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Love Inks

Burn letters from previous lovers; use the ashes to make potent love inks.

interview: Tiffany Diane Tso
photo: courtesy of Love Inks

Minimalist pop group Love Inks’ songs seem to be discarded lovers’ letters, scrawled out years before only to be rediscovered. Unsurprisingly, Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s love affair plays an inspirational role to the lyrical content. The band is composed of real life couple Sherry LeBlanc (vocals) and Kevin Dehan (guitar) with a more recent addition Derek Brown on bass.

"We wanted to make music that we wanted to hear but felt wasn't available at the time," said LeBlanc. "We set out to make minimalist music, with a focus on the space between sounds."

Love Inks echoing vocals and oftentimes repetitive lyrics have a hypnotic quality, as if entranced by a siren’s song. We fell in love with Love Inks so fast, it was impossible not to form an interview completely based on love, obsession and first kisses.

Tell me the story of how you met.

Sherry LeBlanc: Kevin and I met for the first time at a benefit for 91.7 KVRX. I was the fundraising director and put together a party called 'Rock and Rollerskate' where bands played on the rink and people could drink and skate. There were a lot of broken arms. Kevin came to promote his band. He was attractive and mean. I was wearing a bad 90s knit hat and a handkerchief for a shirt. Very 'tacky hippie meets poor-man's-Lauryn Hill' kind of vibe.

We didn't meet romantically until a couple years later. We were at a bar called Lovejoys and started talking about pirate radio. We rode bikes to an Andy Warhol exhibit at AMOA. I was attracted to his unique way of thinking. Unbeknownst to me, he was on mushrooms. We've been together almost every day since then.

Fast forward about eight years, and we started Love Inks. Derek Brown joined as the bass player in 2011.

Favorite memory from being on the road?

There's a promoter in Dijon, France named Chantal. She's at the forefront of an amazing music scene there. We played on a boat at sunset and spent the evening at her house drinking wine, playing records and making buttons. She's close with a lot of the young people in the town, and they were in and out of her apartment all night - drinking, dancing, drawing and singing. It changed my idea of who I want to be as an older adult and the level of hospitality I want to provide to people who come to Austin.

My father died a few months before we toured Europe, so some of my favorite times were the long drives. Just looking out the window of a van was incredible. We drove through the Swiss Alps, and I listened to Paul Simon's "Hearts and Bones" over and over. The view was so beautiful that there were tears streaming down my face: waterfalls pouring out of mountainsides, rainbows everywhere you looked, tiny hidden villages, speeding through clouds. We started in sunny summer weather, drove through a rainstorm, a blizzard and ended up in a winter storm. It was mind-blowing to me that something that beautiful could physically exist.

What are "love inks" exactly?

'Love Inks' are inks that can be used to woo a potential lover. The idea came from a book called Magica Sexualis, one of the first printed books on the occult in the US. The chapter titled 'Love Inks' describes burning letters from previous lovers and using the ashes to make potent love inks.

We started in sunny summer weather, drove through a rainstorm, a blizzard and ended up in a winter storm. It was mind-blowing to me that something that beautiful could physically exist.

How do you describe the feeling of love?

I can only describe it as synonyms with listening to a song you love for the first time. For example, when I listen to a Neutral Milk Hotel song and recall the feeling of being very young and wanting to be in love, it's almost better than the feeling of really falling in love. It's a feeling in your gut that hurts in a great way. You know it, I know it, but it's indescribable. True love takes a long time and is actually pretty boring, but true.

Your first kiss?

I kissed my fisted palm during my prepubescent years and wondered when it would happen. My first kiss finally happened when I was fourteen. I took a walk to a park with a boy named BJ. My dad thought his name was hilarious and laughed at us when he came to pick me up. We walked to the park and back to his house. I laid down in his bed; I had braces. He kissed me with his tongue. He had put a Jim Croce record on and "Time In A Bottle" was playing. It was different than kissing my hand. The music was horrible, and I wanted to kiss him again. I thought if I kissed him enough that I could move on to someone with a better name than BJ. I can't listen to "Time In A Bottle" without feeling horrible. 

Would you rather break a heart or have your heart broken?

I would rather break a heart. I have a history of embarrassing myself when my heart is broken.

Happiness is...

Being true to yourself and not feeling bad about it.

Guilty pleasures?

Hmmm... I'm not really guilty about anything I like. Maybe Martha Stewart is what you would call a guilty pleasure? She's a genius but people don't seem to like her, but I don't feel guilty about it. If people have a hang up about it, that's their problem.

+ Love Inks website