By Megan Hoff
Sisters Hannah, Mookie, and Bex Morton are the lead singers of LASKA, a Minneapolis-based band. Hannah and Mookie also play guitar, and Bex plays violin. They’re accompanied by Evan Middlesworth on the guitar and keys, Noah on Kittelson drums, and Robbie Weisshaar on bass. Read on about for inspiration behind their latest album name and how they each practice self-care.
Why did you decide to start a band?
Hannah:The three of us, we’re sisters, and our oldest sister recommended this song for us to cover one time. And that’s how it started originally.
Bex:Through our history teacher in high school, we met Evan. Our history teacher had told us we need to record our music, so we went out to Evan’s studio called Pine Hollow in Eau Claire. We met him and recorded a quick 13-hour EP, and then we just liked each other.
Mookie:We [sisters] all played violin when we were really young. That’s kind of how we got into the music stuff and just slowly branched out and learned other instruments.
You just released your latest EP, “In the Blossom of This” on Mar. 22. What’s the story behind the name?
Mookie:So a lot of the songs on the record are kind of about maybe negative emotions, or just like pain… those kind of anxious and depression vibes. We wanted people to understand that we don’t label ourselves as that type of people, but it’s kind of like the process of life… in the blossom of growth. They’re emotions that come and go and fluctuate.
“Coffee Naps” off of your new EP has some great lyrics about growth. Can you talk a little bit about the inspiration behind this song?
Bex:I wrote it in a time that I really needed some headspace. I would just kind of sit on the piano and just like hash it out. It was definitely a way to cope through a bad mental space that I was going through at that time.
Mookie:I didn’t write the song personally, but when Becca sent it to me, like just the recording on the piano… I like seriously cried. To me, the song really emphasizes when you’re in love with someone, and you feel like maybe they’re hurting you… but you don’t want to give up on them yet, because you know their heart.
This issue of The Wake focuses on healing and moving past trauma. If you’re comfortable sharing, how did you cope with something? What role, if any, did music play in that process?
Mookie:I feel like that’s the whole basis of it [the band] is for coping.
Hannah:Whenever I feel anything, I just try to write about it. I think not only does it make me feel better, but it makes me feel better knowing that like other people might be able to relate to it, and it might help other people feel better too.
What does your songwriting process look like?
Mookie:We write the core of the song. Sometimes, one of the sisters will add a verse or change a verse or add a bridge. But I like to say that all six of us do write the songs because the production process, and the bassline and the rhythm is like, it’s a lot of it, too. A song could completely change from what we bring into the studio by the time it’s finished.
What do you listen to when you’re sad?
Mookie:I listened to Yann Tiersen the whole car ride here. Not that I was sad, but that’s like a good outlet. Also Leonard Cohen.
Hannah:I like to listen to Sufjan Stevens when I’m sad.
Bex:Kind of a mix. Most of the time when I’m sad I’ll listen to Andy Shauf, Andrew Bird, or Kate Bush.
Robbie:I listen to Radiohead a lot, and also listen to Andy Shauf too when I’m in the dumps.
Evan:I’ll throw Elliott Smith in the mix.
Noah:I listen CCR [Creedence Clearwater Revival] for some reason when I’m sad… it reminds me of home.
What do you do when you want to practice self-care?
Hannah:I like to write or draw. Also, just light some incense, or take a bath, just chill-out stuff.
Mookie:I’m a sucker for peanut butter cookies… besides that, I really like walking, just like putting some headphones in and going on walks.
Bex:I’ll do pretty much anything just to get out of my head, so usually it’s some kind of walking or hiking. Drawing also.
Robbie:I like to paint when I have time. I’m not very good at it, but I like to do it.
Evan:I like to just do something that’s not loud. So, going for a walk, but just no music, or hiking. Just getting away from the hustle and bustle of it all. Especially being in so many different avenues of music and audio, silent time is very important.
Noah:I would say anything alone, just like alone time. A lot of the times I get that at work, so I’ll go back to work.
What is your favorite part about being in a band?
Hannah:My favorite part is the hanging, because we laugh so much. We’re just all jokesters together. It’s really nice to laugh, and I laugh with these people.
Mookie:It’s so nice to escape from the day job, like whenever we do weekend gigs like this. It’s so nice to just get out of the town that you’re always in.
Bex:I agree with what you guys were saying.
Robbie:I really enjoy being in the studio, obviously hanging too… it’s just so cool to see how a song can come from just an acoustic guitar, just a piano, and then just goes in this whole different direction. You just never know what’s going to happen.
Bex:Also, on that same note, another part I like is just experimenting in general with sound. Pushing sound past its original capability, and just evolving as a group, and growing off of each other with sounds.
Evan:I like the big picture of it all. Working with the sisters over the last few years, I haven’t really worked with a band that has as much drive as they do. So, for me, a big part of the fun is just the entire process, from the initial demos on the iPhone all the way through playing them live and in different cities, and just taking those small stair steps… to keep this thing going and to keep the vision alive. It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of drive that can bury a lot of bands. But this one, they just persevere, and it’s a really cool thing to experience and be a part of, and kind of share with each member.
Noah:I love how this band is set up, because we kind of have this notion, that Evan on guitar, Robbie on bass, and then me the drummer kind of support whatever the girls are singing and throwing out; that’s kind of our role. Playing in a band that’s configured like that is my favorite part, because it’s always nice to let the girls do their thing.
Hannah:I feel like it’s so common that someone will write songs, and then they’ll have really good musicians, but the important part is that these people are supporting us and listening, and they are also feeling it and adding to it in an emotional way.
Evan:All of that combined is a pretty undeniably good thing. It’s a hard thing to beat down or tear down. It’s a “we’re all in this together” mentality. You just sort of have that thought of like, “we want to take over the world” kind of thing, which seems far-fetched, but it’s just like the attitude. We just keep going.
Mookie:Yesterday we had a show, and it was getting pretty late, and I was so tired right before we played. As soon as we started, it was just like so much energy and just like all of the things that I never get to say to people or I never get to talk about or I never get to express, I get to do while we play together, and it’s just one of the best feelings.
LASKAwill be playing at the Pimento Jamaican Kitchen in Minneapolis on Apr. 29.