What do four women who create synth heavy music with well-constructed stage looks that would make Gaga envious have to do with the American manufacturing movement? What does any American artist or small business have to do with "made in America"? Perhaps it's unmooring to bring the parallels to light, but we artists, entrepreneurs, makers, and manufacturers must find ways to band together, to celebrate art and its origins in combinatorial manners. LEX is Alexis (vocals, synthesizers), LP (synthesizers), Licia (bass, synthesizers) and J (drums). Their modern electro-pop sound owes a lot to history, using vintage analog synthesizers, and everything is played live during their performance - no backing tracks or computers onstage.
But here it is - LEX was born in our city, Los Angeles, and they share a profound belief that collaboration amongst local artists and the use of sustainable materials is important to their work. LEX's first EP was produced by multi-Grammy award winning engineer Peter Franco, who worked on the last two Daft Punk albums. Collaborating with the band for costuming was designer Amanda Zamora, who spent the past ten years as Global Apparel Design & Innovation Lead at Adidas, patenting fabrics and specializing in bio mechanics and kinetic design (Adidas recently announced plans to open a Detroit manufacturing facility). Creative Director Michelle Zamora, Amanda's sister, who has worked with American artists such as Pharrell and Katy Perry, lent her knowledge of directing, fabrication, and production. We recently chatted with Alexis as the quartet traversed the West Coast for a San Francisco tour date. She's excited about the future of LEX and the importance they've placed on the materials and make-up of the art as well as the music. Follow our roadtripping dialogue below as the girls pass by "an IKEA in the middle of nowhere" and check out the "LEX" EP here.
Is the art , music, and fashion inextricable for LEX?
For us, fashion and art and mixed media are a huge part of LEX and our whole being. Some of our biggest influences are people that mix all of the above perfectly, like David Bowie and Bjork. Now, with the music industry the way it is, it’s really important to have a show be spectacular because you’re taking people’s time – they came out to see you with so many other options.
How long have you been together as a group, and what more can you tell us about your backgrounds?
We've been together about a year. Almost all of the members come from a jazz background but have also played in rock bands. And as far as the art integration, that was always my vision. I wrote the songs before I even had a band, and I was so fortunate to have caught the eye of producer Peter Franco and for him to want to work with us. It’s been a dream of mine to go art-forward in this group, and the girls are such a blessing as they’re all in, too. They’re game!
What was it like working with the Zamora sisters to create the costuming and mixed media elements?
Oh my gosh! They were integral to creating this feeling of the music and performance following an epic journey – lights and darks. They’re involvement is such an important element. I was able to tell Amanda (Zamora) I love warrior goddesses, powerful women, The NeverEnding Story, Blade Runner, and she took that and sketched the most amazing outfits and Michelle would execute them. We used materials from thrift stores and reworked fabrics for much of the costumes.
Prior to creating LEX, had you ever worked in or around fashion collaborations?
To be honest, not too much, and never on a professional level. I’d worked with friends on personal projects, and even made my prom dresses and Halloween costumes by hand! I remember when I was little I followed Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and just wanted to be in that world and loved it so much. And I of course watched plenty of musicians I idolize use fashion and music together to create a special world. It’s a dream come true to be able to do it with LEX. My background is mainly performance art – theater, musicals, and dance.
Now, fans can be a part of this costuming, as the Zamora sisters took a popular part of our costumes – the harness – and made a modified version for people to have and add embellishments to.
Any local, Los Angeles designers you love?
We’re big fans of Hells Bells and Dimepiece. I feel like it’s really important to support local artists, which is why we pulled together a team of collaborators all based here. I’m a little green about specific fashion labels as opposed to the designs themselves, but another is Love Madly. My band is screaming at me to also mention Show Me Your Mumu! That’s another brand we follow.
Isn't that the incredible thing about the "local" art scene in Los Angeles - it's local with a massive national/international lens on it?
It’s so true! It’ s so intimate and local here and yet we’re meeting people that have helped us on these massive national levels.
The name LEX, what's the origination?
Ohhh, yes, the name. When I first started LEX it was a solo project, and thank god, with the help of Peter, I was able to find these beautiful artists I get to play with now. LEX was originally a nickname, but now we see the name as an experience. It’s the music, our shows, us, all of it.
Any dream collaborators?
We’re big fans of Andrew Thomas Huang. He’s been working with Bjork lately on her MOMA exhibit. He lives in Los Angeles, and he’s just an extraordinary artist, mixing real, physical elements with CGI. We love incorporating future sounds with vintage sounds, and he does a beautiful job of marrying them.