SCOTS group LaKyoto are hoping to one day play in the city that inspired their name.
And while Kyoto was chosen to be part of their band name via a quick browse of Google Maps, it turned out that the Japanese city has a fitting significance to the Edinburgh four-piece’s roots.
Speaking to The Sunday Post, lead singer Conor Joss explains that their criteria for choosing a new name was that it would have a city in it, and that it would be ‘cool’.
“When we found Kyoto we realised that as a city it’s very similar to Edinburgh, where we’re all based,” he says.
“With the preservation of the pre-war architecture it’s very similar to the Old Town.
“Kyoto is a very industrial looking city and on the outskirts the nature is so beautifully coloured and there’s all sorts of different plant life.
“We thought it would be cool to kind of merge the two of those in the image of the band as well.
“And we added the La because it was cool, basically!”
It turns out Conor actually has family living fairly close to the one time capital of Japan – perhaps providing a free place to stay when the group finally make their pilgrimage there.
“We’ve not been but now that it’s such a big part of our band it’s the main goal now to actually get there,” Conor admits.
Before thoughts of travelling to far off lands were on their minds, the group first met at college in Edinburgh.
Joining Conor in the band are Scott Cowie on guitar and keys, Kieran Lewis on bass plus programming, and drummer Kyle Francis Grieve.
All of them have been playing music for most of their lives, first picking up their instruments as kids.
“We did four years at college studying music together, and we only actually formed the band in the last year,” Conor says. “We’d been in other bands and we all decided we wanted to work together on something new.
“This one’s really different in many ways. We’d all just been in guitar bands previously and this is the first band we’ve all been in when we’ve started introducing synths and stuff.
“It’s been interesting working with a new sound that we weren’t used to at the start because we’ve had to teach ourselves how to use all the technology involved in that too.
“Plus all the other bands we’ve been in before were just school bands or college bands, not necessarily playing to many people. We started to pick up a bit of interest with this band so that was quite new for us!”
LaKyoto was wild last night. Well done Edinburgh.
Posted by Breathe Underwater Artist Management on Monday, 2 April 2018
When it comes to musical influences, the four members listen to a lot of the same bands and have a similar understanding when it comes to shaping the LaKyoto sound.
“As the singer there are certain bands that influence me personally, the likes of Everything Everything, Nothing But Thieves, I really look up to their vocalists,” Conor explains.
“I know the guys are very into bands like Prides, The Killers, any band that uses the same synth, punchy pop sounds.
“The four of us will basically listen to anything, There’s no prejudices, whoever it’s by doesn’t matter. If it’s a good song we’ll try to find a way to learn something from it if we can.”
When asked about LaKyoto’s own sound, Conor describes it as “big sounds, punchy poppy songs and quite uplifting, usually”
He adds: “If I had to compare it with other bands I’d say a cross between Everything Everything, The 1975, and bands like Foals.
“Obviously we don’t like to compare it to other people, and try to keep it entirely our own thing.
“We listen to as much music as possible and try to compress everything into one song and put our twist on it as well.”
The first song the band released in their current guise was Runaway in March of last year. The aim was, Conor says, to introduce themselves a bit before they got to work on shaping how they wanted to band to be.
They spent a year working on their sound and their live set, with a post on the band’s Facebook page at the end of last year promising to make 2018 the year of LaKyoto.
After their ‘admin year’, Heart Beats Loud was released a couple of months ago.
“Having left it so long we were a bit worried about how the single might go down, but it’s done a lot better than we thought it would if we’re being honest!” Conor laughs.
“We’ve gained a few more fans since the last song and a lot of people are saying they like this one a bit more so we’re looking forward to building from there a bit.”
Heart Beats Loud is out on Spotify! 🔥Save it to your playlists and start the party! Love x
Helping them build will be a trip to the Highlands at the end of the month.
The band are one of a number of acts heading to Inverness on June 27 and 28 for the XpoNorth creative industries festival.
“It’s a really important one,” Conor says. “I think the best thing about it is that there’s no massive bands at it.
“It’s all local bands, some that are doing really well and some that are just starting out and then bands like ourselves who are maybe in the middle trying to push a bit higher up.
“We’ve never been before and we’re really looking forward to it. All the conferences and industry talks through the day are really important as well. It’s worthwhile getting up there, even if you’re not playing it.”
LaKyoto are aiming to release a few more songs throughout the rest of the year, although Conor admits a full album isn’t in the offing yet.
“We’ve definitely got a few more singles lined up which we’ll hopefully put out this year,” he reveals.
“We’ve also got a few gigs in the pipeline at the moment. The last year was very about writing songs and doing all the boring stuff, getting the show ready, how we want the band to look.
“This year we’re ready to finally actually start getting out there, playing more shows and getting music out and see if we can build up a fanbase.”
Find out more about the band on their Facebook page here.