Your Deodorant Doesn’t Work. That’s the quirky title of indie-pop duo Lips’ new song as they enter album-release mode for the first time with an 11-track offering badged ‘I Don’t Know Why I Do Anything.’ Sam Smith spoke to Lips members Steph Brown and Fen Ikner about the duo’s change of deodorant, errr… direction it represents. Made with the support of NZ On Air.
Written during Covid-enforced lockdown, Steph Brown explains they were both listening to a lot of standup comedy to pass the time, and this influenced the development of the single.
“I was thinking about comedians’ delivery and how often they have this way of delivering a line where they sort of ooze it out, almost like you ooze out toothpaste from a tube! I really like it, and I was thinking I wanted to try to do something like that, and so I just thought of that first line, ‘your deodorant does not work’, and tried it in that voice, and then that was the beginning of the song.”
Lips have in the past been known for their more measured material; making this upbeat song a change of direction, something both Brown and partner Fen Ikner say was intentional.
“Lips’ stuff had been downtempo mostly. We were playing shows in New York, and sometimes we found ourselves opening for some uptempo dancey group, and we had nothing but downtempo material – there were all these kids on drugs looking to dance and we were not able to give them what they needed!
“That began the experimentation of, ‘Okay, well what is our uptempo sound?’ So we just started to experiment with how to play faster stuff,” says Brown.
At the same time, though, Brown says that with the song, they were not looking for it to go in any particular direction style-wise.
“In my mind, it was an abstract idea of like, ‘I want to do this comedian thing.’ I wasn’t trying to go for any style or genre, I just wanted to explore this idea of comedy. It retains some of the Lips’ stuff that we have always done, which is lots of synths and lots of rhythm and that kind of stuff, but it is definitely the weirdest song on the album.”
Deciphering the single’s message, Brown explains it is mostly about the nitty-gritty nature of relationships, and how they don’t often go smoothly.
“Basically, it is like, ‘I messed up, I didn’t handle this very well. I am sorry, I wonder how someone else would have done this. What can I learn from this situation?’ That kind of thing.”
The album from which the song comes is due out in July. It’s called ‘I Don’t Know Why I Do Anything’, which incidentally is taken from Your Deodorant Doesn’t Work, and both Brown and Ikner’s favourite lyric in the song.
They are looking forward to performing the track live and taking the album on the road with a newly expanded line up according to Brown.
“I think we both wanted that high energy set that we now have with our new band members. So it is us two, and we have got Ruby Walsh on bass and Maude Morris on guitar. So we are now a four-piece and our live set now, I think we are both stoked with where we have got to with it.”
Photo kindly provided by Chris Zwaagdyk.