Taking a break from a huge tour supporting Vera Blue to visit Brisbane for BIGSOUND, we had a chat with Lanks about collaborations, new music and they key to enjoying time on the road while touring.
You’re in the middle of a tour with Vera Blue, how has that been so far?
It’s been awesome. All the crowds have been really responsive and everyone has been really warm, supportive and coming down early. I got to sing with Celia (Vera Blue) the other night so that was great. It’s been pretty hectic, we did five nights of shows last week, so super busy but really fun.
Does it get tiring playing that much?
Yeah, when I was on the Ngaiire tour I started to get tired vocally, so I went and had a few vocal lessons and I’ve been working really hard on them and I’ve started doing warm ups properly. Once I started doing that after five nights, I felt like I could go for another ten.
What do you do in vocal lessons?
Mostly just working on getting a really good warm up routine and being able to look after myself better. Just over the last year I have started doing more extensive touring, so the flaws in your techniques that may be exhausting you quicker start to show up. It’s just about being able to get your vocal chords get to that point where you’re not damaging them. So there’s a 20-30 minute warm up routine that gets me there.
Has there been a show on the tour so far that has really stood out for you?
I really loved doing the encore with Celia on Sunday, which was so much fun, but the Friday show in Melbourne at Howler was so great. The vibe in the room for that night was so electric. That was probably the highlight so far, but every show has been great.
You recently collaborated with just a gent for Heavy As A Heartbreak, how did that come about?
Last BIGSOUND my manager met his manager and they had been chatting. Then Jacob (Just A Gent) gave a list of a couple of people he was looking to work with to his manager, and it happened that I was on that list. He’d heard a couple of my things on Triple J Unearthed, so he hit me up. Then I wrote the vocal part, lyrics and melody and sent it back via email. We hadn’t even met until Splendour this year – where we were playing together.
Does that make it harder playing together, when you’ve never met before?
We’d chatted a bit online and he’s a really great person. I’m sure sometimes there could definitely be problems with doing that, but he is such a great person. He’s only 19 but he’s so mature, so we had no problems. It was just really nice to meet finally and I’m really excited to see all the stuff that’s happening for him.
Do you have any collaborations coming up or is there anyone you’d like to work with?
There’s always heaps of people I’d love to work with, I’m really enjoying getting the chance to meet so many people. Airling actually sings on one of the tracks that will be on the EP that comes out next month. There’s another collaboration that’s coming up that I can’t talk about just yet, but I’ve got a lot coming up.
A couple of days ago you released your new single ‘Holla’, can you talk me through the production and lyrics?
I think for me the song is really about looking at people who are having a tough time and encouraging people that there is support. That’s where it came from and there’s a story in that. But that’s sort of the message. I sing a lot of songs that are quite emotional, so I wanted one that makes you feel really great and leaves you with a great vibe. So that’s what I was trying to pull out of it.
It’s a song that I’ve literally been working on since last September. I had all these sections for it and I put them away and cut other things to put in. It was just a real slow burner. It took a long time to get right and then I finally got it to where I thought it was done. So I took it to Tom Iansek who had a listen, and he ended up recording lead vocal and piano to it, so that added a bit extra. Then I took it to Andrei Eremin who helped me replace a lot of drum samples and things like that. So the bulk of ideas were there, but these guys really helped refine the ideas. I just can’t thank them enough. I’m really proud of how it ended up.
When you’re writing new material do you generally take a long time with it?
It can be really different. Some songs just need a lot of time spent on them. One song on the EP was pretty much written in one day, and I would have written about 80% of ‘Holla’ in a day, just getting it right took time. I actually read this really great interview with the president of Pixar the other day, and he was talking about how when you first come up with an idea it’s generally not good, it takes time to refine. I think there’s a maturity in being able to do that. I’m getting there slowly. My first EP, I made it all and got it mixed, I couldn’t go back and rework a song at all and I found that really difficult. But now, it’s more like ‘ok, let’s open this up again and rip it apart’ and I did that a lot of times with the new EP.
Once you’ve finished up with this tour, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
The EP is dropping on October 14, so that’s a pretty big thing for me. There will probably be some more touring, plus a few things I can’t announce just yet. I’m also playing at The Plot, there’s so many amazing artists playing that too. I’m excited to start writing again, actually I never really stopped, but I’ve got a lot of new ideas for whatever comes after the EP. Hopefully it will be an album.
Considering the amount of touring and shows you play, does that make it hard to balance your personal life?
It can be challenging, but I’ve got a great group of people that travel and tour with me. My band that tour with me they’re just my best friends basically. But I do love spending time at home with my roommates and girlfriend, so that’s good too. I’ve got good people around me all time, so I’m happy.