Julia Holter ‘Lucette Stranded on the Island’

I wrote a song recently called “Lucette Stranded on the Island”, inspired by a character in a short story by Colette called “Chance Acquaintances”. Lucette is a side character in the story, but a devastating one. She is brought to sea by a lover she doesn’t know well, and he attacks her, steals her emeralds, and leaves her stranded on an island. Later on, she dies of blood-poisoning from the wound he inflicted upon her. The brutal scenario seemed so relevant—all the violence and greed of the world—a timeless classic subject, sadly. I was interested in capturing just the moment where she wakes up on the island—what it must be to wake up, after being knocked unconscious, on a mysterious piece of land. And to be light-headed and confused. I just wanted to make a song that captured all of the discombobulated thoughts that would swirl through her head at that particular moment. What would that sound like?

First, she calls out her own name, convincing herself she is still alive and can remember things.  Then, she lists her favorite things, and sees imagery from her childhood appear and disappear in front of her in the sand.  Above her, she sees birds circling, asking, “Who is she? Where does she come from?”

I chose “dreamy” seventh chords for most of the song. It is a simple set of progressions. Kind of a recitative vocal delivery. And then the chorus voice is taken over by the birds.

There is an ending section, where the birds continue to “sing a song”, but things get all wild. I guess these are the violent memories of her attacker coming to her, and she is trying to make sense of it, amidst the flurry of birds.

Sampled harp glissandos, flutes, and fake violins, and a half-broken mellotron are found throughout—all somehow forming what I think is a kind of sea-green hue, were it a color. Everything in it feels, to me, submerged in subconscious.

 

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Wolf Notes #8 collected short pieces of writing by eighteen composers discussing one of their own works. The full edition is available as a limited edition riso-print booklet from Compost and Height. A selection of the texts are made available here.