Hear First: Retail Space’s In The Lotia

The premiere of the duo's visual album, plus an essay on it from its director Judith Posey.

I had been listening to In The Lotia for months before my initial meeting with Izzy and Jacob. When we finally sat down, before discussing anything else, I asked them: “What is ‘The Lotia’?” I imagined it to be a gritty bar in their college town, a jalopy of a car they drove across the country one summer, or a strange desert dwelling where the record was conceived. But it wasn’t any of those things — it wasn’t anything physical at all. Izzy and Jacob explained The Lotia as a state of being; a liminal world they had imagined, where the listener is nowhere and everywhere, all at once. A fleeting place with only one rule: No one gets to stay forever. 

Izzy and Jacob have a kind of non-verbal way of communicating that comes from an all- encompassing partnership. They are difficult to separate and it translates into their music in a way that can range from amorous to nearly haunting. When I listened to In The Lotia, I felt the dimensions of that relationship. As we brainstormed ideas for the visual album, I kept returning to this idea of a partnership and what happens when that bond is threatened. I wanted to put Izzy in one place and Jacob in another. 

Water was a dominant motif from the beginning. The previous fall, we shot the video for Retail Space’s debut single “Getting Older” mostly underwater. I loved the distance you get from shooting underwater. The human eye can’t see through water the way a camera can, which creates a feeling of surreal intimacy with your subjects. While we shot “Getting Older” in the relative safety of pools and a shallow lake, for this project I wanted a space that felt dangerous and vast so we could pull Izzy and Jacob apart. Water would be the enemy in our narrative. 

While responsible for so much life, the ocean is also capable of claiming life back in an instant. The human body goes through stages when it drowns. There is panic, terror, and pain. But survivors also talk of clarity and calm, and often of an intense euphoria. These paradoxes have always fascinated me. We are made of water and yet we cannot survive within it. Drowning takes minutes, but the experience can feel like hours. It seems to be this strange, borderless kind of world that wants to release you and to keep you at the same time. With this in mind, I envisioned a film that felt like a descent, as if each song was pulling us deeper and deeper into The Lotia. 

We planned all along to shoot in South Florida on a small west coast island called Boca Grande. Florida is full of contrasts, most of which boil down to something sublime butting up against something dangerous. This was the feeling we [hoped] to translate visually. I wanted to use a tight color palette for each song, guiding the viewer down through the spaces of The Lotia. While scouting, these spaces started coming to life. We connected these locations to Izzy and Jacob, to their life together in this fictional world. We wanted to take the cliché of “my life flashed before my eyes” and draw out those flashes and flesh into the world around them while still maintaining a surreal maze for Izzy and Jacob to travel through. 

From day one, this project forced us all into new depths of collaboration. Izzy and Jacob have entrusted me with adding visuals to their music — music which needs no addition. Simply listening to the album brings you places all on its own. There are infinite Lotias. I was honored to help create this one. 

— Judith Posey

You can catch the live premiere of In The Lotia — plus a multimedia stage adaptation — at the Sultan Room in Bushwick, Brooklyn on Sunday September 29.  

Retail Space is Isabelle and Jacob Rosse. Their latest album, In The Lotia, is out September 20, 2019.