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LA Priest

LA Priest (pronounced Lah Preest) is the solo moniker of unpredictable and expectation-defying musician Samuel Eastgate, who also took part in the band Late of the Pier and his collaborative project with Connan Mockasin, Soft Hair. After signing with Domino Records in early 2015, Eastgate brought his colorful and mysterious art pop to releases like 2020's GENE and 2023's Fase Luna, an album of LA Priest material recorded when Eastgate was stranded in Mexico. Although Eastgate initially launched the LA Priest project in 2007 with a 12" release on Erol Alkan's Phantasy label, at that time he was primarily occupied with his duties as frontman for Late of the Pier. That group released one highly acclaimed LP, Fantasy Black Channel, in 2008, and a handful of singles before going on hiatus in 2010. Over the next several years, the reclusive Eastgate moved around, spending time in Greenland making sonic experiments and studying electromagnetic phenomena and apparently producing a number of secret, uncredited projects. He eventually settled down in a small village outside of Welshpool, Wales, where he re-emerged publicly in early 2015 announcing a deal with Domino Records under the LA Priest name. The first songs from the project were the singles "Oino" and "Party Zute/Learning to Love," both of which reflected his ambitious new direction. Debut album Inji arrived in June 2015, including both singles and eight other immersive art pop songs. In 2016, Eastgate teamed with former tourmate and fellow eccentric pop mastermind Connan Mockasin to form a new collaborative project called Soft Hair. The duo released a self-titled eight-song album (again with Domino) that featured the single "Lying Has to Stop." Eastgate was relatively quiet for the next few years, but he spent months building his own drum machine as part of the creative process leading up to his second LA Priest album, Gene. Released in June 2020, the record's highly composed songs were often guided by the rhythms of his homemade drum machine. That drum machine sound was so fascinating to so many listeners that Eastgate started getting requests from fans to build drum machines for them. One such request came from Belize, inviting Eastgate to come in person and work at their studio. Once he got to Mexico, however, travel restrictions meant he was stuck there for a while. Eastgate took this opportunity to create the third LA Priest album in his landlocked state, recording with local musicians in Mexico and in the rainforests of Costa Rica. The result was Fase Luna, a record largely free of the synthesizers and electronics previously intrinsic to LA Priest's sound, and one that shies away from modernized technology in favor of raw, unfiltered expressions.
© Timothy Monger & Fred Thomas /TiVo


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