Back in October of last year, Loretti played at Stories Books and Cafe in Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood, finishing the set with “Los Feliz.” As the band played, animator Maggie Noble rode her skateboard through the alley behind the venue and heard the song. “She came in and she came up to my keyboardist after the show and was like, I love that,” says Aimie Lovett Sommer, the singer and songwriter behind Loretti.
That chance encounter would result in the music video for “Los Feliz,” out on August 14. In the clip, Noble incorporates Sommer’s lyrics into a blissful, psychedelic jaunt through new love in one corner of L.A.
The song itself was a long time in the making. It was one of the first that Sommer, who released Loretti’s debut album The First Arrest in 2011, had written after taking a couple years off from making music. The chorus manifested after her fourth date with the guy who would become her husband.
“I piecemeal songs together,” says Sommer. “It’s very rare that I’ll sit down and write a whole song.” As she worked on it, she decided that it should be about their first few weeks of dating – “the little breakthrough moments that made us really want to focus on each other,” she says.
Sommer worked out the song live as Loretti evolved from a solo project to a band, and it became a fan favorite. “Los Feliz” was recorded as part of an EP, which is now being released track-by-track, at Moosecat Recording Studio between April and June of 2019.
When Sommer first met up with Noble to talk about a video collaboration, she took the animator on a drive through Los Feliz. “I explained to her where each lyric came from and the memories I had there and we basically storyboarded the video with that first meeting and I’ve been working with her ever since,” she says. “She did an amazing job under a lot of pressure and during a pandemic to get this done for me and I really appreciate it.”
Loretti began as a solo project more than a decade ago, when Sommer was living in Dallas. She had played in bands before, trying out styles from blues and jazz standards to rock projects where she wrote lyrics and melody. “I had always been dissatisfied with anything I had written individually,” she says. Sommer says that she “couldn’t escape” the influence of the music that she heard as a child – mostly soft rock, country gospel and vintage country – that came to her via her parents and older siblings. “Any time I would go to write, that’s what it sounded like to me.”
Sommer tried to resist those influences, but had a change of heart. “I had a good nine months to be in musical solitude and made my peace with it,” she says. ” I decided to lean way into it and embrace it and really develop it.”
The name Loretti is a nod to Coal Miner’s Daughter, the Loretta Lynn biopic starring Sissy Spacek and one of Sommer’s favorite movies. She played around a bit in Dallas and Austin before an unexpected move to Los Angeles. Sommer had intended to relocate to Portland, but a friend who was moving to L.A. urged her to spend a summer in the city. It only took a couple days in town for Sommer to decide that she wanted to stay longer. Even then, though, she was thinking about staying a year and then heading up north. That was a decade ago.
In addition to Loretti, Sommer also co-founded a production company, Softer Sex Productions, with Rose Shawhan of the band Good Witch. The two launched the project at a time when they were coming off of music hiatuses and looking for ways to introduce their bands.
For Sommer, who admits to having been “a little shy” about mingling with the local music community, the project was a way to help get to know other musicians as well. “It really helped me,” she says. “It introduced me to some incredibly talented women and it was a fulfillment for me to go to the shows and be like, I helped put this together.”
Due to the pandemic, Softer Sex shows are on hold indefinitely, since Los Angeles’ live music venues are also closed. For Sommer, who is also a registered nurse, that pause is alright, even though she’s not anticipating a return to the stage anytime soon.
“My real concerns go out to the venues themselves and people who rely on them for income – the talent buyers, the other promoters, where that’s their livelihood [that’s] just completely gone,” she says. “I’m definitely not going to cry for how long it will take us to have our first show because I feel like there are more people where it’s a greater concern for them than for us.”
She adds, “I’m excited to go to their shows first when things do open back up.”
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