A transgender keyboardist, guitarist, bassist, and vocalist, Lana Laws is a multi-talented innovator in her own right. The creative mind behind symphonic, instrumental, metal project, ‘Kalasin’, she’s gone from strength to strength in recent years, and now, to celebrate the release of ‘Kalasin’, we took the chance to talk about her past, present, and future directions.
Everyone has their own unique introduction to music; how did it all begin for you?
“I taught myself keyboards from the age of four or five, guitars from fifteen. I used to attend a church and one time cheekily went up to a piano and started messing around on it. Someone said I seemed to have a good ear for it naturally. I was driven towards guitars purely to accompany my keyboard compositions. I’ve always been driven to composing fresh pieces of music as opposed to learning the music of others.”
You’ve preciously described ‘Kalasin’ as having a symphonic, progressive sound. How would you describe your sound to a new listener?
“This is tough. Its uniquely mine. I write music that I would like to listen to, or whatever comes out of my mind at the time and whilst there may be similar nuances between my compositions. I don’t like to consider myself boxed in to any particular style or sound. I like a full arrangement though, why use four instruments when you can have ninety-six! The ‘Kalasin; album fits nicely into the “Symphonic/Orchestral/Progressive/Instrumental Metal” genres though.”
What is your songwriting process? How does it all come together?
“For me, from day one, I’ve never understood, or gelled with, the process of writing a song, learning it and then recording it. I’m most comfortable with opening up my Digital Audio Workstation to a new, blank, project and then hitting record and playing whatever comes to mind and then developing more instrumentation around it. I write as I go and then learn more about what I have randomly cast out as I go along the process and then develop the composition and embellishments.”
What’s the most important thing for you when you’re writing a song?
“Having all my instruments plugged in, in reach, and all things working. No technical issues. As described above, I don’t know what I’ll be writing, what instruments I’ll be needing so it needs to all be ready to go. Also, solitude. Also, cigarettes!”
What influences best define your music?
“In terms of artist influences: Pink Floyd, Yes, Rick Wakeman, Jean Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield, Marillion, Iron Maiden, Nightwish, Epica, Dimmu Borgir, Opeth, Dream Theatre - there are just so, so many artists that I love to mention. I also like a lot of world music and become obsessed about Arabic, Oriental sounds, instruments and scales and so forth.”
What’s next for Lana Laws?
“I’m working on “Kalasin 2” (working title) and have a couple of compositions under my belt already, I’m aiming for it to be even more diverse, more epic, of better production at the back end. I’m even undertaking an investment in guitar tuition in order to bring a higher level of musicianship to the table too. I’m also working on an electronic/dance album too. This will be released at the back end of this year.”
Now ‘Kalasin’ is out, what can you tell us about your next release?
“I have a dance/electronic project that I have been working on. I come from a rockier background so approaching dance music has been a huge fear of mine, from a composition and recording perspective as everything is just so, so different and much more use of technology. After being commissioned to write a piece in this vein I think I’ve found my way through and am coming up with some great tracks whilst still retaining my authenticity and quirkiness.”
What would you dream collaboration be?
“Such a difficult question to answer but I’d love composition time with Tuomas Holopainen of Nightwish. “
What advice would you give to band’s who are looking to make it big?
“Be authentic. Even if it what you come out with is not ‘current’ if its intrinsically you/your style - it’s going to flourish in the end. The most important thing is that your musical abilities and creations give you your own rewards, contentment and personal success. No one can ever take that away from you as its yours. You’ll then find that you’ll become more successful outwardly. People buy people, authentic people at that, so do your own thing.”
It's been great talking to you. One final question before you go; what has been your best moment as a musician/band so far?
“Finally, after years and years of building a studio, composing, selling everything to accommodate more traditional and expected life goals and then repeating the process – I’ve finally got to a point where I can accept that I am intrinsically a musician and that this must be a constant in my life. I’ve now put out a release of my own authentic works, off my own back, and people are digging it.”
‘Kalasin’ is out now on over ninety platforms, including Spotify, Bandcamp, Amazon Music, and iTunes. For all the latest from Lana, be sure to follow her on her social media below.