The Controversy
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The Controversy

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Alternative Pop




"KCRW Today's Top Tune"

LA duo The Controversy play electronic art pop, laced with unusual melodies and a psychedelic ambiance. Today's Top Tune is "Two Voices" from their CD, Don't Count on Me. - KCRW

"Bandcamp - New and Noteworthy"

Moody pop music from LA that's turning heads with subtle beats, throttled guitar riffs, and shiny synths. Keep an eye out for The Controversy! - Bandcamp

"Yahoo! Music Song Premiere: The Controversy Unveils ‘Two Voices (Night Version)’"

Los Angeles-based band the Controversy have been busy reworking their already edgy pop hit “Two Voices,” which has been featured as KCRW’s Today’s Top Tune. The band pumps new life into the groovy tune as “Two Voices (Night Version)” introduces a booming bass line and further adds to their already sophisticated mix of electronica and psychedelic rock.

Yahoo Music is excited to debut the remix for fans to experience.
If you’d like to keep up with the Controversy’s schedule, check here. - Yahoo! Music

"“Queen Of Chinatown”: A Musical Tale From The Controversy"

Hey, Bono. This is how you release free music! Yeah, I said it. Free music with a simple trade of your email will get you the new single from The Controversy on their official website.

“Queen of Chinatown” is the latest single from The Controversy who we had a chance to chat with in issue #7. Fast forward a year and a half and they’re back with their own style of melancholy electro-pop that is sure to tickle your eardrums. “Queen of Chinatown” has some slow methodical synth that leaves the lyrics to do the story telling of what appears to be a boy out of place in the daylight hours but at night is the true star of the dark.

If you’re new to The Controversy, where have you been? Laura Vall’s vocals have the power to pierce your soul as you can really feel the darkness of what the “Queen of Chinatown” feels once the sun rises. It is a true talent that can convey raw emotion through vocals. Music in ancient times was used as a form of storytelling. There is no secret that these narrators do it well. As with many of the artists we feature, if you like what they offer for free, we highly encourage you to purchase their music! - FourCulture Magazine

"Start Your Weekend With The Controversy's Luxxury Remix"

It’s an immutable law of the music universe that almost everything sounds better with a funk bass line and disco beat underneath it, and this remix of Los Angeles electronic trio The Controversy‘s “Two Voices” by LUXXURY is no exception.

“I thought the song might sound interesting as a mellow, melancholy disco tune,” LUXXURY, the producer, known for his The Eagles edits, among others, explains. “So I built a completely new song under the vocal, retaining only the original vocals and looping some of the synths to create a mysterious gurgling bed of sound against the smoothness of the disco.”

“We love the fun summer disco vibe that Luxxury brought to our song, The Controversy’sLaura Vall says. “The fact that he isolated Thomas’ voice and made ‘Don’t give in’ the hook, was very refreshing to us.”

Check it out, and the original track, below. - Bullett


Thomas Hjorth and Laura Vall, collectively The Controversy, talk coming to America, their influences, and finding a new sound for their second LP. - By Daniel Barron

“Let it out, howl at the night,” belts Laura Vall on “Two Voices,” the opening track of The Controversy’s new album Don’t Count On Me. Ethereal and energetic, it’s a catchy anthem to self-expression, a fist-pump that passionately cries out the universal desire to be seen, to be known, to be heard.
It was the universal language of music that brought Barcelona-native Vall to come together with Danish guitarist Thomas Hjorth in 2010. The resulting partnership resulted in the well-received 2012 debut Real. But having cracked their knuckles learning to produce an album the art-pop duo had bigger plans in mind for their sophomore effort.
Two years later, their triumphant follow-up retains the otherworldly quality that marked their first album while supercharging it with driving pop melodies and psychedelic ambiance that recalls Massive Attack, Portishead, and St. Vincent. It’s an appropriately stirring sound for The Controversy, one that signals them as a band to watch.
They will be seen, they will be known, they will be heard.

What compelled the both of you to come to the US?
Thomas Hjorth: I came out here in ’98. I went to a musician’s institute. Denmark is a very small community. Very good musicians come out of there but I just felt like trying something else. I was in Boston for a year before that, then I went to Berkeley. I thought I was going to be in LA for a year, but I’m still here [laughs].
Laura Vall: I came from Spain to study for a year to see what’s up and try something different. And you know? I liked it and things started popping up and I started working with people here. I’ve still been here after six years.

How long did it take to for LA to feel like home?
Laura: There is a weird cultural shock. I came here to study and I thought, “Alright, I’m here for a little bit.” My English was not great and so you go towards the Spanish people. So we had a community we called Little Spain, but then all of the sudden the visas started to run out and people had to go back to Spain. Everyone wanted to stay. I saw a lot of good opportunities and I wanted to stay here, but after they all left it was really hard. That was when I met you, actually [points to Thomas]. Then it got better. It’s important to find a new family to make a home with.
Thomas: I’ve seen a lot of people who just come here for a year from Europe and it’s almost like you have to stay longer than a year in order to really settle in.
Laura: Oh my god, definitely.
Thomas: I think the first three years were super hard. You don’t have a working permit, you can’t really work. It took a while for me to feel at home. And then the language thing.
Laura: And the culture, because you don’t understand the jokes. Your humor may not translate.
Thomas: I was like, “I swear I’m funny in my own language.” [laughs] I’ve said that many times.
Laura: I know! You can’t express yourself, it feels very hard. I think it was after the second time that I went back to Spain that it started to feel like, “Oh, now this feels a bit weird.” Even after two years it was, “Whoah, that doesn’t feel like home as much as I remember.”

You both met during the production of the first Controversy album, Real, back when it was supposed to be Laura’s solo act. Can you describe the process of working together for the first time?
Laura: Oh my god, it was awesome [laughs]. I’ve been in bands since I was little and it’s hard, you know? It’s like a marriage. When there are four people and not one of them is the leader there are always people who put more into it than others, that are more invested and work harder. Or there are creative differences. It’s very hard to find people that really connect with what you want to say. The last band that I had didn’t end up well.
So I just said, “Fuck it, I’m gonna do my thing and I wanna do it solo.” But I’m a singer and I play piano. And that’s it. I didn’t know how to play guitar or produce or how to do any of that. So I met this guy, this audio engineer teacher. He came to me and said, “I like what you do, I like how you sing. Show me if you have some stuff, it would be awesome to work together.” I gave him my stuff, which was rough vocals and pianos, super minimal tracks. He helped me find people, but it’s a process. I didn’t quite know what I wanted, sound-wise, I didn’t have a clear vision.
It took awhile to find the right people, because we had to hire drummers and bass players and guitarists. This Danish friend of mine and the producer, Medhi [Hassine], said, “Oh, let’s talk to them,” because Medhi knew that Jasper, the drummer, was always working with this Danish bass player and guitar player. This was after we had been through two or three other people and were saying, “People aren’t getting it, it’s not right.” So I was really frustrated. It had been about six months of trying stuff and no one was getting it. I was like, “Am I weird for not being able to communicate it?” So I explained what I was thinking to the drummer, gave him the tracks, and [Thomas] worked on it with him. I never saw them together. All of the sudden the guitar track came in and I was like, “Yes, finally! Someone that gets it!” It was such a connection and I wanted to see who that guy was that finally understood what I wanted.
So I found Thomas on Facebook, as stupid as it sounds. We started talking and working together. First he was just playing guitar, he didn’t even want to produce. By then time the album was done, [Thomas] was as involved as Medhi or me. At that point it didn’t make sense, “Why is this still under my name?” So then it became something we made together. Our first album has a very different sound.
Thomas: Some of the songs we wrote together, including the title song “Real.” But we had to find the sound. I came from the world of rock and alternative and Laura came from pop and soul. But something cool came out of it. We got a good response from it. Then, when we did this new album, all of the sudden it feels like, “Now we know what we want.”

Do you two have similar music tastes?
Thomas: I would say so. We agreed on a lot, which made it easy.
Laura: Oddly enough, even though we come from different parts of the world, different experiences, we kind of have the same vision when it comes to music. And now we’ve been working together for about five years so when I try to express an idea he already knows what it is. So we’re really in-sync when it comes to that.

You list your influences as Portishead, Bjork, Beck, Massive, Attack, St. Vincent…all artists that I love. Those qualities are definitely more present in Don’t Count On Me. Did you collectively say, “Let’s do something more like that?”
Thomas: I always loved Massive Attack and then we found St. Vincent together, saw her at Coachella. Beck we both loved a lot. So there are certain bands we agreed on.
Laura: I don’t think it was a conscious decision. “Let’s do this.” A lot of it has to do with what you listen to and what you go through in life. This just happened to be the space that we were in. Also, we knew more of what we were doing. With the first one we were hands-on, but we didn’t really know what we were doing. With this new one it feels like exactly what we wanted to say.

Is it reflective of the headspace you’re in during 2014 rather than 2010, as well? “Let’s make something more fun and danceable.”
Thomas: We just wanted to make something that would work better at festivals. The first album was a little more dark and came from the space that Laura was in when she wrote the songs. All of the sudden it was, “What do we have to write about? What can we give to the world now?” And we found ourselves in this new electronic sound.
Laura: We always wanna try different things and experiment. Just so we won’t be bored. I didn’t want to do another Real. “Let’s do something that we don’t know how to do that’s fun and experimental,” instead of starting with a piano melody, which is how I wrote the first album. Now we would start with a synth line or a drum beat.
Thomas: Half of the songs were created with the drums first, which is such a different way to do it. Therefore, it felt so fresh to us.

Who contributes the most lyrically?
Laura: Lyrics are mostly me.
Thomas: Here’s a scenario for when we sit and write: I’m sitting over a computer, I’m good at coming up with synth lines and beats. I’ll create the basic idea. While I’m doing that Laura will sit and listen and come up with ideas. Usually she comes up with most of the lyrics and then I’ll say, “No, that’s no good, do that better.”
Laura: He pushes me [laughs]. He can be honest!
Thomas: It works well like that. She’s better with words, better with lyrics.
Laura: [Thomas] just has the patience to find something from nothing and then when I hear something I really like I’ll say, “Yes! This!”
Thomas: It’s interesting how we’ve progressed after working together for five years. Laura will come over to the computer and won’t have to say anything. I’ll just kind of leave and then she takes over. Then I’ll come back. We just know when it’s right for each other to come in.
Laura: I’ll have a song looping in my headphones for two hours and I’ll try to get outside of myself and think, “What are the emotions that I want to convey? What do I want to say and how do I want to say it?” I go into a trance and then I’ll hand what I’ve got to Thomas and say, “What do you think?”

So, Laura, you’ll just say, “I want to do a song called ‘Queen of Chinatown’ about someone who imagines himself as a drag queen,” and Thomas will say, “Okay, let’s figure it out”?
Laura: [laughs] Yes! For that one that’s exactly how it happened!
Thomas: Sometimes not. For instance, “Neon Sign” just came from me working around with a beat and trying things. I had this idea in my heads that I wanted to do, but it had nothing to do with the lyrics. With “Queen of Chinatown,” [Laura] came home and literally told me a story about how she had been out in Chinatown in this club and there was this guy who kind of owned the club at night. And he was a drag queen. And he came there, and his friends were there, and he loved it. She was kind of starting to imagine how hard his life must be outside of this club. If you’re a drag queen or you’re a crossdresser or so many things that are taboo in the real world. So we said, “Oh, that’s cool,” and then one night we wrote, recorded, and mixed the song in about five hours. So we do that, once in awhile, where there’s an idea and then a spark. But there’s no formula.

Do you each have a favorite track from the new album? One that has special meaning?
Thomas: I think the one that’s most special to me is “Queen of Chinatown.” It really took us in a new direction. And it came so naturally. It’s what kind of set the tone of the album.
Laura: I have a soft spot for “Queen” for the same reasons. But I really have a thing for “Luna,” because that song is in Spanish and I’ve been meaning to do and song in Spanish. There’s a lot of Spanish pop-rock that I don’t like. And the lyrics are so stupid. But the language is so beautiful and I really like the poetry in Spanish and the flamenco, because the lyrics are so poetic and beautiful. I said, “Yeah, I wanna do something like that.” I wanted to make a poem in Spanish and then turn it into a song. That song actually came lyrics first. We didn’t have anything.
Thomas: Sometimes we’ll have a piano idea, like with “You Know.” That started as a piano song.

the controversy band
Don’t Count On Me was two years of your lives. Are you feeling, “Now I can finally thaw out and relax” or “What am I going to do with my life”?
Thomas: We’ve been buried in a cave for doing this and all of the sudden you’re like, “Omigod,” the panic. “What do I do?” And all of the sudden we have to play these songs live. It was easier with the other album where it was actually a band recording it. But when it’s done in a computer it’s like, “How are we gonna do this?” It’s been a challenge.
Laura: Especially “Thirty Horses Gently Weeping.” That’s changed a lot.
Thomas: We’re basically doing a remix of the song to make it fit into a live setting, like Radiohead did with Kid A. We just want to have fun with it and be okay that it’s not the same version.
Laura: That one changed the most. The others are just, “How am I gonna do this?” with four people? I don’t have thirty guitar tracks I just have one guy. You have to be really creative.

Any rejected band names?
Thomas: Yes.
Laura: It’s so hard because everything is taken!
Thomas: The day when The Controversy came up it made sense. It’s not really for any specific reason, but it creates a little stir within people. It’s funny the reaction we got from it. And we liked that. It’s not like we’re the most controversial band.
Laura: I think it’s more about the feeling that we have. We don’t want to settle for anything, we want to try different things. I never want to hold anything back with what we’re saying or the lyrics. If I want to talk about something I’ll talk about it. We worked on this music video for “Queen of Chinatown,” actually, and- same thing, we just don’t want to hold back on anything. Some people are gonna be offended, it’s gonna push some buttons-
Thomas: We like to stir things. We think it’s healthy.
Laura: That’s why the title made sense. We are who we are and we’re gonna say what we’re gonna say. - YAY! LA Magazine


Los Angeles based band ​The Controversy have reworked the already edgy pop hit “Two Voices” which has been featured as KCRW’s Today’s Top Tune.
The band pumps new life into the groovy tune as “Two Voices (Night Version)” introduces a booming bass line and further adds to their already sophisticated way of producing a “seamless mash up of electronica with psychedelic rock; infectious pop songs which merge the melodies of 80’s Depeche Mode and OMD with a touch of The Knife and Metronomy.”

This remix is another strong addition to the The Controversy’s strong art-pop aesthetic. - Indie Pulse Magazine

"Best 2014 Singles"

#1 The Controversy - Queen Of Chinatown - U&I Magazine

"Ears Wide Open: The Controversy"

The two latest singles from the Controversy take a more arty approach than most of the synth-pop duos raising our blood-sugar levels. At the very least, “Queen of Chinatown” (especially) and “Two Voices” carry an air of sophistication that “Real” – the 2012 album from the twosome of Laura Vall and Thomas Hjorth – only hinted at. The pulsing synths and clickety-clack rhythms imagine the Controversy’s “Queen” as a tortured soul living a double life. The Controversy’s sophomore full-length, “Don’t Count On Me,” is planned for a Feb. 10 release. - Buzzbands LA


Following up the monarchical reign on “Queen of Chinatown“, LA’s The Controversy shares the night dialogue whispers of “Two Voices”. The pop duo of Laura Vall and Thomas Hjorth elaborate on the hushed harmonic trailing echo of hummed vocals that play about like siren horns that soothe. The connection between hearts, tongues, discussions, subjects, and predicates is provided by production value that turns lost voices looking for one another in the dark into a catchy number. Laura and Thomas join us for round of discussion, after the following listen:

What sort of controversies brought about synergistic bond of The Controversy together for you two?

There’s always been a really good synergy and understanding between us, we connect really well and rarely disagree when it comes to music. We had a really strong music connection from the moment we met, so starting to make music together came very naturally.

How does this synergy blend into the synthetic meets real worlds of “Two Voices”?

We really like to combine both worlds, we really enjoy the freedom of the electronic sounds and its endless possibilities but we also love analog sounds and the power and life that real acoustic instruments bring to the table.

In what ways do you feel that LA has contributed and influenced your creativity?

A city like LA is a very strong force all of us Angelinos know really well, this city can make you or brake you, or both at the same time. It’s tough out there and the passion, dreams and struggles impact all aspects of our life. LA has changed us and continues to do so every day, we evolve and grow up around it and so does our music, probably in more ways that we can imagine.

Latest and greatest reports from the LA scenes?

We are lucky to live in a city that always has something amazing and inspiring going on. There’s so much great music and art brewing in its streets and clubs, so many creative and inspiring people that motivate you to keep on improving yourself. That’s exactly why we are very excited to present our new live show before the end of the year, we are working hard on creating something new, with a new band and a new sound. We want to provide our audience with not only a concert but a full experience, we want to transport them to The Controversy’s world, show them around and hopefully they’ll continue to share it with us when they leave the venue.

Next big moves and releases for The Controversy?

We are really excited to release our second album Don’t Count On Me on February 2015. We’ve been working hard to offer our fans something new and fresh, a different sound than what they known us for in our first album, Real. We are also working on new music videos and hopefully a tour next year.

Listen to more from The Controversey via Soundcloud. - Impose Magazie

"The Controversy is a musical force to be reckoned with."

In 2011, we featured solo artist, Laura Vall. Since then, Vall has formed a new group, The Controversy.

“We’ve decided to do the name change because of the increasing involvement of my guitar player, co-writer and co-producer Thomas Hjorth,” said Vall. “It felt weird that we were being marketed under my name when we were doing everything together.”

The change has been good for Vall. Winner of Artist of the Year 2012 and nominated for Best Album of the Year, Best Rock Artist of the Year and Best Pop Artist of the Year at the Artist In Music Awards 2012, The Controversy is a musical force to be reckoned with.

Although they have received much acclaim, the band refuses to rest on their laurels. In addition to releasing music videos for their singles “Real” and “Little Star,” they are also working on a new video for their song “So Low,” recording their second album, and performing live gigs around the Los Angeles area.

To better understand what makes The Controversy one of the hottest indie bands, you need to listen to their music. “Real” (right click and select ‘Save link as…’) is a moving song that is driven by Hjorth’s powerful guitar riffs and punctuated by Vall’s sultry voice.

Their debut album, “Real” (under Laura Vall) is available for purchase on Amazon. If you’d like to connect with The Controversy, check them out on their website, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. - Six String Theories


Two Voices (Night Version) - single

Two Voices (LUXXURY remix) - single

Don't Count On Me - LP

Two Voices - Single

Queen Of Chinatown - Single

You Know - Single

Real - LP

Speak To Me - Single



Influenced by artists like David Bowie, St Vincent, Radiohead, M83 and Massive Attack, The Controversy's music has been described as a "seamless mash up of electronica with psychedelic rock; infectious pop songs which merge the melodies of 80's Depeche Mode and OMD with a touch of The Knife and Metronomy."

Based in Los Angeles, CA, The Controversy is a collaborative artist project between Thomas Hjorth (Denmark), Laura Vall (Spain) and Amy White (US/Spain).

 The Controversy's latest album, "Don't Count On Me," has been named an "electronic art-pop masterpiece" by FourCulture Magazine. Their single "Two Voices" was featured as KCRW's Today's Top Tune, and U&I Magazine named "Queen of Chinatown" #1 Single of the Year. Yahoo Music, Bullett Media, Bandcamp, and The Deli Magazine (amongst many others) have also featured and premiered their work.

Band Members