Photography by Ryan Shorosky
Fashion by Julia Ehrlich
If you’ve followed Say Lou Lou’s career, you’ll understand why they’re okay with calling their new record, Immortelle, a comeback.
The duo, Swedish-Australian twins Elektra and Miranda Kilbey-Jansson, debuted in 2012 and released their first album, Lucid Dreaming, in 2015. Lucid Dreaming is a solid record of dream-pop that found an audience with the fashion set, but Immortelle is the next level: It feels cohesive and powerful and emotionally vast, yet still very, very chic.
Some of that creative growth can be traced to parting ways with their past ties in the industry and striking out to make a fully independent record.
“We needed to take some time,” Miranda says over the phone from Malibu, the breaking waves audible in the background. “It felt really hard to be in control of what we were doing. I think taking a step back, and it just being the two of us alone without anyone else was really necessary. ‘Why are we doing this? How do you want to live? And can we create an environment where we’re being ourselves, and the music is a reflection of us?’ That’s what took time to create the right environment.”
Featuring a full slate of songs like “Ana,” which taps into the same trip-hop veins of the Sneaker Pimps or Massive Attack; “All Love to Me,” a triumphantly arranged groover; “Limbo,” a song inspired by perfume ads from the’80s (they’ve even produced a perfume for the album that uses immortelle, or oil of chrysanthemum, as its base); and “Phantom,” which swings seductively into lost-Bond-theme territory, Immortelle was made while holed up in a nest-like studio in Laurel Canyon, the famed L.A. mountain pass that birthed the likes of the Doors and the Mamas & the Papas.
“[We entered this] little vortex bubble,” says Miranda, the more talkative of the two sisters. “It was two producers [Trent Mazur and Dash Le Francis] that we worked with’s home studio. We’d just go there every morning, or we’d stay over. We moved in a pack for a year. And now all of us have moved in together in this big house in Beachwood, where we have a studio.”
In that bubble, the Kilbey-Janssons felt comfortable enough to confront certain matters that have dogged them since the start—namely, the fact that dad is Steve Kilbey of the legendary Australian neo-psychedelic pop group, The Church, and mom is Karin Jansson of punk group Pink Champagne. Together Kilbey and Jansson wrote The Church’s “Under the Milky Way,” one of the most enduring pop songs from the 1980s. Say Lou Lou’s own luscious version is a centerpiece of the record.
“Yeah, [covering ‘Under the Milky Way’] was a huge decision,” Elektra says, her voice just a touch higher than Miranda’s. “It’s not that we’re ‘haunted’ by it somehow, but when you’re trying to find your own way as a young creative and you’re constantly reminded about what your parents have done, it’s a little bit frustrating. But when we were working on this record, this song came up, and we started playing around with it. It felt like we were making peace with it. Our parents wrote it when they were very much in love, just a couple years before we were born, so it’s an ode to our family.”
Miranda agrees, and adds that Immortelle, as a whole, is about meeting challenges.
“I think that’s been the story about the whole album and the whole process and how we’ve done it,” she says. “Elektra and I feel like we have the confidence now and the tools to run this whole show ourselves, more or less, with the help of a bunch of amazing people, of course, but I think we just feel like we can do it on our own, and be in control of the process, and be in control of everything that happens.”
FROM LEFT ELEKTRA WEARS SHIRT TELFAR, SKIRT VERSACE, EARRING DIOR. MIRANDA WEARS DRESS VERSACE, BOOTS GIUSEPPE ZANOTTI
Makeup: Charlotte Prevel
Hair: Vernon Francois
Photo Assistant: Julian Berman
Stylist Assistant: Grace Lynch
Makeup Assistant: Keely Maroney
Production Coordinator: Tim Oliver