San Fermin, a band with a name that gives a nod to Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises via the Spanish celebration with the same name, is the brainchild of Ellis Ludwig-Leone, a Brooklyn composer and songwriter. He wrote the songs on his debut album after graduating from Yale and spending six weeks living alone in the mountains in Canada. Although he writes the songs by himself, he performs them with other musicians. In the past he has worked with the women of Lucius and his main male vocalist is Allen Tate, but there are at least eight who regularly work and travel with him.
In his music, Ludwig-Leone seeks to find words that describe the complexity of human experience. The album, which has distinct songs despite their blending characteristics, analyzes themes such as love, anxiety, and dreaming. He explores the range and complication of emotion by acknowledging the contradictory nature of that emotion and how it is often confused. He writes in the song “Sonsick”,
I found me a hopeless case, and resolved to love
Maybe we can find a decent place when I’m old enough
Found love in an empty gaze, tried to fix it up
I found me a hopeless case…
This song communicates the troubles of love, while looking forward to a future where hope can be found. He expresses the conflict between desperation and anticipation that can exist simultaneously in an experience. In this case, the love the narrator experiences both troubles him and gives him reason to hope for resolution. This idea also appears in the song “Torero” when he says,
I’m dancing for your pleasure,
I’m falling for your pain
I fight for your attention
Each night until you’re sane
In this one as well, the singer struggles between conflicting facets of his emotions. To the speaker, experiences are not easily definable in simple terms, but complex and nuanced. Through this understanding, he is able to portray perception, especially of love, in a fuller sense.
~ Avery Johnson