the last Alex G project, which I love. I've been getting into Eartheater stuff recently and the project Phoenix. I've been listening to a lot of Arca’s self-titled, which might be in my top five albums of all time.
Yeah. And then JPEGMAFIA’s project titled LP and that’s probably in my top five. And also Loathe who I mentioned earlier. Yeah, that's the world of what I've been listening to lately.