Photo by Daniel Alexander Harris
Ali Lacey aka Novo Amor is a talented multi-instrumentalist who makes many homegrown tracks from his childhood bedroom. From writing film scores to creating the Novo Amor project as an outlet, he discusses his creative processes and latest album – ‘Birthplace’.
How did your passion for music come about?
It was inspired a lot by my brother and dad who are both musicians so I grew up around instruments most of the time. By the age of about 9 or 10, I was super into skateboarding and I was getting really into the music on the skate tapes and on the VHSs I would buy. I just wanted to immerse myself in that kind of music and be in those kind of bands. So I took up drums and guitar when I was 13. When I look back, I was just playing and playing and playing – then it just kind of happened, I guess.
And you’ve never gone back from that?
No, in terms of music as a career, I never really gave myself a plan b and I don’t think I’d really even expected to have a music career. Before doing the music that you’ve heard, I was making cinematic film scores as an aspiring film score and game composer. I wanted to produce for other people but I guess it just wasn’t really happening and that’s why I turned to songwriting for myself; from that point I haven’t really done much for anyone else apart from myself, which I quite like.
Would you say that now you use musical creativity as an outlet as you’re working more for yourself?
Yes, I feel like I’ve always just been interested in music because I loved it and how different pieces of music can make you feel – it’s basically soundtracking your own life – different pieces for different settings. I think it was in 2011, I went to America for a few weeks to work on some music and that was kind of a turning point for me with what I wanted to do because when I came home, that’s when I started the Novo Amor project; I had reasons to write songs which I’d never really done before. I was always just producing music: playing guitar and drums. It’s all very cliche – I met a girl out there, we had a relationship, then moved back to the UK and then broke up. Then I turned to music as an outlet. ‘Novo Amor’ means ‘new love’ in Galician and it was essentially me trying to create a new love.
How was that journey of creating music after that breakup? What was the process?
The journey was, essentially, I was going to move to London from Cardiff but it all fell apart and with a lack of direction I moved back into my childhood home. I’ve been working in an ice-cream shop all Summer and I spent all of my money on microphones, guitars, a banjo and stuff. All just in my childhood bedroom making music for a couple of months and a lot came out of it. After a year, it had been featured on one blog or something like that but it really spurred me on to keep making music. In a way, I think it was also helping me move on – putting myself into something and being creative.
Of course, now you’re releasing your new album ‘Birthplace’. The video for that track focuses a lot on plastic waste. What sparked your interest in fighting plastic waste?
The album has no environmental context, really. The video directors, Sil & Jorik, they came to me with this idea about plastic in the oceans and how it’s affecting us all. I spoke to my dad about it a few weeks before and he was saying it’d be great to see this ‘plastics in the ocean’ thing into a video one day but I didn’t want to push it. Then they [Sil and Jorik] came to me with the video so it felt completely right, so I jumped on it. I had very little input in that video – it’s really just them. I work with charities and try to make sure everything I do is eco-friendly, for example: my merch, when touring, getting rid of single-use plastic backstage.
What overall would you say the album is about?
‘Birthplace’ as a song, represents change as in releasing the attachment to something and it’s inadvertently started to manifest with the whole record whilst it was being made. I’ve always been inspired by sudden changes and movements in my life and the creation of this record has been a further output of this. I may have said this before, but the emigration of myself is now more felt and expressed over landing or becoming myself. It’s been six years on since I started making music, I see as it more of a joyous reason to look over the past and my reasons for starting Novo Amor.
Novo Amor’s debut album ‘Birthplace’ was released on 19th October via AllPoints. He’s currently on a European tour throughout Autumn. It seems like this album is just the beginning of Lacey’s full embodiment of the Novo Amor project and it’d be great to see how it develops through touring and future content.