Loston takes us behind the creation of his debut EP, Echoes
The Perth-based producer walks us through his most ambitious project yet, with some sneaky BTS photos too.
If you've been reading Pilerats for a while or just so happen to be in tune with the bustling Perth electronic scene, chances are you've already come across Loston. The local favourite, notorious for his remixes of London Grammar, James Blake and more back in the 'golden age' of Soundcloud, has been steadily releasing music for a while now, with collaborations with Ta-Ku and the odd single here and there eventually culminating into Echoes, his long-awaited and highly hyped debut EP that arrives today after a long, long time in the making. Featuring past singles including his triumphant, early-2018 return Disappear, it's a six-track odyssey into the emotive, synth-branded sound he's been working towards relentlessly for years now, channelling what's been a reasonably turbulent few years filled with loss into a haunting collection of tracks that really draws to the emotional side of electronica.
Echoes' opening moments - Junction and Holding Pattern - are tender, James Blake-esque works that focus heavily on airy, washed-out instrumentals, only incorporating vocals through slight vocal bites just to add texture to the songs instead overriding them, something that matches the EP's closing moments in Help Me Out and Everybody Wants To Rule The World (the latter of which, however, does feature vocals). These songs - the opening and closing two - are where the EP's emotive backbone is truly envisioned, yet while the central two songs are more 'classic' Loston with their thundering breakdowns, Flume-esque percussive experimentalism and swirling vocals, that emotion can definitely still be felt. "I feel like there is room in modern music for creative expression, rather than trying to work within the constraints of what works for ‘Playlists’, or how it is going to play out at festivals," said Loston on the release last time we met and you can definitely hear it - this stuff wouldn't necessarily work at festivals nor on your big, hook-filled Spotify playlists, but they're brilliant none-the-less.
Dive into the EP below with a track-by-track walkthrough from Loston himself, as well as a few behind-the-scenes photos of the EP's creation.
This actually came together about an hour before a show that I played at GTM festival. I was finalising my set and wanted a big intro track. I had the bones of the song kicking around for a while, but it was more of a trip-hop Unkle sounding arrangement. I have a hard drive full of stuff that is pretty far removed sonically from what I put out as Loston, just things I write to try and push myself creatively, and this was one of them. This ended up informing the rest of the record I think, it has a monotonous feel to it but it really grows into this epic crescendo, I felt that the mood of the song was kind of implied, so I didn’t want it to have any kind of topline.
I had been working on a remix for another artist and written this really epic, self-indulgent five-minute version of it that I had grown really attached to. I didn’t end up sending it off, but the song haunted me for about a year. I ended up just taking the guitar line I had written that the song opens with and building an entire song around it. The irony is that this is the most stripped back track on the whole release and it came out of the most over the top convoluted song I have ever written.
This was my first decision to start singing and sampling my own voice too. When I did the vocal, it was just a demo and I figured that the words were just gibberish fillers to construct the melody, but I came back to it months later and realised that they were very fitting to how I was feeling at the time subconsciously. This song is a conversation with myself, a self-criticism about watching situations pass by without fighting or flying.
This whole song was built out of this glitching Roland Jupiter pattern that I had made when I was trying to figure out how to use the sequencer. I bought one of those JU-03 Roland Boutique re-releases. I tend to record everything when I'm playing with outboard gear and then just come back to it later and listen with fresh ears. There was no specific idea in mind but I found this recording and really liked how this synth sounded like it was trying to break out into melody but was being held back by something. The synth in the midsection goes completely out of time because I couldn’t tempo map the oscillator, but I loved how janky it sounded, again that was from just hitting record and playing around. I did spend about six hours trying to remake that sound and have it sit on the beat, and did it, but it lost the personality of the original.
This was the only vocal that wasn’t mine that I used on the record. It was actually a demo sent to me when I was doing some work with Nyne, which was just an acapella. I sped it up a bunch and chopped it up and just used two phrases from it. Her label was focussing on her as a solo artist and didn’t want to run any features, so when it came time to put it out, I got Brianna Marin to re-sing it.
The outro of this is one of my favourite parts of the record, I was going to keep it to make into something else, but I decided to put this marching outro on it.
HELP ME OUT
I bought a Prophet 08 and was totally out of my depth. I think it features on every song here now that I write it down, but I felt like I kind of should write a whole song with it to justify having it.
This song wasn’t written to a tempo; I just built it off the rhythm of the main chords at the beginning. I really love how instrumental music gives you so much room for interpretation. I feel like this is the most hopeful song on the record and the melodies kind of urge each other to keep going. I didn’t have a beginning middle or end planned for this I kind of just jammed out and ended up with these parts that worked well together.
EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD
I grew up listening to Tears for Fears through my dad. When I used to remix artists I liked to take a short phrase or a specific line and take it out of its original context by changing the chords behind it. We had trouble deciding whether to put this out as a cover or not because it basically just takes such a small portion of the lyrics of the original, I had played with writing different words around it, but I find the opening lines so haunting and beautiful.
My father was diagnosed with Leukemia when I was writing this record and it really forced me to face ideas of mortality and also explore the fact that life can be cruel and destructive without warning. Taking these lyrics out of context of the song and placing them in this arrangement, to me was more a personal statement on the fact that you have no choice in what life has in store for you, and at any moment it can expose you as being the fragile human that you are. I changed the last line to “Even while we sleep, they will find you out”. In the end, we leave this world, mostly without any say in how or when. Death exposes us all as human, and while there will be beauty in reflection, when writing this song and in writing this now, I am not yet ready to see any bright side to tragedy.
Follow Loston: FACEBOOK