AM & Shawn Lee: Creating Albums on Different Continents

David Burlacu

"If we did get in the studio together, would our records completely suck?" asks AM, one-half of indie duo.

The process behind avant-pop duo AM & Shawn Lee's forthcoming sophomore album, "La Musique Numerique," was essentially the same as the creation of their 2011 debut "Celestial Electric": AM stayed in Los Angeles, Lee holed up in London, and never did the two set foot in the same studio. But "La Musique Numerique," out May 7 on Park The Van Records, bursts with collaborative energy, as Lee's nimble arrangements breathe easy under his counterpart's heartfelt crooning.

"It's not a traditional way of making a record," AM tells Billboard. After they began collaborating in 2011, the U.K.-based multi-instrumentalist and indie artist began e-mailing each other "fully formed ideas," learning how to digest each other's raw creative material.

"[The first album] was one of these situations where I had never made a record like this, and I was like, 'Well, you have to be really trusting of the person you're working with if you're just going to do your thing and throw it over to the person,'" AM recalls. For the follow-up to "Celestial Electric," Lee would send over pieces of songs -- or, occasionally, full backing tracks -- and eventually a lush, 12-song indie-pop LP was birthed. "It's exactly the same process, but it's just become more streamlined and even easier," says AM.

"La Musique Numerique" might have been made across continents, but the new album gives AM & Shawn Lee another chance to link up and hone their respective stage crafts. After opening for artists like Phoenix and Thievery Corporation, the duo will embark on a headlining tour across North America, beginning June 13 in Portland, Oreg. AM says that a handful of "Numerique" songs were performed during their last tour, and that intense rehearsals will dial in the fresh tracks. The frontman is looking forward to joining Lee in real life for the tour, but doesn't expect that the pair will ever make an album while staying in such close proximity.

"Getting us in the same city at the same time to make a record… I don't know if it will ever happen," he says, adding with a laugh, "And I wonder, if we did get in the studio together, would our records completely suck?"