Oxford's post hardcore prospects in Lastelle are among a growing contingent of artists that understand the importance of the complete presentation.
In a relatively short amount of time, (Lastelle became official in 2018) the band has very much earned a proper footing in the digital space, tallying streams (Spotify) and views (Youtube) in the hundreds of thousands - no small feat for a band that has yet to make a proper introduction.
Set to release their highly-touted 'Delicate' EP on February 26th, the band stands to mark their arrival with an articulate 6-track delivery of ambient post hardcore that translates almost cinematic in it's nuanced complexity. This isn't just aggression, distortion, and a disingenuous sense of angst crammed into the conventional verse, chorus, verse. Lastelle's brand of catharsis is methodical, measured, and massive in a way that certainly separates them from the pack.
The collection of tracks on 'Delicate' bear the emotional weight of personal loss, unrequited love, and the kind of relationship dynamics that make a scream resonate as sincere. Their brand is one that nurtures a sense of coping, through creative means - a process a listening audience is lucky enough to sit in on. It's that personal quality of the music that permeates and positions the band to become a very promising example of all that post-hardcore can be - dynamic, daring, definitive.
Marking the final video premiere ahead of the EP release, Lastelle's Freddie Whatmore detailed the formative last year for the band and how the somber tone of 'Delicate' actually has a silver lining built into it.
Lastelle formed in September 2018 and has already amassed a very strong presence online between Spotify streams and YouTube views alone. What would you attribute to that kind of traction, especially given no touring has happened for almost a year now?
Whatmore - The whole growth is definitely helped by creating a visual aspect for pretty much every song we’ve released so far. Every single from the Delicate EP has a music video where we’ve tried something new visually, and hopefully this has helped people relate to us as people, and see what we’re doing as they can’t see us perform in person.
You’ve shared how your ‘Delicate’ EP was a more cohesive body of work both thematically and stylistically. How did the events of 2020 play into the evolution of the songs?
Whatmore - So interestingly, the whole EP was recorded just before March 2020, before the world knew what we were in for. We had just started working with Simon (Jackman, Outhouse Studios) on the mix when the planet started grinding to a halt. It’s pretty easy to carry on a workflow without meeting up in person, but we’ve definitely had to work around restrictions.
Regarding the writing process for the EP, we all felt it was right to channel some personal experiences and use the Delicate EP to discuss them. For example, "Departure" is a song Jonjo (Williams, guitar) wrote for a close relative that had sadly passed away, after losing a battle with cancer. "A Letter Unread" was a combined effort discussing unrequited love and strenuous relationships, so for some of us it was an opportunity to work through those issues.
Stylistically we’ve tried to pull from a few different directions and influences, but there’s more of an overarching theme of loss and emotion that we tried to match with the instrumentation. There’s a lot more orchestration on this record and the arrangements shift the spotlight away from guitar-led music, putting that spotlight on a piano line, a trumpet part or a soft vocal melody.
How symbolic is “A Letter Unread” as the final single release from the EP given how it’s 1 - the first song you wrote for this EP and 2 - a track that has evolved completely from its original version?
Whatmore - It feels like the entire process has been wrapped up perfectly for us. It was a juggling act of trying to focus on pianos, violins, and a cello, while still making it sound like LASTELLE. It was a fun creative exercise to write, but I think in the end it’s probably my favorite song on the EP, due in part to how well the mix sits to allow every instrument some room. The original version still had a lot of piano focus so that has been consistent, but lyrically we were still changing lines around in the recording studio. We went with what felt more right at the time.
How much of this ‘Delicate’ EP comes from personal toil? These tracks resonate as very emotional, very insightful. Were these songs the result of real experiences?
Whatmore - I touched on it earlier, but this EP is a very accurate reflection of a lot of the things we’ve gone through in the past few years, and Delicate is a tribute to every person we’ve lost over time. It’s not all doom and gloom though - the glimmers of hope in the record should remind people that moving on is a normal part of life, and it’s okay to draw a line under something, and start a new chapter.
We have all lost people close to us and making this record has helped us move forward, as we find resolution and process every loss through music. Delicate is an open invitation to anyone, and a reminder be honest with those you love while you still have the chance.
Your reach as a post hardcore band seems to extend beyond the post hardcore loyalists. Do you feel like the lines between heavy music sub genres are becoming blurred?
Whatmore - I like to think so, and we owe that to all the bands that are breaking down those barriers before us. There’s no feeling of gatekeeping in the scene, and there’s a hell of a lot more room for bands just looking to do their own thing. Even though we love big riffs and breakdowns, LASTELLE has never been about that. As a band that draws from atmospheric and cinematic post-rock, it’s amazing to feel welcomed by fans of heavy music and traditional post-hardcore.
Considering that the stage still seems like a very distant reality, how do you plan to share the LASTELLE live experience with fans in the interim?
Whatmore - It’s been tough to try and find the right way to represent what LASTELLE is, as our music is written to be played live. I don’t think live streams and sit-down performances are off the table for us, but we’re still looking to find a good way to give fans of our music an experience that we are proud of. I’m optimistic for the future of live music, and I think we’re all - musicians and fans alike - excited for the energy of that first show back. No matter how distant it seems right now, it’ll be worth waiting for.
The EP 'Delicate' from Lastelle is available for pre-order - HERE. Watch the premiere of "A Letter Unread" from Lastelle below.