Electronica Duo Sun Lo (ATTLAS & Richard Walters) Shares the Otherworldly “Heights”
February 10, 2023 BY Jason Currell
The atmospheric electronica duo of ATTLAS and Richard Walters, monikered Sun Lo, announce their debut album Shapes In My Head due out April 28th via Nettwerk. Despite having never met in real life, the dually acclaimed artists join forces on a project that aims to fuse the world of the club with that of the songwriter. Though it’s not a concept album, ATTLAS’s production and Walters’ lyrics coalesced around a single narrative, inspired by Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2021 novel Klara and the Sun, a work of dystopian sci-fi in which an artificial intelligence examines its relationship with the human world.
The latest expression of their jointly created world comes in the form of new single “Heights.” Immersive and emotive, the delicate layers and mind-bending movements from ATTLAS compliment Walters’ soaring, euphoric vocal melody.
Sun Lo describes “Heights” as “a song about fragility and understanding, and the journey to reaching that point of empathy. It’s coming from an environmental point of view, but also applicable to emotional brittleness in humans.”
WATCH & SHARE “HEIGHTS” OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO:
ABOUT SUN LO:
Shapes in My Head is the debut album by Sun Lo, a collaboration between multitalented Canadian producer ATTLAS and acclaimed British vocalist Richard Walters. Bringing together two likeminded artists who have never even met in real life, the album demonstrates a synergy between the seemingly disparate musical worlds of the club, the orchestra, and the singer-songwriter.
Jeff Hartford grew up in Toronto playing piano, trumpet, guitar, bass and banjo — instruments which still play a part in his compositional techniques today. He listened to Beethoven and briefly worked as an assistant for a Hollywood film composer but started releasing music as ATTLAS in 2015 after sending some demos to the Canadian electronic giant deadmau5. He went on to become one of the most celebrated artists ever to sign to deadmau5’s label mau5trap, releasing a string of EPs through the imprint as well as three albums.
Among his mau5trap releases was his second album Out There With You, released at the height of lockdown in late 2020. Richard Walters was one of the record’s many fans, and soon after its release he reached out to Hartford on Twitter, striking up a conversation which before long led to an exchange of ideas. “I think it was very soon after some of those first conversations that there were folders being sent to Richard,” Hartford remembers. “The folder that Jeff initially sent me was about 30 to 40 pieces of music,” Walters adds. “I could have written something to every single one of them.”
Walters grew up in Oxford, England, and spent his teens singing with several different bands. He began releasing as a solo artist in 2007, releasing five successful albums and collaborating with a myriad of talents including The Cranberries’ guitarist Noel Hogan, British poet laureate Simon Armitage in the band LYR, and even Oscar-nominated actor and singer Florence Pugh.
The connection between Walters and Hartford was immediate. They bonded over a shared taste in music, discussing everyone from Talk Talk to John Hopkins to Moderat to Neil Young. “We haven’t met yet,” Walters says. “But I feel like I know Jeff really well, just through our conversations about music.”
Walters began adding scratch vocals to the tracks Hartford had sent him, a variety of ambient and club compositions that provided the bedrock of their creative process. During their exchanges they began talking about Ishiguro’s novel Klara and the Sun. Noticing parallels between the AI’s separation from the human world and life in the time of Covid-19, Walters and Hartford built their own narrative, written from the perspective of an AI living among people.
The idea allowed Hartford to indulge a side to his musicianship which is not often appreciated in the electronic scene. “I was really fortunate to be able to do electronic music, but the real impetus for me getting into music was the singer-songwriter stuff,” he says. “I think that’s why the project was so exciting, because I got to flex those singer-songwriter intuitions that I had always preferred to lean towards, and then use all the technology and production tools I had learned after a bunch of years working in studios.”
For Walters too, writing from a new perspective was a revelation. “The AI story arc was a gift. It allowed me to put an emotional layer between myself and the song,” he says. “So the lyrics have ties to me and my life and my experiences, but they’re not so confessional or wrung out.”
The album serves as both a glance towards a dystopian future and a time capsule from the trying times of the pandemic. Lyrics reflect both the plight of its AI protagonist and the frustration of lockdown: “Dreaming in monochrome and sepia / sometimes blue and red bleed in,” sings Walters on ‘Lately’. But there’s a positivity to the album too, an uplifting quality that suggests a bright future for the relationship between humans and AI — as well as a fruitful partnership between Hartford and Walters.
1. Factory Gates
3. Never Learned
5. Nothing Permanent
8. Some Part of Me
9. I Still See You
10. Shapes In My Head
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