Ships In The Night, a one-woman electronic band out of New York City, incorporates a hypnotic blend of harmony and lush synth with often dark and emotional lyrics. Alethea Leventhal, originally from Charlottesville, Virginia has been on the road with the support of Solemn Shapes and The Palace of Tears to present her latest album, 2021’s Latent Powers. Dubbed the Sun Spells Tour, the package show is set to arrive at Macon’s JBA for a FREE performance on June 24th.
MM- How long have you been doing music?
AL- I’ve been doing music for a long time. I started singing and playing some instruments when I was really young. I started hitting guitar around twelve or thirteen, but Ships In The Night started a lot later, kind of around 2014, so it’s been about seven years now.
Yeah, you have a good-sized catalog, so seven years makes sense. But your most recent work, Latent Powers was released last fall with Cleopatra Records– how was that?
It’s been great. I signed with them during the summer of 2021. It’s pretty interesting that labels like to get things out before November because anything after that will be considered kind of a holiday album, so there was a really tight deadline. I worked on the material for Latent Powers through the summer and was able to get it out in October.
Was the process of releasing it the same as what you’d previously experienced with an independent release?
Yeah, it was a bit different. There’s a lot more that was way more official and on a timeline, but also, I still did most of it myself as I have always done. I got together all the art and everything like that, while they handled the technical aspects of it. There was a lot more communication that was necessary because of that, so I guess it was both easier and harder in some ways.
When you compose for Ships In The Night do you do it all by yourself?
Yeah, I do it all. I write the music and the lyrics, almost all the production. Occasionally, if I want a sound that I might can’t get with my equipment, I have friends that will let me use theirs, so I’ll do that. I do the mixing by myself. The only thing I don’t do is the mastering.
Well, how did your sound develop? Have you always been interested in making dark, atmospheric electronic music?
For sure! I grew up listening to The Cure, Joy Division, Bowie, Depeche Mode… I love Kate Bush, so I grew up listening to a lot of darkwave. It’s funny when I started Ships In The Night, it just felt really natural. I wasn’t really thinking, “What kind of music am I going to make or what aesthetic will it be?” It just felt like I knew what was already going to happen and I didn’t have to force anything.
What are some of your biggest creative influences?
Definitely Depeche Mode with their melodic almost poppy yet dark sounds. Their songs are super catchy. But I also like Kate Bush a lot. I love Twin Peaks, so that has always been an influence with that darker, kind of moody, atmospheric stuff. My biggest vocal influence is probably Liz Fraser from Cocteau Twins.
Different sites online and fans have called your music “darkwave” and “dreampop”. It’s always hard to nail a sound to a genre but I was just curious about how you describe your music. It’s certainly a sound of your own!
I usually call it simply dark, atmospheric electronic. Dreampop doesn’t quite encapsulate everything with it. It is a super-human tendency to want to categorize everything, but I kind of like that people pretty much just make up what they think it’s called.