THROWING LIGHT TOWARDS TAIRAWHITI
Humans are naturally social animals but they need alone time too. Time to think, lament, read and dream. But when New Zealand went into lockdown in March last year it was time to create for Wellington-based musician Lake South.
“My ultimate concern in life is writing songs,” said South, who is playing at Smash Palace tomorrow night.
Returning to Gisborne as part of The Light You Throw album tour, South is bringing his pandemic record, full of hope, joy and defiance.
“This one I originally had the idea of writing a profiles album. Each song would be about a particular person but I kinda failed in that.
“I normally start with some sort of idea, then even if I fail at that, just trying something give me the impetus to create something.”
The album is a walk through his varied life of buzzkill jobs and wanderings around the world.
Before the pandemic, South had toured Canada and Aotearoa, and was booked to play at America's South by Southwest festival in 2020 before the world shut down.
His travels took him to France, England and Australia, working in a flag factory in Melbourne.
“It was the biggest flag factory in the Southern Hemisphere. It was a terrible job. I had to clean these huge flags. Clean the screens in acid. I didn't last long there. Then I did picking and packing and an office removal job. Basically just a string of really bad jobs — but I got an album out of it.”
South brings a tight back-up band featuring Theo Sekeris on bass, Eddie Crawshaw on drums, and Penelope Esplin on harmonies and synths.
“This is the last weekend of the tour. The band is sounding good and we're excited to get out to Gisborne since our last gig at The Dome.”
The Light You Throw was composed on a nylon string guitar lent to him by his friend Timothy Blackman.
“I tried to write a song a day then choose the best ones. I workshopped them as much as I could.
“There's a bit of indie and electronic elements in there. They're designed to be played around a campfire kind of thing. But then I'll take them to the computer and try to zhuzh them up a bit.”
He wrote the album in his quintessential Wellington flat — small and equipped with a dehumidifier. He wrote the album moving from the carport to the kitchen to the lounge, following the sun through the day.
Part of the movement was also giving his partner a break from the endless music.
“I don't want to annoy my partner, playing the same thing over and over again.”
He got into music at a young age and got stuck with the drive to create.
“My parents gave me a guitar when I was 10 or something. I had a few lessons but wasn't really that into it. But as a teenager, as I started to get a bit more awkward and pensive, read certain books and certain music, I thought that I'd go down the artist path and haven't been able to get off it since.”
Growing up he would listen to the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and The Beastie Boys. Then when the night dropped he and his friends would dip out to raves to listen to drum and bass.
A staple for South is the ever melancholic, hopelessly cheerful band, The Mountain Goats.
“He's probably one of my favourite songwriters.”
These days his music taste has evolved to keep up with what is happening in the world today, listening to psytrance and pop music, and everything from New Zealand.
“I listen to new stuff that's coming out and see what I can steal from it.”
The album tour is almost over, but the Auckland shows have been put off until early 2022 when the big city opens its borders.
Lake South performs at Smash Palace with support from Samuel R. Saffery and Keira Batten-Coogan. Friday, November 19, 8pm. The show is seated with table service. Tickets $20 from Undertheradar with $10 tickets on offer.