Following the release of his latest track Trophy, it’s clear that 21-year-old Sydney hip-hop artist Lanstan is taking the local scene by storm. With an enviable confidence, a talent for introspective expression, and a unique genre-bending vision, Lanstan is carving out a clear space for himself in the modern hip-hop world. We had a chat with him about his songwriting, music journey, and the gaping hole left by the live music scene in 2020.
Hey Lanstan! Thanks for taking the time to chat to us and creating our first featured playlist.
Trophy is a really confident track that seems to balance itself somewhere between motivation and hesitation – what’s the meaning behind it for you and what are you hoping listeners will take from it?
Thank you! For me, this track is definitely meant to tell both sides of that coin. I think it’s really important as an artist to believe that you’re the best at what you do or that you could be. At the same time though, being the best comes with a lot of hard work and sacrifice which I wanted to highlight. The project I’m currently working on revolves around these themes of ambition and caution and Trophy really embodies this. I have an awesome run lined up for the rest of the year with back to back singles that I know people will love. My main goal is to make sure that the people who liked Trophy stick around to hear what else I have in store!
Your tracks really play with genre and have a unique sound – what are some of your biggest influences? As an artist, what’s the process like to find that niche sound?
It’s always been important to me that I make whatever music I want regardless of genre boundaries. Although I have found some comfort in melodic trap music, my influences range from Kendrick Lamar to Andy Shauf, Homeshake and many more. The first concert I ever saw was David Byrne of Talking Heads with my dad when I was nine years old which gave birth to my passion for experimental sounds. I think fusing introspective lyricism with Australian colloquialisms helped me find a niche that people were drawn to. The fact that I allow myself to create songs that express my mood on either end of the spectrum is something my fans have always appreciated too. Sometimes I’m melancholy and gentle on tracks like ‘Alone’, and sometimes I just need to scream like on ‘Gang Gang Cockatoo’.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey over the last three years as an artist? What are some things you’ve learnt along the way?
It has been a long and weird journey to get to where I am now! My first song ‘Garn Servo’ and ‘The Aussie Tape’ with Miles Marmalade exploded me into the Australian hip hop scene which was a bit overwhelming at first. This was exaggerated by the fact that we released most of the songs and videos while we were travelling overseas for four months. When we came back home, we had amassed hundreds of thousands of streams and a fan base spread across multiple countries but had never even played a show. In 2019, I focussed on developing my own catalogue of music with my first solo EP ‘Dreams’ as well as a few loose singles. I got used to performing and learnt a lot more about the music industry. One important thing I learnt was that organisation is key in this game… as lame as that sounds. The earlier you manage to organise all your music and finalise the mixes and art, the longer you have to strategize your releases so that it can all unfold in one beautiful run. The other big thing I’ve learnt is that everyone wants to give you advice but it’s not always good to listen to them, trust your gut & carve your own path.
We love how you talk about finding the perfect melody within an instrumental – what’s your usual songwriting process like? Do you have really clear ideas before you start? Do you sit with that melody for a while once you’ve found it?
I often sit down with a beat and just see where it takes me, but sometimes I have something I really want to say and I’m just finding the right way to get it out. I’m fascinated by the concept of the death of the author – that a writer’s views of their own work is no more or less valid than any given listener. This often puts me into an out of body state where the song feels bigger than myself and I’m just trying to help it manifest. I can hear spaces in the song where I know something should be there and I’m helping to try and fill it.
How has 2020 affected the process for you?
The main impact 2020 has had on me as an artist is that I can’t perform. I have a whole new set now and it has been a great shame that my fans didn’t get to see my new songs work their way into the set list. I’ve tried to remain optimistic about it and I’m planning a colossal comeback show for when the Covid restrictions ease up more. My releases were also delayed which was annoying for me at first but has actually ended up working out really well. I was sorting out some features for EDM tracks with European producers and they happened to perfectly tie in with my run. Moving forward from this year, I just want to make sure I never take performing for granted because you never expect to go this long without seeing your fans.
You’ve made big statements about the war on live music in NSW – as an artist, what has it been like to compete with the NSW rules and then COVID on top?
Well, although I took a strong stance against NSW and their war on live music, I do entirely understand the need to shut down for Covid. I just hope that we can see off the last of our coronavirus cases as we go into summer so people can start to feel connected again. It runs a lot deeper than just the music industry, it will be great for everyone’s mental health to get back to a space of feeling comfortable going out and having a good time again. I can’t wait to get back on stage and show everyone what I’ve been working on.
Thanks for chatting with us! We’re so excited to feature your Local List Playlist this week!
Stream Trophy below: