Michigan has long been a hotbed for up-and-coming rock bands who find success with a unique approach to the most popular genre in the world. Whether you’re talking about classic artists like Bob Seger, who brought the working man’s woes to the mainstream, or more modern heavy acts like We Came As Romans and I Prevail, the mitten state has served as a launching pad for some of the most influential musicians of modern times. I cannot yet say that Grand Rapids group Lokella will reach the same level of influence, but after hearing their debut EP I certainly think they are well on their way to getting there.
Featuring former Fine Fine Titans members Jennifer and Evan Bartlett, Lokella is a brand new group that has never shared a single song with the general public before today. We were lucky enough to be sent an advance stream of the group’s new EP, The Worst Of, and we immediately knew it was the kind of material that would play well with you, the Substream reader. The members of Lokella have a way of combining the best elements of modern alternative rock, from its underutilized jazz influence, to the heavier sounds that start mosh pits, and creating something that is utterly unique. You can experience the group’s sound yourself by watching the world premiere of their visual EP below:
Pretty great, right? The Three Goats Moving Pictures-produced footage serves as a fitting accompaniment to the record.
We asked Jennifer Bartlett to shed some light on the story behind Lokella, and this is what she had to say:
“Lokella came about when four individuals were feeling the woes of a grueling industry that we had just barely scratched the surface of. We had all spent years working with various people in assorted bands and at the end of the day, trying to make everyone happy started to take a major toll on each of us. We wanted to get back to making art for the sake of art; no holds, no barriers, no expectations. The songwriting happened quickly and organically in our basement and because we kept it all quiet, we had no pressure to produce. Meanwhile, we knew that we wanted to release this in a visual format because it brings so much life to the story and who we are as people. We wanted to solidify a connection to the listener, to the viewer. We sat down with Andy Westra of Three Goats Moving Pictures and formed the concept for each video, leaving a lot of room for play as we wanted the video to shape as organically as the music had. While Evan spent countless long nights recording each of us (except the drums which were done at Cold War Studios by Christian Kremo) and mixing/mastering, Andy, Nate, Chris and I filmed in the limited time we had. At this point, we set a deadline for the end of October in order to announce the band in time for Souled Out Festival in Poughkeepsie, NY. The pressure was on at this point, however, by no one else but ourselves. There were definitely moments of “What the hell were we thinking? Can we really pull this off?” but everyone pulled through. Evan, despite being very new to recording engineering, soared through the songs. Andy came back with multiple surprises in the video and we were blown away. I still don’t know how we did it, but here we are! Best of all, it’s free on our official website.“
Lokella will be supporting The Worst Of with a release show in their home state this week, which will be followed by an appearance at Souled Out Festival in upstate New York on October 29.
We expect big things from Lokella in the new year. In the meantime, comment below and let us know your thoughts on The Worst Of.