September 28, 2023

Lipsticism is the solo project of musician and producer Alana Schachtel. Born and raised outside of Chicago, she spent the majority of her adult life in the Pacific Northwest where she first started experimenting with sound. Her latest compositions blend her love of sound design and song and integrate her wide variety of influences. Some highlights of her musical career have been performing and touring with Avey Tare of Animal Collective, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Blue Hawaii, and Jerry Paper.

How did your interest in music begin?
I have felt absolutely entranced and obsessed with music ever since my memories started but I never received any training or music lessons.  I started making music when I was in college after I downloaded a digital audio workstation software. My brain doesn’t allow me to read manuals (I read the same line over and over again and derive no meaning from it) so I learned to use the software slowly by clicking buttons and seeing what happened. I was a competitive dancer and rhythmic gymnast growing up so when I first started making music I would imagine choreography and then create the sounds that would fit with it. Music production gripped me in a way instruments hadn’t prior because of the opportunity to create immersive sound environments and pull from an infinite sonic palate. I also like how synthesizers can create sounds one doesn’t immediately associate with an instrument or room.  They often prompt visual associations that are not musical, like a volcanic landscape or something and it’s really fun and enjoyable when music can take me on that kind of journey!
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?
My upcoming album is called Elapsed Kiss and it will be out 10/20 so I have been putting together my live set for that. I started working on my next album so I am trying to methodically keep developing it. It only took me 7 weeks to make Elapsed Kiss but my prior album Two Mirrors Facing Each Other took 4 years. I want to move quicker now simply because life is short and there’s only so much time to create. I also have a dream pop/ shoegaze band with my partner called Immaterialize and we are finishing up that record too.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now?
Gregorian chants, epic landscapes, lots of reverb on acoustic guitars, autotune, harmonies, choirs, intense bass, being really confessional in lyric-writing and feeling scared and vulnerable by that. It sounds funny but I’m really influenced by fear and the feeling of being disoriented. I am frequently inspired by memory. I find it inherently creepy since we rely on our brains for it and it’s super influenced by emotion and therefore not objective or precise.
What are some of the best or worst reactions you have gotten to your work?
When I played my first show around 2013 at a college house party a frat bro type yelled “how much acid do you do?” Can’t decide if that falls under best or worst reactions.
It’s really cool whenever someone tells me about a place or visual association my music evokes in them. Similarly, I really enjoy when people share emotional associations like a song reminding them of a feeling or memory.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
In my mind I want to live in a rocky coastal area next to a lighthouse but in reality I may find that scary and understimulating. I am equally interested and satisfied by quiet dense nature and large urban environments. This means I am always feeling like places are lacking because those two environments don’t coexist. I feel kind of embarrassed to admit that because it sounds really dramatic but it’s a constant source of unease.
How often do you dance?
Not often enough. I dance in short little spurts at home when music is playing. I used to go wild on the dancefloor when I was younger and I kinda lost that in recent years. Lately I like going to DJ sets and closing my eyes and listening to the music.
What’s your favorite thing to make for dinner?
Lately I’ve been really into curry. I made a really good curry with vegetables, rice and really firm lemongrass tofu the other night and I keep thinking about it. I also like making soup with a lot of root vegetables and dill. I don’t care for dill on it’s own but it does something magic to broth.
What podcasts do you listen to?
You’re Wrong About, Otherworld, Being Well With Forest, and Rick Hanson, random podcasts about psychotherapy. I have been interested in herbs lately so sometimes I will search for a podcast episode that does a deep dive on that specific herb. I also love exposés and shocking stories.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love being outside and I go to forest preserves or the lake often. I love to cook and bake. I have always been a big text/ talk on the phone with my friends person.
What’s the most gratifying part of creating?
It’s so cool to see what comes out, I don’t plan or imagine songs before creating them so writing a song can feel like a miracle. Not a miracle in a value sense but because the whole process is really intuitive and based on stumbling upon things it sometimes feels accidental.  I’m often really surprised by the outcome and don’t remember how I did it. I like the roulette quality of sitting down to write something.
Interview conducted and edited by Emma Kang James.