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An interview by Dege Legg



Every time you think it’s all been done, something new tends to come along and inch its head over the horizon - either to stake a claim in a cultural sub-corner long enough to develop legs or to vaporize in the frosty mists of oblivion. In the case of the electric guitar (b. 1931), one of the newer movements — fueled in small part by a gold rush-like boom in the boutique effects pedal industry — is the creation of instrumental, ambient guitar music by adventurous musicians. This ain’t no Chuck Berry riffs. This new breed of guitarrorists — many of them performing solo, while layering symphonies of sound into multiple, interlocking guitar loops — are more like the budding heirs of Glenn Branca, Sonic Youth, shoegaze, Sunn O, Harry Partch, and No Wave. Rather than cajole you into the fist pumping belligerence that accompanies more traditional music formats, these binaural pirates seek to create a style of music that meditatively entrances your mind, soul, and dream spirit with epic and immersive soundscapes. Former Lafayette resident, Sarah Lipstate (performing under the name Noveller) is one of the newer, standout guitarrorists to pioneer fresh sonic territory in this scene. Her gorgeous, cinematic guitar compositions - celebrated in both the U.S. and Europe -  exude a harmonic complexity and exquisitely nuanced emotionality often unheard in this style of music. The Ouija board of her fingers has unlocked some secret, occulted realm between pastoral wonder and sixth-density ethereality.

1. History of Sarah Lipstate in five words, more or less?
Girl meets guitar. Finds self.


2. Most common problem you’ve experienced with a massive pedalboard rig besides cartage?
I've had to start keeping a journal of all my pedal settings because it's become dangerous to try and rely on my brain to store all that info. I have 19 effects pedals in my current setup.


3. Typical day in the life of Sarah Lipstate?
Hours of caffeine-fueled guitar playing for an audience consisting of one cranky cat and an indifferent dog, followed by a choose-your-own-adventure assortment of fending off the neighborhood coyotes, reading science fiction, attempting to cook and drinking tequila.

4. If gifted seven inch high-heeled Gene Simmons demon boots, when would be the appropriate time to wear them?
Easy. I'd wear them any and every time I'm playing my double-neck guitar.

5. When confronted with a difficult piece that refuses to take shape, are you more likely to A) trudge through and finish, B) let it flow at its own pace, or C) party down with some freaky weirdness to get the creative muscles loosened up?
Typically I'll go with B, though I've been known to get down with C on occasion.


6. Worst gig ever?
I don't consider any gig a total disaster but I had a prototype effects pedal that I was using break on me while playing a show in NYC where David Byrne and Annie Clark (St. Vincent) were in attendance. All of the sound cut out during one of my songs and I had to fumble around and remove the bad pedal from my board while making apologies to the audience for the technical difficulties. I guess it worked out because a few months later I got asked to open for Annie on a St. Vincent tour.

7. You grew up in Lafayette. Best thing about Lafayette? Worst thing about Lafayette for an eclectic artist?
Best: Louisiana is culturally unique. And growing up in Lafayette gave me a rich foundation of experiences that have greatly benefitted me as an artist and a human being.
Worst: As a young woman interested in underground music, I felt somewhat isolated in a city where you had to be 21+ or 18 to go to shows and experience live music. I felt like my musical interests were more aligned with an older crowd, and there wasn't a safe place at the time to really form a community.


8. You lived in New York and recently moved to Los Angeles, thus far what’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed in the vibe?
There are amazing people in both cities, however I find that folks in Los Angeles tend to be a bit more open. NYC forces you to build up a tough exterior because it's such a hard place to survive as an artist. L.A. is more laid back.

9. You opened for Iggy Pop. What’s Iggy like before or after the gig?
After the gig, Iggy is a sweaty shirtless sweetheart prone to giving hugs.

10. Best advice for handling the brutality of rejection and/or total indifference to one’s life pursuits?
I never thought that my musical career would take off the way that it has. I create music because it is the one thing that truly brings about a sense of calm within me. It's how I negotiate my anxiety and the stress of being a human. Outside validation certainly makes it easier to have a career but it isn't essential to creating work that is meaningful. Rejection just forces you to find a different path to getting what you want.  

11. At the Monterey Pop Festival, guitarist Mike Bloomfield implored the audience to “Dig yourselves…because it’s really groovy.” In the event of losing one’s grooviness — by age, cultural shift, whatnot — what method should one use to regain it?
Keep creating work and connecting with people in your community.  If your creative perspective is strong then it will endure. Invest in your work and make peace with the fact that the rest of it is out of your hands.  

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