Kendrick, Smoked Salmon, and New Zealand Rap: My interview with LAKES


By: Harrison Giza

Lakes make experimenting look easy. Their latest release, Reflections of the Night Before, is a beyond brilliant mix of hip-hop, rocked-out indie, and the right amount of New Zealand electronica. The group is made up of just two guys – Toby Edgar and Liam Jaques – but the pair have the same magmatic chemistry Pompeii and it’s citizens had.

Toby is the beat maker who spits the occasional bars of lyrical dopeness. Liam plays the guitar, takes the reign of lead vocals, and even has the time to hit a keyboard or two. Together, Lakes make a filtered blend of tunes that sound like they were plucked from  playlists across the globe, mixing genres like a bag of musical trail mix. Each track weaves into a completely new breed of rocked-rap by their respective ends… and that’s a good thing.

With the amount of bumbling rappers nowadays, the duo deserve more praise for putting forth such a hip-hop cacophony. “Say My Name” bursts with mellow grooves and a guitar that refuses to stay bound to repetitive riffing… and “The Only One,” with a few hints of “Swimming Pools (Drank)” influence, steals my heart completely. The high-pitched voice and scatter-skitter drumming shows that New Zealand is more than capable of crushing our beloved American hip-hop.

I talked with Liam a few weeks back (Toby was off making money and working his bones off) about influences, how the group came together, and the state of the music industry today. These guys will only continue to improve and push their sound forward… I highly suggest a listen.

HG: Where were you when you guys wrote “Say My Name?”

L: Toby came round to mine after lunch one day. We just chilled in my bedroom jamming some tunes. I showed Toby a chord progression I’d been working on, then he merged a beat from one of his projects into mine. It started to fit together so we wrote lyrics, and the song came about pretty quickly after that.

HG: Who are your biggest influences?

L: The biggest influences for me have been Kendrick Lamar, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Outkast, and James Blake. All of those dudes have had a unique or original way in which they wrote their music, they all have their own original sound and vibe. It feels so refreshing to jam to them, they all do/did their own thing.

HG: Describe your perfect breakfast.

L: Easy. It’d have to be eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, long black coffee with a flat white for afterward.

HG: When did you first start playing together? It started on a Friday, right?

L: Yeah! (laughs) Lazy Friday morning – once we both got our hangovers under control, Toby came over and we had our first jam… which turned out to be productive enough to call for a second music session.

HG: Besides making music, what are your favorite things to do?

L: I BMX whenever it’s fine and I’m not making music – apart from that i play a lot of football. The Taka boys are still tight, we still see a lot of the friend group from school around work, uni, whatever people have got on at the time. summer’s always easier to find things to do, surfing and beaches in general are a lot more appealing in warm weather (laughs).

HG: What can fans expect from seeing you in concert? What is LAKES like LIVE?

L: LAKES is way better live, because I enjoy playing live so much more. I can only hope some of my enthusiasm rubs off onto someone who’s watching – maybe it’ll help people understand the music more when they see what it means to us to express ourselves live. The expression we can’t communicate via audio we get to show when we play it live.

HG: How do you feel about the state of music today?

L: In my opinion, there’s a lot of superficial and shallow music out and about today.
Iguess that’s why old music catches my attention, because they mean what they say. that being said, there’s some rad new music being made – if it keeps this way we’ll have something to remember from our generation.

HG: Random question: what is your favorite kind of plant?

L: Okay.. I like oak trees. There’s something so majestic and serene about them.

HG: What was the first album you ever bought?

L: That would’ve been Stevie Ray Vaughan – Texas Flood. Incidentally, that’s what got me into playing guitar too.

HG:  How do you know when to end a song?

L: When I’ve got nothing more I need to say (laughs).

HG: Tell me about Toby’s (should be “our”, we both make the beats) beat making process.

L: We both make beats in our own time, and then when we chill we’ll show each other the ideas we’ve made – we’ll just work on ideas that we both vibe together until there’s nothing more we want to add or change.

HG: When did you start getting into hip-hop?

L: When I first heard Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid MAAD City. I started digging into more and more hip-hop and it’s been an exponential increase since then. So much innovation, and lyrically it’s a step ahead of anything else I can think of.

HG: What can we expect from you in the future?

L: A lot more music. I’ve still got things I want to say, and making music is fun. As long as it stays that way, expect more material from us two.

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