Pop-folk group LASKA follows in the footsteps of sister-fronted bands like Haim, Joseph, and The Andrew Sisters, all the while rejuvenating the genre with their own special dynamics. The release party for their second album, Endless Patcher, was at the Amsterdam Bar in St. Paul on June 3, and featured an exceptional lineup.
Hannah, Bex, and Mookie Morton joined me for an interview discussing the new album, how LA has influenced their Midwest sound, and even revealing that secret sound you hear at the beginning of their second single. Evan Middlesworth, their producer and guitarist, also joined to share his production style and experience working with the trio.
That unique closeness you get with family-based groups is immediately heard when listening to the sisters. They were all home-schooled at one point and their mother would always say, “your sisters are your best friend, so you better love them.”
All being musical, that close bond was a natural glue that helped create LASKA. Their mother has been a huge advocate for the girls, driving them to shows before they had licenses, and reinforcing the focus on creating music together.
Evan attests that there’s a creative shorthand when working with the sisters. Being able to be direct, cut out any bullshit, and know how each of them hear things, is a huge advantage to recording. That close knit language of the group allows for more creative freedom and comfort rooted in trust.
“The nice thing is they are very talented and everything happens very fast. We’ll do 4-5 takes and if you don’t like something, speak up. Then they move along,” Evan says.
Two of the sisters now live in LA, which is lending to a progression of the bands overall sound. LASKA’s first single “Funhouse” is a prime example of that West Coast influence. The chorus of the song has a SoCal vibe to it, while the underlying energy of the track is still planted in the Midwest.
“Funhouse” deals with social anxiety, which the world has seen a huge increase in. The video jumps from a deserted landscape to the busy fun of a pier. The clever symbolism of feeling alone while being surrounded by people works perfectly with the visuals.
The themes of Endless Patcher are about recognizing the magic of going through life. It’s being present and perceptive of the journey, all while recognizing joy. Although mostly written pre-Covid, it’s easy to tie these together to our 2020 experiences. We all were forced to cut out distractions and find what matters most in our life, recognizing what paths we wanted to take
“I think as a whole our songs have found new meaning and have an adaptivity in them. There’s still a newness and current feeling in them that correlate to the world we’re living in now,” states Bex.
The album is a seamless quilt of dreamy folk-pop songs with tasteful production tricks and sounds. The opening seconds of “Dog Bite” is an 1800’s zither that was gifted to Evan. Consisting of 48 strings and being as old as it is, you can’t really tune it. Played more like a percussion instrument, it’s that bite of intrigue that leads you into the song. “Dog Bite” stands out as a healing bruise that reminds you of the past while feeling hopeful for the future.
“Purple Blue” leans on the more minimalist approach with piano, drums, and strings. The observational traits of Hannah sparked the creation of the song while sitting in the parking lot at work. She witnessed two people holding hands and kissing. That draw of seeing them candidly together spoke to her, as she realized that she wanted that feeling.
“Window Shopping” is another crafty track written for a friend of theirs who was going through a breakup. It’s about looking back through the relationship, realizing how you didn’t appreciate it as much as you wanted, and seeing it differently now that it’s over.
LASKA also shows strong emotions in their songwriting. When you write from a vulnerable spot, authentically releasing your feelings, it’s bound to find a listener on the other end. Although “People Pleaser” is a song they’ve been playing for quite awhile, Mookie shares it still holds an emotional charge in it’s message.
“That song used to bring me to tears all the time. It’s like looking back on my past self, singing to that person I was 3 years ago. It’s a healing feeling now when we play it.”
LASKA celebrated the release of the new album at Amsterdam in Saint Paul on June 3rd with local favorites Dad Bod and Bathtub Cig. They then embarked on an East and West Coast tour. Asking what excites them about a tour, Hannah jokes,
“It’s just like a giant adventure. Everyday you wake up a little bit slow, drink coffee, and get on the road. All of us share and love finding great places to eat. Mookie remembers the 2019 tour cities based on places they ate.”