El May The Other Person Is You
With The Other Person is You songwriter El May - also known as Lara Meyerratken - has created an album full of love, loss, desire, and strength. Get to know the layered and orchestral The Other Person is You – with it’s striking images and auditory delights – and it will come as no surprise that before building a career as a freelance musician and composer, Meyerratken was a painter and printmaker, and still makes time for visual experiments.
This is the second full-length album written, produced and performed by El May. Her self-titled debut LP was released in 2010, and received US radio support from KCRW and KEXP, and was licensed for television (Pretty Little Liars, The Lying Game, Melrose Place) and film (Our Idiot Brother). Prior to recording under the moniker El May, Meyerratken’s impressive capabilities as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist were harnessed by a remarkable variety of artists such as Nada Surf, Luna, Crooked Fingers, and Luscious Jackson.
The Other Person is You came to be when, after a string of romantic disappointments, Meyerratken embarked on a period of quiet self-evaluation. How does one love without transferring unfair expectations onto another person? What does it mean to take care of oneself? These inquiries led to an inspiring realization: all the people we encounter in our lives, whether they are foes or friends, are only aspects of ourselves.
Lyrically, the songs on The Other Person is You show a psychological interest in noticing and questioning our patterns in relationships, our habits and tendencies, and the search for their origins. Meyerratken elaborates: “In time it becomes clear that our difficult experiences in relationships help birth us into a new phase. The hurt and frustration that another person can cause us throws into relief exactly what we need to look at within ourselves. People play a role, as if they were under a divine contract to bring us to a certain place.”
This realization was the key to unlocking a journey toward personal responsibility and spiritual liberation, and the driving force behind a record that takes listeners on an auditory journey through a young woman’s interior landscape. We meet her demons, her lovers, her friends, her authority figures. Regarding the sunny, harmony-driven ‘Science’ Meyerratken calls it “a bit of a battle between two animals, this best self - the best intentioned self - and our addicted, hypnotized selves.” While in the slow-jam, disco-pop duet ‘Diamonds, Girl’, she suggests that we turn the longing for another back toward ourselves. “The energy we output towards romantic relationships is the same stuff we can use for creativity, and we sometimes find ourselves hemorrhaging precious life force, our libido, on relationships going nowhere.”
The wishes, hopes, and discoveries contained in these songs paint a portrait of a woman determined to transmute her capacity for love into understanding and compassion for herself. The final two songs on the record, the spare and vulnerable ‘Atlantic, Pacific’ and orchestral, heroic ‘Oh, Get Carried’, are homages to self-care and trust in the divine embrace. “It doesn't matter how winding, strange and lonely our paths can be, we are carried….We can be hurt, alone and tumbled around, but our faith, our quiet work is what carries us. Our quiet faith is what carries us. Our quiet faith in something that carries us.”
An Australian living in LA, Meyerratken wrote The Other Person is You at seldom-used picnic tables in secluded parts of the Griffith Park trails, in her cosy Los Feliz apartment and late into the night at her parents’ dining table when visiting family in England.
For all the solitary time Meyerratken spent writing and producing, there’s a celebratory excitement in the album, owing to her recruitment of a “bunch of friends that live around me in LA.” (calling them special guests would be too formal) including Allison Pierce (The Pierces), Koool G Murder (Eels), Chris Cheney (The Living End), Sean Eden (Luna), members of The Silver Lake Chorus, Sara Lov (Devics), Blake Hazard (The Submarines), Eugene Kelly (The Vaselines) and Britta Phillips and Dean Wareham (Luna, Dean & Britta).
The result is a record as a love-letter to the fully-lived life, written by a woman who dedicates her days to searching for answers to her big questions through making music and art. “The record itself became the resolution to all this searching,” says Lara. "There’s an alchemy in turning experiences into music that brings about so much of the repair. The discipline, the right to make a noise, being invisible verses existing, intangible hurt into something I can begin to understand, something people might be able to dance to.”
El May will be touring in the UK this autumn. The Other Person is You will be released on CD, digital & limited edition heavyweight white vinyl LP.