BY RUSSELL CLEPPER
Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
May 12, 2014
Eight years ago, around the time he graduated from Evergreen College, Eli Moore had a birthday party in Olympia. The Whidbey native and some friends played music for the occasion and a band—LAKE—was born. Since then, they’ve woven themselves a distinctively important pattern in the coat of many colors that is the Northwest indie music scene.
The group will kick-off their upcoming Pacific Northwest Tour with a show at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 15 at Bayview Hall. The following night, Friday, they’ll perform in Everett for the Fisherman’s Village Festival.
The band name is an acronym formed from the first names of the four original members: Lindsay Schief, Ashley Eriksson, Kenny Tarantino and Eli Moore. Together they forged a sound based on the infectious rhythms and melodies of traditional pop music, but with a low-fi indie twist or two. They strive to create music that is accessible and inclusive, yet also experimental and innovative.
Moore and Eriksson are the two remaining founding members of the group, which has enjoyed a fair amount of success in the indie pop world. They have toured all around the U.S., Europe and Japan, and have had a couple of their songs picked up by the award-winning, animated hit series “Adventure Time” on Cartoon Network. In fact, the end song for each episode is Eriksson’s tune “Christmas Island” or “Island Song,” which, she said, was originally written as “a love song for Eli about Langley.”
Eriksson and Moore met through a mutual friend in southern California. The songwriting couple appreciates Whidbey Island, where they are currently living, for its quiet lifestyle and natural beauty. There are less distractions here, they say, than in the more musically-energetic college town of Olympia.
“We write more when we’re here,” said Eriksson. Both she and Moore prefer writing and recording to live performance.
“We do like playing live shows. But we’re not ‘performers.’ We are more about writing and recording,” said Moore. Some of their videos belie that statement a bit. The duo delivers spot-on, deadpan comic acting in their delightful music videos “Within/Without” and “Perfect Fit,” both of which can be easily found on YouTube.
Their live shows are straightforward offerings, characterized by traditional pop instrumentation, intriguing arrangements, understated vocals and a down-to-earth stage presence. “Our music is traditional pop, leaning towards mainstream older stuff, but very human,” said Moore.
“We’re non-flashy,” said Eriksson. “We don’t have really exceptional vocals. They’re subdued.”
Subdued, perhaps, but very well thought-out and harmonically complex. Most band members are multi-instrumentalists, too, and often change instruments back and forth, from one song to the next, in their live shows. Band members also collaborate in writing songs—another instance where their multi-instrumentality comes into play.
Band members Andrew Dorsett and Markly Morrison from Olympia complete the line-up for the upcoming tour. Dorsett has a long musical resumé and is highly appreciated in the Northwest music scene as an arranger and session musician. Morrison is the wizard behind the curtain of the one-man supergroup “Skrill Meadow” and, when not working with LAKE, has his hand in a number of other musical projects.
Eriksson not only plays different instruments, but enjoys exploring different points of view in her songwriting. Though both artists tend to write either love songs or songs with a message, both believe there are many different, fresh ways to go about expressing a theme.
“The best part about songwriting is not feeling like I have one particular voice,” Eriksson said, “The voice is always changing. It’s great when you stumble onto a new voice.”
For Moore, it’s a bit different. “I definitely have a voice,” he said. “In fact, I’ve recently been studying songwriting to find new ways to use my voice in writing. I usually do more stream-of-consciousness writing. It’s more the feeling of the word that I’m interested in. Ashley tries to use words in the same way people talk.”
Indeed, Eriksson said that she never realized that people talk in iambic pentameter until she took a class on Shakespeare. “As we have our conversations, we try to speak in an organized way and don’t even realize it. In a song, it’s the same rules. We fit words into meter and structure.
“Another important thing, if you’re doing pop music, is to keep it simple,” she said. Besides that, the two agree that you need catchy choruses and melodies that are accessible. Finally, it has to have wide, preferably cross-generational appeal.
“We want to be inclusive so it’s not abrasive, not grating,” said Eriksson. “We would like to bring as many people in as possible.”
Other than the Bayview show and the ensuing tour, Lake is also in the process of recording a new album. They have already laid down the basic tracks at the Unknown Studio in Anacortes.
Eriksson said, “We’re excited. It feels good. We really like recording at the Unknown Studio. It sounds beautiful right away in there. You don’t have to tweak and add things so much. Things are shimmering and beautiful right away.”
They have 10 releases listed on their discography on their web page. The last two, “The World is Real” and “Circular Doorway,” were released in 2013. The band caught the attention of indie label K Records in Olympia early on. Most of their recordings are with that label, although a couple were self-released.
They expect their show to include some of their latest compositions, mixed in with songs they know their fans will want to hear. That is another limitation of live performance, they said; there is not enough time to include an exhaustive representation of their output over these past eight years. And true fans do want to hear their favorites.
“You find you lean towards a small body of work that you perform live,” said Moore.
Tickets for LAKE’s Bayview Hall show will be sold at the door, which opens at 7 p.m. Music starts at 8 p.m.
For more information about LAKE, please check these links: http://www.laketheband.com and http://krecs.com/artists/lake/. LAKE is on Youtube. The author suggests “Perfect Fit” as a starting point to explore their music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JuIQ9kQZII
(photo at top: The indie-pop group LAKE: (left to right) Markly Morrison, Andrew Dorsett, Ashley Eriksson, Eli Moore (photo courtesy of the artists)
Russell Clepper is a singer-songwriter who plies his trade locally and around the country. He is also a substitute teacher for the Oak Harbor School District.
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