I ran into LP two years ago at a house party in Los Angeles. She had this really fun, outgoing, and eccentric personality. Her hair was also a sight to behold – not quite jheri curl, not quite jew-fro. Maybe it's a jhrei-fro? Anyway, some friends told me that she was a musician, so I kept my eye on her. Then, two weeks ago, I saw my buddy Rob Bragdon had covered her new singles over on music blog, Break On A Cloud.
Cue: That thing I do where I ping an artist on Twitter. "Hi LP. Let's do something cool. Not a lame interview."
Typical album reviews are boring. That's why I don't write album reviews. If you really want to know, LP's album is fantastic. When her friendly PR lady Amanda with Black Panda sent me the pre-release, I spent my whole evening listening to her music and dancing around my kitchen in just my socks and underwear. It's fun music for dancing around to in your socks and undies, while you cook – the highest praise I can offer an album.
Keeping in the spirit of cooking, I decided to talk to LP about her album, but also some food she loves. LP is a borderline vegetarian/pescatarian (that means she eats fish), so I came up with a quick recipes that are inspired by her album, that you can cook at home, without screwing up.
For "Heavenly Light" the first track on the album, I wanted to pair the song with a "heavenly & light" drink, but something with a kick to it as well. As LP said, "I like tequila. Tequila is a drink that a lot of people abuse, and just shoot it. I don't do that. I think it's an upper, and it's supposed to get you lifted. It's the best drink to have if you've had a long day, and you have a crazy night ahead of you."
Your Drink: The Tennessee Taster – bringing elements of my home (Tennessee) and LP's choice of liquor – tequila. It's a cleaner version of a traditional whiskey sour.
For this, you'll need to make your own simple syrup, and you're going to do it with BROWN SUGAR. Hear me? Get a cup of water, and a cup of brown sugar. Tequila has a rich, earthy flavor to it, much like whiskey – except it's made from a cactus, and that's why it's the devil. Put one cup of water, and one cup of brown sugar into a pot. Heat it until the sugar dissolves, and then take it off the burner. Wait for it to cool a bit.
Now you'll need…
.5 oz of grapefruit juice
.5 oz of lime juice
3 oz of Perrier sparkling water
2 oz of Avion Reposado
and when it's cool…
2 oz of brown simple syrup
This is a pretty simple drink. Add all the elements above into a big cup, filled with ice. Now stir.
That's it. You're done.
So what does LP have to say about Heavenly Light? "For me, it's about trying to keep my head sane. Everything in music is a business, and people get their head wrapped up in bullshit. There's no way around it. You just gotta keep your heart open, and keep going – for the artistic soul, and travel of it all. Even though it's hard sometimes, because the business side will always be nipping at your heels."
Our appetizer for this album/meal comes from Tokyo Sunrise. It starts off with an acoustic guitar riff, and moves into her sharp, piercing vocals. I thought it had a very Fleetwood Mac kind of feel about it – very "vintage cool". I felt like the song needed a southern fried, organic feel to it.
Enter: East Nashville Tofu
We're going to deep fry some tofu! Where I'm from, East Nashville is the hip area of town. It's a great place to cruise around on longboard, have a few Yazoo's, and enjoy a summer night. It's also a little more progressive, so it'd be the kind of place you'd find tofu.
1 package of firm or extra firm tofu
1 package of panko bread crumbs (they look flaky)
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of paprika
An iron skillet or small pan good for frying
A couple "glugs" of vegetable oil. (Your choice. Just something with a decent smoke point. Cold press olive oil is a BAD choice, hear me?)
A bottle of good, stone-ground mustard
A bottle of mayonnaise (or vegetarian substitute)
A couple tablespoons of honey
Mix all your dry elements together in a a bowl. The flour, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and spices. Just toss them about until they look decent.
Now, cut your tofu into strips. An inch wide will do. Put one of the tofu strips into the bowl with your breading in it. Toss it around some. Take it out, and put it on a plate by itself. Now, get another piece, and do the same thing. Bread all your tofu.
Once it's all done, The flour and the breadcrumbs will have gotten sorta moist. So get your breaded tofu strips and put them back into the breading one more time, just to make sure you've got complete coverage.
After everything is thoroughly breaded, put a couple glugs of oil into your skillet. It should be about a quarter inch deep. In the south, we call this "making something healthy". Everywhere else, they call it "frying". Turn up the heat to just above medium, and wait for your oil to get hot. You'll know it's hot enough by taking a small drop of water, and putting it into your fry oil. If it pops and sounds like all kinds of hell, you're ready to start frying.
Gently put a few strips of your breaded tofu into the oil. The color you're going to be looking for on the tofu is the "golden brown" that every recipe calls for. It shouldn't be more than a couple minutes on each side, so turn accordingly. Have a plate topped with two paper towels ready to transfer your tofu strips to when they're done. You don't need all the extra oil – trust me. You don't want to be like Honey Boo Boo's mom.
Ready to make honey mustard dipping sauce? Take equal parts honey, mayonnaise, and mustard, and add them into a bowl. Stir. Taste it. Want it spicier? Add more mustard. Want it sweeter? Add honey. Want it creamier? Add more mayonnaise.
Also, just a note: You'll want to eat these right away. They were just fried. Don't be the asshole who gets overly-excited and burns your mouth. Wait for your fried tofu to cool down a bit, and then put it into your homemade honey mustard sauce.
Toyko Sunrise is a bit like the deep fried tofu dish above. It's tofu, so it's supposed to be good for you, but sometimes, you make it bad for you. LP, on Tokyo Sunrise – "I wrote it before I finished the record. I was eight songs in, and it's about a past relationship which was the love of my life. It was deep." LP paused for a moment in the interview, and trailed off. I felt like this was worth noting, because I could tell she was really searching for the right words.
"It's about love, in general. Love that doesn't go away. It's like a room, in your house. It's like when a child dies, and the parents keep the room the way it is, for years and years. You can't go in there anymore. You know you can't be there in a physical sense, but you know in a spiritual sense, you'll see each other around another corner in life."
I implored her for a bit more, and she revealed, "When I was writing it, I thought, how am I going to find the words here? It's like the artistic pinnacle of the record."
Our main course is "Into The Wild", the video above. I liked the album version of track, but the Earmilk exclusive premiere of the acoustic version is even richer, and more raw. Keeping with that, we're going "into the wild" with some earthy, portobello mushrooms. Thankfully, this is an easy dish that basically no one can fuck up.
1 cup Red wine vinegar
1 cup Apple Juice
1 cup of chopped red onion
4 cloves of garlic
A glug of olive oil
Clean your mushrooms, take the stems off, and make sure they look pretty. Then put them into a shallow dish with the apple juice and vinegar, along with your chopped red onion, and your cloves of garlic, minced. This is a marinade, so let it sit for an hour or two. Or more. Whatever.
When you're done marinating the mushrooms, you can grill them outside if you have a grill, on a George Foreman grill, or just put them onto an iron skillet with a glug of oil. They'll take 4-5 minutes to grill, per side.
When they're done… you're done. Pretty easy, right?
LP shared some of her thoughts about Into The Wild. "I wrote the song when I didn't have a record deal. My heart was super open to whatever was happening. I was in the zone. I picked up my ukulele, and I just had it with me for writing sessions. It took on a life of its own. I brought out the whistling thing, and I've always kind of whistled, but never put it on a record. I was zoning out in the recording studio one day, and just whistling along to the record. The engineer and the producer heard it and said I should put it on the song. Then, after that, everyone was just talking about my whistling.
Before I go any further, I just want to state for the record that I wanted to come up with a dessert, but LP told me her favorite dessert was vegan chocolate cake. I'm a former vegan, but I still suck at making vegan chocolate cake. It's something best left to the pros. "One Last Mistake" is going to be your dessert song, because that's what dessert really is – one last mistake. You shouldn't be doing this, but you know, make your pancreas scream.
LP on "One Last Mistake": "It came later in the record. (Author's note: Kind of like how dessert comes later in a meal! Perfect!) It was a surprise. It changed the landscape of the record a bit. It opened rooms in the house of the record. It's a bit different than the other ones – we went down a Fleetwood Mac kinda road with the harmonies and I usually don't know how to go there. It has a singalong kinda vibe to it. It's a song about me deciding to fuck up my life one more time, with somebody."
If you really want vegan chocolate cake, go buy some. Find a great cake maker in your city or town, or go find a recipe you love. I don't know one off the top of my head.
The recipes you see above are all out of my own head, and I can verify that you'll love it all, just as much as I loved making this food while listening to the album.