Sam Eastgate, savant virtuose derrière LA Priest, fait partie de ces artistes qui ne s’attrapent pas facilement. Ce n’est pas qu’il n’a rien à dire, loin de là, mais l’ex-frontman de Late Of The Pier préfère laisser parler sa musique. On ne pourra lui en vouloir tant celle-ci est singulièrement géniale.
Notre chemin avait déjà croisé le sien au printemps 2015 à Toulon, pour le Midi Festival. Sam sortait alors d’un de ses tout premiers concerts en tant que LA Priest. Quelques photos, des sourires, quelques mots mais pas de long entretien. Alors, lorsqu’une courte fenêtre d’échange s’est ré-ouverte à La Route du Rock collection Hiver nous ne nous sommes pas faits prier.
Ton album est un joyeux mélange de plein de choses, à la fois bourré d’influences et assez singulier. As-tu une idée en tête pour décrire tout ça ?
Je ne sais pas si j’ajouterais autre chose car c’est effectivement un melting pot. Mais je pense que c’est spécifique à mon premier album – qui est à peu près tout ce que les gens ont pu entendre jusqu’ici – et peut-être que je ne mélangerai pas toujours plein de choses dans mes disques. J’ai fait de la musique pendant cinq ans et tout à coup, il a fallu que je me lance, que je fasse enfin un album et c’est pour ça qu’il ressemble donc à une sorte de compilation de plein de choses. Alors je ne sais pas… peut-être que le prochain album ne sera pas du tout comme ça.
Il parait que tu as beaucoup voyagé au cours des dernières années et utilisé l’environnement des endroits que tu as visités pour concevoir l’album. C’est quelque chose que tu avais en tête dès le départ ?
Après avoir énormément tourné avec Late Of The Pier – on a voyagé de manière intense pendant presque deux ans – à la fin de ça, j’étais encore un ado – je devais avoir 20 ans à l’époque – en revenant chez moi, coincé quelque part alors que j’étais aussi jeune, j’ai fini par me sentir mal, comme « en pause ». C’est juste plus du tout excitant alors tu finis par attraper le virus du voyage, ce qu’on appelle le « wanderlust »… et je pense que j’ai vraiment chopé ça. Et du coup, je ne peux pas rester sans rien faire au même endroit trop longtemps sans commencer à me sentir bizarre. J’y pense souvent comme quelque chose de naturel car on vient tous de peuples nomades et que ça vient probablement de là.
Écouter l’album en intégralité : Spotify
He’s one of our favorite artists of 2015. We talked about him many times and had even planned on asking him a few question at the Midi Festival, last Spring, without succeeding.
We finally caught up with Sam Eastgate at La Route Du Rock: Collection Hiver and he talked to us about creation processes, building things and even a little bit about Late Of The Pier.
Your album is like a huge melting pot. It sounds full of different influences but quite unique at the same time. But how would you describe your music ?
I don’t know if I would say anything else cause it IS a melting pot. But I think that’s specific to my first record – which is everything everyone’s heard so far – and maybe I’m not always gonna throw everything into one record. Because I’ve been making music for five years and then I had to make an album, get round to just doing it and that’s why it was kind of a compilation of all I had done. So I don’t know… Maybe the next one won’t be a melting pot.
Even if you had already been releasing music under the LA Priest name, you waited for 7 years after Late Of The Pier’s only album to release of full solo album. Is there a specific reason for that ?
Yes! It’s gonna become clearer soon because I was also working on lots of other records and none of them came out very quickly… A lot of them I was like working on sporadicaly. And also, I was building a lot of electronic instruments, trying to make some new weird equipment for myself to make this record, which was a really good source of ideas for the record. But it was mostly because I was doing other records at the same time and one of them’s about to come out soon so people might go like « oh that’s what he was doing ».
And how is it different for you now that you are a solo artist? Has it changed the way you work, the way you think about music ?
I suppose… Maybe I think about music even more often. Because you have to kind of like think about it every day when you’re just a solo artist because you have a lot more responsabilities, you have to make sure all the things are happening and I think it’s not always like that… There are a lot of people who are in bands or in big groups that would sometimes like to do more than they do. Like maybe a drummer doesn’t want to just play the drums and that can be hard as well for people who want to do something else so… I’m looking, I can do whatever I want, I can play whatever instrument I want if I can afford to take it with me on a bus or whatever. But I don’t know… I can’t remember how it was before, cause from being in bands before, I’ve kind of always felt the same way about music, so maybe it’s just not changed at all.
The LA Priest project seems already very mature and well established. However, you’ve probably heard over the years that lots of fans are still hoping for an LOTP reunion. Could you see yourself doing it ? Or is it all already too much in the past ?
That’s a really hard question to answer… Sometimes I say « nothing’s gonna happen with this thing or that thing » but you know… Sometimes I catch myself cause I think I don’t think it’s ever gonna happen again because I’ve invented this thing with the other guys in the band years and years ago and it was like an idea at that time and ideas change, like the way you think about thing change. I don’t think anybody creative ever goes back and wants to live in the past or repeat an idea exactly how it was. But you don’t have to so… There’s a possibility, if it was something totaly new that just had the same name. The only thing is why would you use an old name? To me… I’ll never make the same record again so it would only make sense to use the same name if it was like the same people but it’s not gonna be the same people so… (LOTP’s drummer, Ross Dawson passed away last year, Ed.) I find it a hard question but I’m sure everybody wants to ask it.
How did you work on that album ? Did you lock yourself in a studio for a few days or did you record tracks whenever inspiration came, for instance ?
I think the only thing I needed to create the record was spare time and space, wherever it was… The demos, when I started working sounded really different. But for instance, for some of the songs on the record, I’m glad I had access to certain instruments cause they helped me write: I didn’t have a piano apart from one song and that song was the first single. And if I hadn’t had a piano I might have not written that song. It was in a backstage area in Switzerland, there was a piano, I started playing and… Song written! So, I think everything changes the music you make, everything has an influence and it would have been a totally different record and maybe just as good in different circumstances.
I read you had travelled a lot over the past years and used the environment of the places you were in to conceive the alum. Was it something you had planned or did it just sort of happen ?
After touring quite extensively in Late Of The Pier – we had like two years of really intense travelling – coming out of that, I was still a teenager – I was about 20 years old at that time – coming back home and sort of staying in one place after that at that age, you kind of feel bad or on hold… It’s just not as invigorating or exciting so you kind of get a « travelling bug », a « wanderlust »… And I think I’ve got that, really and I can’t stay still for too long in one place without kind of feeling strange. I always think about it, it’s cause everybody evolved from nomadic people so it must be the natural thing to want to do that.
You evoked that earlier: you created your own instruments and produced almost all the tracks of the album by yourself. That sounds like a huge challenge. Why did you choose to do that ?
The first thing I realized really early on is I was starting to make music based on really small sounds and it would always only depend on the pieces of equipment I had access to. It’s like a tree growing from this one point and then all these ideas, the different bits of the song kind of branch out from that, and I thought « wow, it’s so crucial to get that starting point but I don’t have enough money to buy this mega expensive studio equipment and even if I did, it might not make my songs any different. But it’s kind of weird using the same equipment as everybody else, you know, using the same guitars or keyboard or whatever… Maybe the best thing ever would be to have my own source. » I’ve never really thought about how sounds work like in a scientific way, so… It wasn’t too hard to work out what I was doing. You know, I just used the Internet a lot just to borrow ideas and then didn’t really know what to do technically. I don’t know anything about electricity, so there was a lot of accidents, stakes that ended up in the album.
Have you already started to work on some new tracks ? And how do you see the future for LA Priest ?
Yeah, I’ve just sort of started recording little melodies and things, voice recorder, this kind of stuff. It won’t be very soon until the finished work, it will go through another process but for me, I’m also aware that there’s like a way of learning about the music I’m making by testing it live, which I didn’t do with the first record. So I think the next stage for me is to start trying out new ideas live. But I haven’t done that yet, really, I’ve just done different versions of my songs for live so I do a lot of kind of reinventing stuff. But to try out a completely fresh song is gonna be liberating so I think that could be a great source of inspiration for another record.
What would you recommend us to listen to ?
Yeah, I was supposed to think about that actually for another interview. I have a lot of friends I’d like to kind of take on tour with me but it doesn’t always work out. You should listen to Queen, Freddy Mercury and Bwengo.
Full Album : Spotify