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Feature

Lande Hekt: "It's quite upbeat but still has the sad and gay vibes that I strive for"

For her second solo album, LANDE HEKT is looking inwards.
Published: 2:17 pm, September 29, 2022Words: Alex Bradley. Photos: Martyna Wisniewska / Gingerdope.
Lande Hekt: "It's quite upbeat but still has the sad and gay vibes that I strive for"

It's getting on for a couple of years now since both Lande Hekt and her debut album, 'Going To Hell', came out. "It was really exciting," she reflects now as she approaches her second solo full-length. "Things felt different.

"There were lots of things that changed my life for the better; it felt like a big deal. Then, after a while, it felt like almost nothing at all, and it became a real normalised thing. That's kind of the best thing I could hope for."

"It felt really exciting and new, and now it feels comfortable and… not boring, but it is what it is," she explains.

"I'm sure a lot of queer people and gay people who come out build it up in their head and think certain things. And, for the most part, none of those negative things happened.

"It was a great experience, and, for me, it's important for me to share that because it might be important for people to know. It's obviously not great for everyone, but a lot of the things that I was worried about didn't necessarily happen," she continues.

Leap forward to now, and she's thriving. Lande and her girlfriend have a small but feisty cat, Lola, who rules the streets of Bristol where they live. The cat has a song in its honour on the new album, too. Lande's busier than ever with music and other jobs and projects. Confidence is at an all-time high, and, as she headed into the studio last autumn, she was more prepared than ever, demos at the ready, to record the next chapter of this life.

'House Without A View' documents all that time that followed after coming out. The first single and introduction to the album, 'Gay Space Cadets', was selected as it's the perfect cross-section of where Lande is on this record. "It's quite upbeat and quite lighthearted in places but still has the sad and gay vibes that I strive for," she laughs. That's the album in a nutshell: sad and gay vibes galore.

The wholesome closer 'First Girlfriend' is pretty loud and proud, while a track like 'Cut My Hair' finds Lande confronting her gender and how to find comfort in her skin. For someone who has always worn their heart on their sleeve, it finds a way of going deeper than anything before, thanks to her ethereal falsetto performance.

"There is nowhere to hide in that song," she admits. "It's the one I was nervous about recording in the style we did, but I did stick with it and not decorate it too much."

And, as for the sad vibes, there are plenty that weigh on the middle of the album too. 'Always Hurt' maps out panic attacks while 'Ground Shaking' is vulnerable and worried about the golden days ending.

"We're going through such an unbelievably terrifying time, not just in terms of localised politics, but in a global sense"
Lande Hekt

There's a complete sonic shift too. "I wanted to make an indie-pop record," Lande states. And that's exactly what she has done. Sometimes, life is simple like that.

Inspired by 90s shoegazers like The Sundays, honey-coated guitars flood the album and, in turn, pull off this breezy, summery feel that is a million miles away from the punk-edged stylings that are often associated with Lande or her band, Muncie Girls.

"It's so bright that it's a bit sickly," she adds, discussing the saccharine quality of the album. "But I really love that sound."

Achieved by bubbly rhythm guitars walking hand-in-hand with the acoustic guitar, less cymbals but more percussion and the space for her vocals to take centre stage, Lande Hekt, the storyteller and singer, is allowed to shine.

What you'd normally expect from Lande would often be some sort of scathing political commentary, but 'House Without A View' is much more introspective.

"It's quite obvious in this set of songs that I've not delved into politics,' she concedes. But it isn't because she doesn't think there is anything to shout about; if anything, there is too much.

"It's one of those things where we're going through such an unbelievably terrifying time, not just in terms of localised politics, but in a global sense, we are wondering if we are going to die from nuclear war or climate change. One of the two is definitely going to get us, if not our children. And it just came out of nowhere; the reality that life is almost unliveable happened in a period of about two years."

While, on the one hand, her understanding of environmental politics is growing as we all sweat through a summer of record temperatures and droughts, there is an element of not having the energy to tread old ground with another song about Tories and party politics. Like most of us now, it's sometimes too draining to keep up with.

"I commend people who are still pushing on with political issues so much," she continues. "But, for me, it's become such a challenge to stay…you have to read and talk about these issues every day to stay on top of things. My mental health isn't strong enough to keep doing that every single day, and I've not wanted to be pushing that onto people at this point because it's just too much. I do think it's important that people still do that. I wish it could be me doing that now with music, but it has just become too scary and overwhelming."

Instead, the album focuses on the positives in Lande's life. Even in those sad times - the panic attacks, the paranoia it's all going to fall apart, or processing childhood trauma like in the title-track - there is a level of optimism and self-assurance that keeps the album on a level.

In the end, life continues to look pretty good for Lande. She is heading out to Canada for the first time to support Laura Jane Grace on tour. Muncie Girls keep talking about writing together soon. She is already writing what comes next; such is the skill of being able to translate her life into song like some musical diary.

"I do feel like the trick for me is to keep going with writing. I'm quite scared of having a break that turns into writer's block. I definitely don't want that," she adds, which probably means we are probably never too far away from something new.

Oh, and as if that's not enough, she has just started her own label too. Prize Sunflower Records was the "big learning curve" Lande undertook as she decided to set up the label for the album's release.

It's a tired cliché that "life begins at the end of your comfort zone", but Lande Hekt is a glorious example of that. As for 'House Without a View', it is the sound of how good life can be once you embrace who you really are. 

Taken from the October issue of Upset. Lande Hekt's album 'House Without A View' is out 23rd September.

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