This is Lorelei | To Exist in the Abstract Forever with ‘Box for Buddy, Box for Star’

“Debut” Album from Water From Your Eyes’ Nate Amos

Written by

Bree Castillo

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Photographed by Eve Alpert

Perhaps the notion of time is a trivial way for us to cling to corporeal powers we were never meant to possess. Instead, Nate Amos's solo debut album, Box for Buddy, Box for Star under This is Lorelei, doesn’t quantify life by something as inconsequential as time, but rather by the numerous versions of himself that he surpasses. Because isn’t that what the meaning of life is? To endure and grow and do so again.   

For more than a decade, This is Lorelei was a place for “unedited diary entries,” where there were “no rules, no expectations.” Separate from Nate’s Brooklyn-based band, Water from Your Eyes, This is Lorelei is a free form of sound wherein he could emulate how the wind takes shape and what echoed through it that day without external pressures. For his first traditional release, Box for Buddy, Box for Star via Double Double Whammy, the same autonomy and intention is still deeply felt. 

Here, raw melodies spiral while weathered reflection rests beside eruptions of dissonance and atypical sounds, culminating into a gritty nexus of where our past and future converge. Written in a single summer, singles “Dancing in the Club,” “I’m All Fucked Up,” “Where’s Your Love Now,” and “Perfect Hand,” all orbit the same sun, while still giving his sonic tendrils the space to wander and stray, to tell different sides of the same story. 

Culminating into a 10-track, 40ish minute project–the ultimate album archetype–Box for Buddy knows what is even if it’s making fun that it's adhering to this paradigm. Following a traditional scheme of songwriting dealing with known furies of love, existentialism, disillusionment, and loss, in it’s entirety reads more as experiment of how complex these seemingly simple emotions get. Is there still something to be said about these feelings we know all to well? Yeah. 

As if finally forced to take itself seriously, This is Lorelei does so in it’s own terms, especially with tracks like ironically titled “A Song That Sings About You,”–which sounds like it might be a playful quip towards a love song. And yet, the track is a soft stringy confession saying, “All these cities look the same without you, the world just sings about you.” It’s here where maybe a joke becomes an illusion for true vulnerability. 

Not fully satirical intentioned and not pure country or electronic, it’s hard to place Box For Buddy, in any one box. Just as you think you’re pulling back more layers or think you're in on this ploy, you realize discovery might also be restrictive. Full of life’s contradictions, caveats, and expectations, Box for Buddy, Box for Star is no different. 

But don’t think too hard on it, as Nate shares, “As soon as you begin to talk about a song and what you're trying to do with it, it just begins to limit what it could actually be. It’s a good way to get out emotions that you don’t fully understand and just exist in the abstract forever.”

See here, Nate Amos of This is Lorelei, think on it just enough.

Photographed by Eve Alpert
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This has been your diary since 2012. How has This is Lorelei evolved since then? 

It's no longer just a stomping ground for me to brainstorm for other projects. It's actually turned into its own thing – just whatever I was studying at a given point. No rules, no expectations – that's usually how the most interesting things happen. There's also a balance. Even when something is tied up in business and it's going to be formally released, I still try to avoid thinking about that if at all possible. There are mental games that you can play to trick yourself into writing as if no one's ever going to hear it. 

It's nice that you didn't really have any intentions for this project. Now that you are making it a full release, what brought you to do this and make it more of a traditional, formal project? 

It began to turn into a project where it was equal parts earnest songwriting practice and equal parts…not commentary but playing with the idea of songwriting as a medium. At a certain point, it kind of flipped and became, still an outlet for feelings or emotions or whatever, but it also became music about music. That and some other things just naturally pushed this in the direction of, “Okay, what if this album is like an archetypal album with 10 songs, 42 minutes, like the kind of classic vinyl format even further into the existing language of traditional songwriting?” 

Part of that, conceptually, lent itself to being like, “Okay, if we're doing that, then it might as well be released like a formal album and have the release be part of the presentation and the medium where the whole idea is that it's this slightly more formal piece.” Even looking at the back catalog and being even more like, “Okay, this is all just like practice.” 

This is the debut album, which is funny because it's not. It's just the first time that the concept has been in a standard album format. I confuse myself though because it's the kind of thing when the longer you ramble about it, the more layers get added to it. 

Does talking about music actually defeat the purpose of making music? 

It's fun to talk about it, but it's also the last thing I would want to do. If someone made me a meal, I wouldn't be like, “Okay, write me a paragraph explaining this meal.” I kind of hate that idea. I understand the usefulness of talking about music and contextualizing it, but if I was really excited by an artist that I was following, I just want to hear it or see it. I don't want to read a dissertation. That can be interesting, but the way that I tend to think about stuff that I'm writing is ultimately meaningless, not that it can't mean something to someone or mean something to me. As soon as you begin to talk about a song and what you're trying to do with it, it just begins to limit what it could actually be. It’s a good way to get out emotions that you don’t fully understand and just exist in the abstract forever. 

What was something that was echoing in your head last summer when you were writing this? 

I had gotten back from a tour in Europe when I decided to stop smoking weed for a year. I always smoked when writing, so this kind of started as an exercise to see if I could write without  smoking weed. What would that be like? Would it be super different? Would it be the same? That's the main thing that I thought about. It turns out when I write without smoking, I just write songs with five times as many words, and then I have to shorten them all down, which is not what I was expecting. 

The album isn't trying to be experimental or progressive or anything. It's specifically about embracing an existing medium that is fully fleshed out. A couple different things played together, but rather than looking for new stuff to do, it’s focusing on doing stuff that you already know, but trying to do it better. Do what you love. I don't know what else I'd be doing.

Do you think that music consumes every part of your life?

Pretty much. I never really think about it unless someone's like, “What's a hobby you have that isn't related to music?” And I'm like, “I guess working on guitars or something.” That's about as far away as I get from it because it's been my passion for a long time, and now it's also turned into my job. All I really needed to continue to do it was an excuse, and now that it's a track that I'm on and something that I can spend the majority of my time doing, I don't really do anything else. I watch TV. I really love Survivor

That's so funny. Music is your Survivor


Photographed by OK McCausland

Do you think that you're a sensitive listener? Do you hear things that people may not notice or find meaning in sounds that people overlook?  

Yeah, I think so. For a long time, I was mostly producing other people and recording people. Especially from a sonic quality standpoint, I tend to zone in on things that maybe a casual music listener wouldn't listen to, but also it’s my shit, so I'm focused on it. In terms of harmony and compositional things, I'm sure there are people who could understand certain details way more than me. Ear training is something that I deprioritized in favor of a sonic quality and the textural aspects of things over the theory-related foundation of ideas.

What do you hope people take home after listening to Box for Buddy, Box for Star

Whatever they want. There's not a particular idea that I'm trying to drive home. It's more of an exploration of a state of mind that I hope people will find little moments that they identify with. It's just a tool for working through something. All the best music is very much up to interpretation. A listener's translation of what's going on is just as much a part of the art as the material they're given. So, as someone making something, whether it's a really complicated idea or a really simple idea, you want to anticipate that and have it be something that's holographic in nature so people can get around inside of it and do what they will with it. That is a much harder thing to do using a traditional medium like standard songwriting than it is if you're just making weird sounds. So, even though [Box for Buddy] is more of a middle-of-the-road album stylistically than I tend to make, it was even more of a challenge for that reason. I hope people like it.  

Who is Lorelei?

This is a funny thing that always comes up, because I actually didn’t even know it was a name for a person. It’s a planet in an episode of Star Trek, the animated series, that I watched forever ago. I cannot remember why that ended up being the name. This project started when I lived in Chicago but my parents lived in Vermont and I would go home for New Year’s. The first couple of releases were things I made while I was at home in Vermont on the side of a mountain. It’s very isolated. You’d go up there and not really do anything. I liked the idea of it being a place, but it’s one of these things that was so long ago, I don’t know the real reason. Years later, I watched Gilmore Girls and realized it was a name. 

How do you keep your heart open?  

I try to live with a policy of extreme forgiveness. That is what has worked for me. Making music is a soft thing. The tough, tough musicians are the funniest thing to me. I adore metal music, these people that are so scary up there, but you’re still playing your little song on a guitar. It’s the softest thing you can do, regardless of what the style is.

It's so cool that you can do everything so fully. 

You know, the more layers you can give something just opens up more possibilities for what it can be. You gotta keep it interesting. It's what I like to do. 

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This is Lorelei, Nate Amos, Box for Buddy Box for Star, Water from Your Eyes, Music, Bree Castillo