By Shannon Carlin
It was while driving through Sedona, Arizona on his way to Los Angeles that Matthew Hemerlein came up with the moniker Lo-Fang. The alias was a play on a song he’d written years before, called “No Fang,” but it was also his attempt to balance the feminine and masculine elements in his music.
For him the word “lo” relates to the feminine energy, usually found in the string compositions that he incorporates into his songs. “Fang,” meanwhile, represents the more masculine, industrialized beats he tends to use. Hemerlein aims to strike a counterbalance between the two, so much so that “lo” and “fang” have become helpful keywords in the recording studio with him requesting “more fang” or “more lo.”
“The meeting points of really disparate sounds is interesting to me,” he explains.
With his debut, Blue Film (out Feb. 25), the former music teacher from Baltimore manages to find a happy medium between the two competing styles.
On the album’s sexy title-track, he uses warped synths to play off the naughty meaning behind the phrase “blue film,” a euphemism for pornography in India. The classically trained violinist sweetly plucks away, counteracting some of the song’s creepiness and making the track seem more heartfelt than lecherous.
With his slinky cover of “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease, Hemerlein drops down to a F-sharp major to put a seedy spin on Danny and Sandy’s love song. His updated version was inspired by a rather feminist take on the movie.