Haynes takes different road with Sophe Lux & The Mystic project
First Lady Michelle Obama provided a rallying cry earlier this year when she said, “When they go low, we go high,” at the Democratic National Convention. Portland’s Gwynneth Haynes has her own declaration for these interesting times, basically saying that in a cynical world, here’s some light.
And that’s a bit of a change for the leader of Sophe Lux & The Mystic.
“It’s a little bit of a different vibe from the old stuff,” Haynes said of her debut album with this new project, All Are One. “The old stuff is a little more cynical and the critical eye is right in your face. The same stuff is in this one; this one is just a little less cynical. But it’s still critiquing. And it’s fun.”
So don’t get frightened by song titles such as “Walking the White Winged Horse,” “The Love Comet,” or “Infinite Colors of Desire.”
“Don’t let it freak you out,” she laughs. “Just dive in and have some fun. The images and the characters, they’re all telling you that this is about life.”
It’s also accessible, eclectic, and yes, fun, making it precisely the album you would expect from the woman who wrote the song “God Doesn’t Accept American Express.” But at the same time, Haynes wants to hit listeners from a different angle that doesn’t dull her edge, but, in a captivating way, sharpens it.
“I lived in New York for a while, and when I’m in New York I get right into that vibe,” she said of the cynicism that fuels this city. “I’m with you guys. (Laughs) But my whole thing is, I think we’ve got to love what could be more than hate what is. We have to ask, what’s possible for us? What kind of world do we want to live in? And when you’re putting consciousness out there, you’re responsible.”
Haynes isn’t preaching though. In fact, it’s far from that, as she’s taken relevant topics and wrapped them in a mysterious package that will involve those who take the leap into her world.
“The mystery thing, I don’t know if it’s intentional,” she said. “I just said, I’ve got to try some characters out. These characters popped up out of nowhere, and I was like, ‘This is fun.’ I love David Bowie, and I know it’s my unconscious somewhere to make characters, make pictures, make videos, make stuff. It’s like the only way I can get this message out was on an imagination ride. It couldn’t be straight. Then it would sound like ‘We are the World,’ and who needs that? (Laughs) It wasn’t a bad idea; it was just a lot more saccharine than I could ever handle. So let’s make it fun, let’s make it a little crazy and that’s what happened. I wasn’t trying to be mysterious, but it came out that way a little bit.”
That’s not a bad thing, and in fact, it will only add to Haynes’ already renowned live experiences, which, combined with her fearlessness in the studio, mark her as one of a dwindling breed of artists that don’t have the “off the bar stool, on to the stage” mindset that has invaded the music business. When you see a Sophe Lux & The Mystic show, you will get a show.
“I love performing,” she said. “Performing is such a pleasure, such a payoff, and who are you doing this for? You’re not doing it for yourself in your own bedroom. You’re doing it for them, and that is the pinnacle of the reward because it’s about giving it to them.
“So it’s not just a message, it’s not just the music, it’s not just a voice; it’s the entire package,” Haynes continues. “I come from a family where we did all the arts. We didn’t just do theater, we did painting. We didn’t just do singing, we did poetry. And part of me is like, the world deserves a full, intentional idea. I don’t just want to throw something out there out of my subconscious or out of my journal. Who wants to see someone’s journals? Come on, the world deserves better. Or another, no offense, stupid love song? It’s not that I’m not sentimental. I just keep that out of my work. So I’m done with all that. I want to do something more substantive. I’m asking questions, and I hope we’re all asking questions.”
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