The State Of Music: Part 33: Utah - L'anarchiste
The fact I was able to find a band I could connect with in Utah is something that never fails to astound me. I am not a religious man, so I always knew that a state more known for its association with the LDS Church than musical output would be a challenge. Then I stumbled upon Rob LeCheminant, a Salt Lake City resident who has created some rather beautiful music thought his project L'anarchiste.
With 6 songs totalling over 30 minutes, it's no punk rock, and usually anything over 5 minutes is a struggle for me - but I found when listening to the 8 minutes and 42 seconds of 'Iron' on their self title EP I actually found myself not wanting the song to end.
CMM: Welcome to Choose My Music. I suppose the first question is - who are L'anarchiste and where in the world would we find you?
- L'anarchiste initially began as a solo project of mine in the basement of my parents' house, but I've since gotten together with other musicians I've met over the years from previous bands, school, etc. There's me, Alex Gilvarry, Andy Westenhaver, Jake Burch, Erik Maloy, and Melissa Lapray. We are currently located in Salt Lake City.
CMM: For the benefit of people like me who have never been to Utah how would you best describe the state?
- In my (admittedly biased) opinion this is the most beautiful state in the country. I frequently travel around the state camping, hiking, rafting, rock climbing, etc. There are so many amazingly beautiful areas here. My area of choice is anywhere in southern Utah. Its red rocks, canyons, and rivers inspire me more than I could ever describe.
CMM: How long has the group been together and how did it all start?
- I've spent years in various groups on a few different instruments and I've loved the time I've had with those groups, and still have with some, but I've never felt like I was really writing or playing exactly what I wanted to write and play, so I started gathering recording equipment here and there.
So now, I've been writing songs as L'anarchiste for just under a year now, but we've only recently become a group. I think around August I started looking for other musicians because the itch of wanting to play music was just too strong to ignore.
CMM: How best would you describe your music?
- Wow, that's a tough question. L'anarchiste means "the anarchist" in French and I chose that because my idea musically is that I don't have one. I don't want to be held to any certain genre in my writing, so I kind of go where the music takes me.
It's a bit tough to describe sometimes, and I'm not trying to sound pretentious when I say that, either. It's generally a nice surprise, and sometimes even jarring, to see what happens when I write. "Iron" is probably my best example of this. I use a loop pedal quite often to try out riffs, sounds, etc, and I decided I wanted to try my hand at some a cappella stuff, so I just started singing without any preconceived notion of what I would do. I sang the first thing that came into my head, then layered on top of it, then again on top of that, and again on top of that, and I had the basic foundation of the song. I just started adding percussion and organ because, well, that's just what felt right at the time.
I then recorded a very basic sequence of different loops on my phone while singing gibberish along with it in what I thought would be a nice melody. Everything I did in that song was a first take and all I did was add lyrics to that initial melody I came up with and that's exactly what "Iron" is now. It doesn't work quite the same way with all my songs, but in general that's how it goes or at least how approach my songwriting. Even the actual recording process is completely experimental for me. Things always change as I go and it's generally for the better.
So with that extended detour of an explanation, I suppose I don't really know how to describe my music. I really don't wake up and want to write a folk song one day, a blues song the next, rock the next, but rather, I just write. I really hate to admit it, but I'm one of those snobs that has every song in iTunes listed as "music" for the genre. I guess I'll let the listeners decide what they think it is.
CMM: What is the music scene like in Utah right now? What the genre of choice out there at the moment?
- There's really a lot of great stuff here. There are so many incredibly talented musicians not only here in Salt Lake, but also in Ogden and Provo, which are the valleys north and south of Salt Lake respectively. I am consistently amazed when I go to local shows and hear this incredible music. I feel very lucky to have it all so close to me.
It's hard to say what is the strongest, however, because all the genres kind of run together here. I've seen folk groups open for hardcore and ska and visa versa. The underground scene is very supportive of each other. There are actually a handful of local artists that have made the national scene (Meg & Dia, the Used, Neon Trees, Brandon Flowers of the Killers, Fictionist, David Archuleta, and the obvious, Donny and Marie Osmond), a few of which I enjoy listening to, but I do think that the strongest music is this relatively unknown underground folk/rock. Joshua James, Sayde Price, Parlour Hawk, Desert Noises, Tolchock Trio, Future of the Ghost, Michael Gross & the Statuettes, Dave Chisholm (who recently relocated to Rochester, NY), just to name a few, are very, very talented musicians and artists in their own right.
It's hard for me to convey my love of the music here, but it's enough to say that I am very proud to be a part of this growing scene here in Utah.
CMM: One thing I am hoping to find in this series is some kind of link between where a band is based and their music. Do you feel as a group you are influenced by your surroundings and the scene around you?
- Where I'm from has a huge influence on my writing. I can't tell you how many local artists/songs have influenced my writing, even just a little bit. It's hard to convey the power of a good local scene, but it is definitely present here. Not only that, but I spend a lot of time outdoors and that maybe has had even more profound influence than anything else.
CMM: What other influences does the band have, musical or otherwise?
- I grew up loving a lot of funk and disco thanks to my dad's upbringing in the Oakland area of California and classic rock has always been an influence as well. Most specifically Led Zeppelin, America, Toto, and Yes. I also have a deep love for jazz and classical. Miles Davis, Debussy, Stravinsky, Barber, and Prokofiev, are all heroes of mine. It's a bit hard to tell in my music, I think, but I think that influences don't necessarily need to be heard in the music to be there.
There is also so much incredible independent music coming out with the accessibility of the internet that it'd be untimely to list every band or artist that has influenced me just within the last few years. Lyrically, I get a lot of inspiration from personal experiences, but I'm also an avid movie/documentary fan, so there's some influence that creeps in from that realm as well. I also tend to go to concerts quite often, whether I know the band well or not, and I just take it in as much as I can. I feel like there's inspiration that people sometimes miss out on from any band, any genre.
CMM: Could you perhaps give a run down of the music you have released so far?
- So far very little has been released by L'anarchiste. Just the one ep, really. I originally had a small blog that maybe five people looked at that I put some songs up. I have since taken them down and opted for the bandcamp page I currently have.
CMM: Your project is quite new, are you planning to get out an play live? How do you think you could recreate your sound in a live setting?
- It's new enough that we haven't played live quite yet, but we've been rehearsing quite frequently and we've got our first show coming up at my favorite local venue, Kilby Court, in Salt Lake City on February 25th. We're really excited for that. After that, there are some scattered shows lined up and we've also been requested to play in the Nebraska Pop Festival, so we're lining that up right now. As far as live sound goes, the nature of my songs is that they're a bit complex, so it's taking some time to learn them, but I'm really satisfied with how things are going. It's going to sound different live, that's for sure. I've actually recorded everything in the songs by myself and as a consequence even with 6 of us it's just logistically impossible to cover all the parts I write, but it's forcing us to be creative in a really good way. We're learning how to convey the original intent of the music live. I will tell you that there will be a lot of multi-tasking though!
CMM: What's next in the pipeline for you?
- While there's only the ep that's currently on bandcamp, I am working hard on a lot of different musical ideas (way too many, really) so look for a full album early 2012.
I self-record everything I do, so it does take some time, but it's coming together nicely so far. It'll be an album full of guitars, ukelele, banjo, piano, keys, synthesizers, tons of percussion, lots of harmonies, trombones, trumpets, saxophones, clarinets, recorders, accordian, melodica, and whatever other weird things I can get my hands on. It's fairly ambitious, I guess you could say, but it's been a complete joy to work on.
CMM: And finally, where can people reach out to you online and where can they get hold of your stuff?
The bandcamp website and the facebook page are the best places to keep updated with what's happening.
for direct questions/comments you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow me on twitter! @RobLeCheminant