EP Walkthrough: Saint Lane goes deep on his debut EP, If I Leave You In The Fire
After making an arrival last year, the Gold Coast-via-New Zealand rapper encapsulates his charm with a rich, six-track EP.
For someone who was only just labelled an act to watch around this time last year, Gold Coast-based, New Zealand-raised rapper Saint Lane has been quick to make 2020 his own. Since emerging with his 2019-released debut single Compliment My Shirt, the multi-faceted musician has constantly furthered himself and his sound, exploring new edges of his work with every release. He moves between fiery rap and more gentle, reflective work at the drop of the hat; each sound bolstered with a distinctive charm that's become synonymous with the rapper's year, and the win after win he's achieved.
And yeah, he most certainly has won this year. Despite everything being thrown at Saint Lane throughout the year, he's edged forward as an act reflective of a next-generation for Australian hip-hop and the multi-dimensional, wide-ranging sounds that accompany every sub-section of this world, drawing from a long, varied list of influences to create a sound that reflects this dexterity. Take his 2019 singles alone, for example: Compliment My Shirt being an explosive, sample-filled burst of exciting rap, while Pitbull Type Beat is more subtle and relaxed, capturing a sound synonymous with acts like Chance The Rapper.
On his new-arriving debut EP If I Leave You In The Fire, all of these different parts of Saint Lane come together in an introductory 20-odd minutes that doesn't just present his music and his sound, but also the musician behind it and the stories and experience that inform his lyrics - all of which being laid out on If I Leave You In The Fire. It's six tracks that really capture his versatility, flipping between sounds and textures while he analyses the complexities of life, death and grief - a mix experienced by Saint Lane after the unexpected death of his father in 2019.
"If I Leave You In The Fire is a story of loss, grief and moving forward," he says on the record, which arrived last week. "“In 2019 my father died completely unexpectedly from acute pancreatitis with no previous health issues. I had less than an hour to make a decision for my dad to have a surgery to save his life, however he died during the surgery and I immediately felt a feeling beyond guilt. I felt solely responsible for the death of my dad and watching my family mourn, I believed I was to blame for our loss. The EP covers the stories and emotions of the most difficult time of my life."
In turn, If I Leave You In The Fire is rich with emotion, and intimate, personal reflection. The Fire uses hazy, subtle melodies to reflect on sibling relationships before it distorts into a My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy-esque warp of experimentalism; When Did We Grow Up? enlists Robbie Miller for a story about betrayal felt by Saint Lane after the death of his father, brought to life with a similar, indie-rap-like charm to what you'd expect from Childish Gambino. The Family is the EP's most vulnerable and emotionally intense moment - and you can hear that through its sound - while Altar of the Heartless dives into alcoholism and addiction.
It's a release that really captures Saint Lane's journey to this point, done so in a way that isn't afraid to embrace or even encourage vulnerable, emotional thinking, something the EP really tackles amongst its underlying darkness. It's an EP that encourages you to look into yourself, commemorate the high points of life and celebrate your family and friends while you can, shown through acute lyricism that brings you into Saint Lane's life and the trauma he dissects through his music.
It's a powerful listen that you can hear below, and underneath that, go further into the EP's themes with a track by track walkthrough from Saint Lane breaking down If I Leave You In The Fire one song at a time.
The Fire is about a fallout between a close friend of mine and his brother and as a whole idea is about the separation of siblings over time, the overall theme of the project is moving forward. Leaving relationships and situations "in the fire" so to speak. Sonically we wanted to create the musical child of Tame Impala and Kanye West. I wanted to open the project with The Fire because I feel like I've been baptised by fire creating this record.
In some TV shows, they'll have a season recap at the start of the episode, I feel like The Water is a narrator saying "previously on Lane's World", though it was written in 2017 it still rings true, recapping parts of my journey leading up to If I Leave You In The Fire. In baptism water is used because you can't breathe, the resurgence from the water is the "breath of new life". The Water tells the Lane Muir story, the Lane Muir story is left in the fire to give birth to Saint Lane.
WHEN DID WE GROW UP?
When Did We Grow Up is the story of a situation another being left in the fire. In 2019 following the death of my dad I experienced a betrayal from three of my closest friends, a story told in the form of this Robbie Miller collaboration. Citing influence from Paul Simon and David Gray in production elements and songwriting this track is one of my most personal cuts.
In 2019 my father unexpectedly passed away. At his funeral none of his family came; it was a confronting reality that I did not have a support network, but rather than be bitter and twisted I chose to leave the trauma of watching his last moment, the trauma of being alone in the situation and the entire situation in the fire. Not forgetting but moving forward.
ALTAR OF THE HEARTLESS
Altar of the Heartless is the "sequel" to When Did We Grow Up. Following the events of my dad's death and my friends attempting to take advantage of my situation I spiralled out of control and became dependent on drugs and alcohol. I thought if I ignored my reality it would go away but discovered that it's easier to self-destruct than face the truth. Addiction and depression are the next element left in the fire.
Hickeys is a breakup song. I've been blessed to not experience a romantic separation during this period, but I know there are fans of mine who are experiencing losses of their own in whatever form life presents them in. Hickeys is a stripped back, breezy way to close the record. This is the "everything is falling apart but I'm still standing" moment, a positive outlook for the future. If I survive this I can survive anything.
Follow Saint Lane: FACEBOOK