LA Priest on his recent EP 'La Fusion', his time spent in Costa Rica, and the road to Slovakia for Pohoda Festival

Festivals LA Priest: “Uncertainty is essential for a live show”

Sam Eastgate takes a break en route to Slovakia’s Pohoda Festival to chat ‘La Fusion’, living in Costa Rica, and what’s on the horizon for LA Priest.

Slovakia’s primary musical hub come summer time, the picturesque town of Trençin is once again set to play host to this year’s edition of Pohoda, for what’s been crowned the European Festival Awards’ Best Medium Sized Festival (ooh-er). It’s little wonder it’s bagged that title, with this year’s line-up boasting huge names like former cover stars James Blake and Queens of the Stone Age, alongside DIY faves like Jockstrap, Royal Blood, SOFT PLAY and English Teacher

Also set to make his debut trip to Slovakia is LA Priest - aka Sam Eastgate, who plans to eke out his journey to the fest a little longer. We spoke to him ahead of appearance on the festival’s final day. 

Hello Sam! How’re you doing and what have you been up to recently?
I’m good thanks, I’ve been back in France at the old house I recorded [his 2015 album] ‘Inji’ in. I’m currently driving to Slovakia for Pohoda, but I found out I am playing on the last day so I’m staying in Italy a little bit longer for some more gelato.

Just a couple of weeks ago, you completed a tour of the UK; how were the shows, and what was it like getting to air some of your new material to audiences?
The shows felt a bit more easy going than in the past - which usually means I need to change everything and make it difficult again, but I think I had a good balance because of those unfinished songs in the set. They gave me that uncertainty that’s essential for a live show.

It’s not long since you released your EP ‘La Fusion’, which followed on from last year’s ‘Fase Luna’. How do you think the two work together as companions, now that they’re both out in the world? 
I don’t really see them as companion records - I’m not sure I’ll ever get close to the sound of ‘Fase Luna’ ever again - so ‘La Fusion’ is more like a mutant product of ‘Fase Luna’ and a chemical spillage to me.

When writing ‘La Fusion’, you were nearing the end of your time spent in Costa Rica; did you find that you were in a different headspace to when you’d been writing ‘Fase Luna’. Do you think the realisation of heading back to ‘real life’ was dawning around that time, and did that have an impact on how you wrote?
I wrote half the ideas back in Wales - the verse of ‘Too Cool’ and the chorus of ‘Apple’, for example. I think the Welsh winter just brought out more sincerity in the songs because it’s so bloody real; Costa Rica is always a bit surreal. 

What do you think you learned from both of the releases? And is there anything you hope listeners take away from them? 
I learned that there aren’t many times in my life that I’ll be able to put that much into a record. Maybe that’s a good thing; I think it can be as overwhelming for the listener when you go all out on a recording. I’ll always do that when it’s necessary though.

You’re gonna be changing things up and heading out to play at Pohoda shortly. Is this your first time playing in Slovakia?
I’ve never been to Slovakia. I think festivals outside the UK are better because the security are generally party people themselves and aren’t on as much of a power trip.

How do you find yourself approaching festival slots in particular? Is there a particular way you prepare for those kinds of sets?
For festivals I play with energy - the crowd are fuelled by it so you’ve got to give all you can. I also think you’ve got to break a few invisible walls. Musically, you paint with a wider brush and emphasise whatever the lead instrument is at any moment.

Is there anyone else on the line-up you’re hoping to catch when you’re over there, or anything you’d be keen to do?
QOTSA are playing and I don’t think I’ve ever seen them before, so I’m excited for them.

Finally, what comes next for LA Priest - is there anything we should be keeping our ears and eyes out for over the rest of 2024?
I’m building a new Gene prototype instrument on the road to Slovakia - it’s a sort of touch responsive poly synth that’s gonna be all on one circuit board that you play by putting your hands all over it. So that should be ready to put up on the Gene shop in a couple of months. Also new music coming, as always.

LA Priest plays Pohoda (11th-13th July) where DIY is an official media partner. Visit diymag.com/festivals for more information.

Tags: LA Priest, Pohoda, Festivals, Features, Interviews

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