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Like the distant cousins of Jose Gonzales and Boards of Canada, Jed and Lucia’s songs have a pastoral sensibility that has been warped by their love for electronics. “Superhuman Heart” is a kaleidoscope of tunes dreamed-up and recorded in the hills, parks and woods of North Berkeley. Their vocal harmonies smack of classic 1960s Cali-pop, but Jed and Lucia’s acoustic guitars and poignant lyrics are subverted by sun-drenched synths and bass lines that add a subtle dose of urban bump and grind. Folksy songs are transformed by acid-tripped atmospherics in a soundtrack for creatures that crawl from the back woods into the city at nightfall.
Jed and Lucia are Emma Lucia and Mark Reveley. Mark comes from Bainbridge Island, Washington, while Emma grew up as a second generation Swede in Los Angeles. They met and started making music together in 1995, playing together in various groups until starting Jed and Lucia in 2005, self-releasing their first album, Candles in Daylight, in 2006. They lived together in various desert outposts at the fringes of Los Angeles until 2008 when they moved up to the Bay Area and to the hills of Berkeley. In 2009 they started a side project, Kite in the Air, with Mike Dillon aka Mike Genius, releasing 2 EPs.
“We'd talked about moving to the Bay for maybe a decade and finally made it happen,” says Emma. “We have a lot of friends who live here, love the open creative energy, and living close to Tilden Park is such an inspiration,” she says. “We pretty much just make music and drink tea and walk around the park in a daze,” adds Mark.
At their home studio, the couple co-produce music, sharing ideas they’ve come up with on their own time. “Our sound is refraction times two….it’s kinda’ like the refraction cancels,” jokes Mark. “This is basically what it’s like to live and work and write and record in the same house together. We pretty much spend our day refracting each other,” he explains.
They also split lyrical writing duties on an album that includes dreamy and cinematic songs called, and about, “California.” There are also songs about friendship like “You Were Made of Stone,” which Emma says is the story of watching a friend let go of their dreams. And, not surprisingly, there are songs about living together, like the stripped-down “On Lockdown.” Emma, 7 months pregnant at the time of writing, explains how her physical condition affected this record. “It's definitely a surreal experience, I think I am a bit more spacey these days and calmer which has made recording a really enjoyable relaxed experience. It is a creative space to be in, so creating music at the same time is pretty cool. Being pregnant for me kind of feels like being in a dream state all the time.”
But the album isn’t all floaty and dreamy. Tidy beats and trippy electronics poke their way through, and washes of glassy synths bathe the songs, adding a unique edge to their sound. “I usually take over production at a certain point because I'm kind of o.c.d. and Emma has better things to do like go outside and exist in the world and things like that. I'll work on the tracks and play it for Emma and her fresh ear will usually hear what is and is not working, and where things should go,” explains Mark. On tracks like “Coin Falls on Pavement,” “Hand Out” and “The Park” their vocals ride persuasive bass lines and bouncy beats, whereas on “April Showers” and “Circle of Stones” the beats take back seat to swirling atmospherics.
A casual listen to Superhuman Heart might throw off references to Boards of Canada, Juana Molina, or School of Seven Bells. Mark and Emma list a much more eclectic list of influences that were in-play during the process of making Superhuman Heart. These include Kurt Vile, Stars of the Lid, Mt Kimbie, El Perro Del Mar, Tim Hecker, Viv Albertine, Stina Nordenstam, Shawn Lee, Tuung, Fever Ray, Caribou, Tycho, Egberto Gismonti, Lykki Li and many more. And the musical backgrounds for Jed and Lucia are equally as interesting. For a couple of months in 2001 Mark travelled Ghana, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Senegal and Mali studying music and collecting old African funk, afrobeat and highlife records. “I ditched all my possessions and brought back my weight limit in vinyl,” he says. Upon his return he started Afrodisiac Records with a couple partners, releasing two African funk comps, "Booniay" and "The Danque" with Mad Professor and Scientist providing remixes. Mark is also active in the electronic groups Meterhead, and Wzrdz and played in Dakah, the 30+ piece Hop Hop orchestra, “I was the jaw harpist. I think I was probably the only hip hop jaw harpist around. Now I don't think there are any. There might be a reason for that....” Drawing on her heritage Emma has written an albums-worth of songs in Swedish and is hoping to record them soon.
While Jed and Lucia have their hands full with family matters they aim to continue writing, producing and recording as much as possible.