Milk International: Lola Marsh is Israel's Golden Duo
To say that Lola Marsh’s Remember Roses album was a labor of love might be the understatement of the century. Between the two of them—and three other bandmates—it took Gil Landau and Yael Shoshana Cohen around four years to complete the debut record, and that’s generous (sometimes, the story goes more like six). For all that work and wait time, Remember Roses had no small set of expectations to overcome this summer. Spoiler alert: they met, and exceeded, all of them.
We sat down on the roof of Milk Studios with the dream Israeli duo—who’s knee deep in one massive global tour to promote their long-awaited record—to talk band chemistry, cherished memories-turned-tracks, and what’s next now that they’ve finally had their official LP debut; peep the full interview below.
Well, I know Remember Roses came out a couple of weeks ago, but what has the reception been like so far?
Gil Landau: Pretty good, I think!
Yael Shoshana Cohen: Yeah, lots of beautiful messages that this album touched them, and all kinds of these messages. I think people have been waiting for this album, because we existed like almost six years without an album, so we toured quite a lot without an album.
Yeah, on that note, I’m surprised this was your first album.
Cohen: Yeah, we never gave something to the audience after the show, you want to give them something.
Landau: We had an EP, but that’s it.
Why did you go so long without putting something out?
Landau: We’re crazy fucks—
Cohen: [Laughs] No, it’s true!
I’m impressed that you kept the fans waiting so long.
Landau: Yeah that’s a mystery, by the way. I don’t know how it works. We’re crazy, but not only crazy—I think it took us time because we were touring and came back to the studio and recording then writing new stuff and wanted to record it, and then back to touring.
Cohen: It was during touring, every time—
Landau: But you know, for me—just this morning I got a message from a really good friend of mine in Israel, and he told me, “Hey man, I’m listening to your album everyday for the last week, and it’s like, amazing you did a great job!” Actually, when people who are close to me say these things, it’s good vibes.
Yeah. Do you feel like there’s a narrative that ties all of the songs together? Like a story that goes through them? Or is it more of a compilation?
Cohen: Some songs go together, some songs—no, but most of the songs are really, they have a nostalgic and cinematic vibe—like it’s from an old movie or something.
Landau: You know, the topics are quite about the same things—I don’t know if to call it a narrative, but we’re talking about the same things. Musically, we really tried to do something diverse, but coherent.
Cohen: Yeah, but still coherent.
Can you talk about what headspace you were in when you were creating it? Where you were mentally and emotionally?
Landau: It changed a lot, because it was so much time.
Cohen: And we’ve been through so many things along the way—
Landau: Like a rollercoaster.
Cohen: So it affected our songs.
Landau: What was the vibe? I think that we grew up during this album, writing and recording. When we started writing everything for this album, we were really—
Cohen: We were not young!
Landau: No, we were not young but we didn’t know what we were doing! It was really like, “Oh my God! Studio!” And then when the time came—we did the shows, and played with the band—
Cohen: We understood things.
Landau: Yeah, we understood better what we want. I have to admit, sometimes it was hard, it was tough, but generally it was a good experience, we learned a lot.
Cohen: Yeah, we learned so much.
So would you say it was a cathartic experience?
Like when you create something and you feel like relieved or—
Landau: Oh, yeah! Catharsis—
Do you feel that way, or do you still feel burdened with the emotions that you had when you were making the album?
Landau: Hmmm. I would use relief, maybe—because we really wanted to set it free, to release it already. So, I wouldn’t say it was catharsis, but I would say relief.
Cohen: More free! Because we were in a loop, and it took us time, and we went back and forth and we were on tour, and we came back and we had a million ideas about this production and this production—
Landau: Yeah, we had a song with something like 24 demos.
Cohen: It sounds like a simple song, right, but we are crazy.
Landau: No no no! I think we wanted it to fit to the rest of the album, so it took us time to do it right.
Cohen: And it’s funny because some things in Lola Marsh are like this [snaps fingers]—like we write the song and it works immediately, and it comes from an instant, like we are on the same page, and we understand each other and work really good together, the chemistry is amazing.
Landau: And then in the studio—
Cohen: And then we want to kill each other! We fight and I want to take it this way, he wants to take it this way.
Landau: Yeah, it’s pretty tough but I think we manage to find the middle—
Cohen: The right balance.
Landau: The right balance, yeah, between us and the band and everything.
Are there any specific songs on the album that are particularly close to your heart, or that you feel especially attached to?
Cohen: Of course. I have “Bluebird” because it’s a song about a dark time, when I always had the dream to be a singer, since I was a child, and I lost my voice and I had a surgery and my voice changed, and it was like, “Shit I don’t believe it.” So, it’s a song about these days. What more? Ah, “Remember Roses” is about the moment that I understood that I wanted to sing. So, I heard Edith Piaf when I was really, really young. Every Saturday, we washed our father’s car and we heard the records and I was like, imagining me on big stages. So, it’s exciting for us. I think it’s your dream too, no, from a young age?
Landau: Absolutely, yeah.
What place do you feel like you’re in now versus before the album came out?
Landau: Well, I don’t know yet, because it was released two weeks ago. But actually we feel already—in the shows, we’ve had like five shows since the album release—and people sing the lyrics and they’re really like, “Yeah, I was listening to you all week!”
Cohen: At last, we have an album.
Well, it sounds like you have very loyal fans.
Landau: Actually, yeah!
To go six years without getting—
Landau: Actually, we met each other almost six years ago, but we really started working seriously, like performing, touring, three and a half years or something like that. Maybe four.
Cohen: Yeah, we were playing as a duo—
Landau: In small places in Tel Aviv, like bars—
Cohen: We didn’t have a label. We wrote songs but we didn’t have a demo, so actually he’s right, three years.
Landau: Four, four, four.
Cohen: Almost four!
Landau: Three or four!
Cohen: Come on!
Landau: Something like that!
Well either way, they stuck with you the whole time.
Do you think the next album will be as long of a process, so many years?
Cohen: I hope not.
Landau: No, I’m sure not. I think the preproduction of the next album will be more precise, I hope.
Cohen: I think we know now what’s the right way to go and—
Landau: With whom to work, with whom not to work, how we want the process to be, how not to fight so much, you know? I think we learned so much from the process, so I hope we will have conclusions about the next album.
So when there’s a disagreement, how do you guys—I mean who wins?
Landau: [Laughs] Who wins? I don’t know! That’s a problem we don’t know yet, we will see in the next album.
Cohen: Sometimes we ask the band because we are five in the band, like, “What do you think? I’n right or he’s right?”
Landau: Yeah, and we’ll do like a vote, or like, “Tell her it’s beautiful! Tell her my version is better!” [Laughs]
Well you guys look like you go together very well.
Cohen: In some ways. But in some ways, we are opposites.
Landau: I think we fight a lot—we fight fight fight fight fight fight—and then, at the evening, “Okay, I’m sorry.” “Okay, I’m sorry too.” We’re really impulsive and crazy people—
Landau: Dramatic, and taking everything—I think because it’s really our dream and it’s really important for us, so we are really dramatic about it, we’re taking it really seriously.
Well, there’s no small decision, everything matters.
Landau: Yeah, actually almost everything matters.
So, now that the album is out, what do you guys have planned for the rest of the year?
Landau: Touring, touring, touring, touring, promo, interviews, and hopefully keep on writing.
Cohen: Writing new materials.
Landau: It’s hard between all of the really tight and busy schedule to just sit down and say, “Okay, let’s write something.”
Cohen: We are tired, we are almost three weeks on tour already, all of Europe.
You’ve already been to all of Europe?
Cohen: Yeah, and now the States and it’s like everyday we’re in a different place.
Landau: Yeah, and in October we have like a huge tour in Europe, and actually July is really busy also. So, maybe—no, September we’ll be busy also.
Landau: I don’t know! And actually we want to take a little vacation but I don’t know if it will—I’m not sure.
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