Vostok Lake began as a musical project in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2007. It is the brainchild of Daphne Lawless, a self-described "renaissance woman trying to start a renaissance". Backing vocalist and percussionist Tricia Hall was added in the studio in 2015, and to the live act starting from 2018. Daphne Lawless says that Vostok Lake's ambitions "nothing less than starting a new revolution in popular music as we know it."
Vostok Lake creates music according to the "Weightless Music" ethos. It uses open-source software and consumer-standard equipment, without any involvement with professional studios.
"Vostok Lake is 100% within the Kiwi do-it-yourself tradition", says Lawless. "Electronic, open-source music is the wave of the 21st century. It's democratic, and it's punk. We aim to be totally independent from the music industry - and to prove that anyone can create good quality electronic popular music with a minimum of financial outlay."
When Vostok Lake performs live, Daphne and Tricia's vocals and instruments are backed up by live sequencing from a laptop, with nothing pre-recorded. A feature of a Vostok Lake set is the "interactive solo", where Daphne straps on a wireless keyboard and walks out into the audience - sometimes inviting audience members to play the keyboard themselves. "We aim to destroy the contradiction between audience and performer," says Daphne.
Lawless admits to 80's synth-pop influences such as Kate Bush, Gary Numan and Depeche Mode; a sneaking love of 70's progressive rock, in particular Genesis, King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator; and the Kiwi art-pop tradition, bands such as early Split Enz, the Chills or Look Blue Go Purple.
"What we really want to be," says Daphne, "is folk music for the 21st century - the songs of overeducated young people who work unstimulating office jobs and waste too much time on the internet."
Vostok Lake has released one full-length album, Small Group Psychosis (2010), and a shorter disk of comedy material, Magical Internet (2008). The second Vostok Lake album, Comics and Stories, is currently being recorded.
Vostok Lake plays as often as it can in Auckland, and toured both North and South Islands of New Zealand extensively during 2010/11. Vostok Lake also helped to found The Electric Salon, an "underground electronic variety show" in Auckland and Wellington, for "fans of music and performance which has outgrown the ordinary."
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About The Band
Daphne originally comes from Wellington, where she played keyboards in various indie bands. Discovering Depeche Mode's Black Celebration album led to a major breakthrough, as she adopted sequencers and struck out as a solo act. She signed with independent publishing house Random Static in 2001, and adopted the name of Vostok Lake for her musical project in 2007. When not making music, Daphne is a political activist, football goalkeeper, science fiction fan and cat lover, and has a PhD in New Zealand literature. Daphne and Tricia have been married since November 2014 and live with their daughter in Western Springs, Auckland.
About the name
Lake Vostok lies under four miles of ice in Antarctica, heated by underground streams. No-one knows whether life exists in it or not. Daphne Lawless adopted this name to reflect the themes of her music - "the cold of the electronics meets the subterranean warmth of the songwriting, and the whole thing is very mysterious."