Walking into their third full-length album, Future Souls (Plaid Records) due out March 25, 2014 on Plaid Records, Uh Huh Her kept asking a myriad of questions. You might think after a critically acclaimed catalog of two LPs and three EPs, independently carving out a diehard fan base, and playing countless packed shows, the Los Angeles duo of Camila Grey and Leisha Hailey would have it all figured out. However, they're still making discoveries and inquiries on both philosophical and musical levels.
"It comes back to the title," declares Grey. "I'm constantly questioning what the hell is going on with this planet. We're on a big ball floating through space around another larger ball of fire. That constantly perplexes me, and I'm like, 'What the fuck is this? Where are we?' Those questions culminated in a lot of the new songs. The concept of Future Souls asks, 'Where are we going? What are we evolving into? Where does your soul go?'" Hailey adds, "It's similar to how Camila and I met and now we're here. You never know where you're going to go in life."
Taking their time, the pair allowed the music to whisk them down a new path. In 2013, they made the choice to move their recording studio back home into their shared L.A. abode. As a result, creativity could be captured in the moment in its most uninhibited form as they embraced new elements while preserving their own sonic and aural trademarks. "We finally had the time and space to really get creative," continues Hailey. "We didn't have to rush ourselves with any sort of deadlines. Everything was created within these four walls. That's the beauty of being completely independent. We only have to answer to ourselves. We knew we wanted to go in a dance direction, but it doesn't sound like a traditional 'dance' record." Grey agrees, "It's not straightforward. It's very off-the-cuff, and that comes from writing and recording at home. Think of it as avant garde pop with a dance beat. We didn't follow any format."
Instead, scintillating synths drum up rapturous dreamscapes as the girls' harmonies cascade in unison over pulsing beats. Divine hooks pipe through an electronic haze that's bolstered by strains of guitar and bass. That style crystallizes in the first single "Innocence." Also, it makes an important statement for Uh Huh Her. "In the world at this moment, everybody is being bombarded with information and bad news," Grey explains. "You're inundated with it, and it's never positive. Unless you live on a commune with vegetable gardens and puppies running around, you're under a deluge of the world's craziness. That's what the song means to me."
Elsewhere on the album, Hailey and Grey tapped the talents of Ché Pope [Kanye West, Jay-Z] for the nocturnal electro pop lust of "Nuthin' Without Your Love". Punctuated by a slick guitar twang and a haze of keys, it's meant for movement of all kinds. "It's a gritty sexual club song. Think of it as two strangers meeting and leaving together, if you know what I mean," laughs Hailey. "I wanted it to sound soulful at the same time," Grey admits. "I grew up listening to Whitney Houston, and I practiced singing to The Bodyguard soundtrack. I felt like a soul singer in there. There's a weird soul quality to the album."
In addition to collaborating with Pope, the girls also invited Big Black Delta mainman and Grey's former Mellowdrone band mate Jonathan Bates into the fold. These collaborations expanded the scope of the album even more. "It was great to bounce ideas off other people," says Hailey. "It freed us up in some ways to get even more creative." Ultimately though, Uh Huh Her also continue to deliver for everybody who's listening. Grey concludes, "I hope we're giving fans something they can dissect. We don't do things the same way every time. That keeps it interesting. It gives them something to keep coming back to and thinking about."