‘I see LA Priest as a character. I know the character I am supposed to be playing’: The story of Sam Eastgate and LA Priest

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‘I see LA Priest as a character. I know the character I am supposed to be playing’: The story of Sam Eastgate and LA Priest

LA Priest
Words by Jacob McCormack

Sam Eastgate has been playing music since he was eight years old. Involved in multiple bands, projects and sonic experimentations, one of the most notable and experimental of them all is LA Priest.

With two studio albums already released, Sam is set to release the brand new 7-track Fase Luna on Friday May 5 via Domino Records.

This new album stays true to the unique approach Sam has to songwriting. However, it carries its own nuance. Influenced by the coastal and ecologically rich landscapes of Central America, the album is mainly built by looped guitar sounds, ethereal vocals and ad hoc drumbeats.

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“I had this idea left over from a Soft Hair project,” says Sam. “A 2015 pursuit that I did with Connan Mockasin. The project provided a little window into a sound that we worked on together. We described it as slippery, lizard beach music. Kind of sleazy tropical music. A particular niche.”

It’s easy to attribute the word niche to any music that Sam may release under the moniker LA Priest. But Fase Luna was originally leaning towards becoming an extension of his previous work. It took the process of recording to steer Sam towards a new direction.

“I was actually going to go more into the realm of electronic sound,” he says. “When I was starting stuff out in Mexico, I had made an entire other record. At least the beginnings of it involved hours and hours of music that was just synths.

“I was just looking for a drummer at the last minute. It was about three weeks before we left, I initially thought I was going to do all the drums with my drum machines.

“I just started watching stuff on YouTube and this little video popped up of this guy drumming in a field. Playing his little drum kit to Venus As A Boy by Bjork. At the bottom of the video, it said Puerto Morelos, Mexico. The internet came to the rescue and pointed this guy out to me.”

Sam was located in Puerto Morelos at the time, and what ensued was a quick drum recording session over a couple of days. The album was still unfinished though and it wasn’t until Sam travelled to Costa Rica, which provided a change in scenery, that it assumed its final form.

“It was something where I thought this would be bad for the recording,” says Sam. “Mexico was nice, but it was really built up. They just build it up and make it shiny and concrety for the tourists, but in Costa Rica they just leave it. You can just enjoy nature and not be surrounded by glass and concrete.”

The sunny, tropical and natural paradise of Costa Rica is a significant departure from Sam’s home in Wales. Although he admits that he quickly became accustomed to his new surrounds. An immersion that pronounces itself in the way Fase Luna captures the serenity of nature.

“It is amazing how quickly you get accustomed to your surroundings,” He says. “Within a couple of weeks, I found myself being unaware of some aspects of my surroundings, but only certain aspects. Somethings you wake up and can’t ignore. The sound of all the insects and animals hits you every day.

“It’s just dead silent where I grew up and here in Wales. Except for the sound of cars and postman. The word is dead. Life is hidden, whereas life is all around you [in Costa Rica].”

Not only does Fase Luna exist as a unique album because of the inspiration that came from the environment Sam found himself in, it also acts as a return to playing guitar. An instrument that has contributed greatly to Sam’s musical expression throughout the years.

“When I first started LA Priest, I didn’t want to touch a guitar again for a while because I did a lot of it in my first band. I just thought that’s it, I’m just going to be synth guy. I had a long time where I wasn’t thinking about anything guitar related. I got back into it on the second album.”

“It was one single thing for the whole record just on a guitar, not even plugged in, it was just me strumming the guitar into the laptop microphone for 40 minutes.”

What has evolved is the hypnotic and dreamy Fase Luna – a journey into the mystery of nature.

You can stream Fase Luna from May 7. Follow LA Priest on Instagram.

This article was made in partnership with Domino.