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WeekendNotes Interview with Lester the Fierce

Home > Brisbane > Art | Music
by Leona (Devaz) Fensome (subscribe)
Savour | Capture | Write www.leonadevaz.com
Published April 28th 2014
Lester the Fierce aka Anita the Brave
Lester the Fierce a.ka. Anita Lester a.ka. probably the most thought-provoking Australian female artist around, has an innate ability to not only permeate your heart with her lilting lyrics, but potentially disrupt. In a good way of course.

Currently doing solo rounds, a recent reshuffle in her band has created space for Lester to experiment with a new performance style for audiences. Keen to know what that is? You'll need to get along to one of her intimate gigs.

Lester the Fierce
Lester the Fierce


If you're unfamiliar with Lester the Fierce, it's time to be enriched.



With her EP launched in January this year, Lester the Fierce [LTF] has been touring with artists like Ed Kowalczyk who many will remember as frontman of iconic band LIVE, Ngaiire and more recently supporting James Reyne. A dive into her website needs no explanation, hard-working and devoted to her art, music is the elixir that runs through LTF's veins.

"I'm at the awkward stage of my career where I am successful on a certain level and I am getting offers, I'm not making much money yet – as the venues I'm playing in are amazing, but they are still not the kind of venues that you get paid a lot for. It's a funny time, I am sort of hoping this is going to solve a few problems. I get offered tours every couple of weeks that I have to say no to, opportunities that you don't normally get. It is so sad, because some of the people that have approached me, I've really looked up to and it is completely flattering to me – but there is just no way. So I am hoping that this is going to change things."

LTF is a project that started six months ago, although Lester has been moonlighting under this name for the last two years. Comprised mainly of session musicians, she sites fellow members Louis and Justin as being, "phenomenal musicians, both of them have really good names for themselves, they both play with various bands and when I do my full band version of what I am doing now they are going to be playing with me."

Heavily influenced by dark whimsy and Eastern European folk tales, the name 'Lester the Fierce' is derived from the idea of a mythical children's children book character. Lester explains, "in about year eight we studied the culture of the fairytale and since then I have been completely enamoured by it and I read – anyone who knows me, knows my book collection is an endless amount of random fairytales from all around the world." An accomplished children's book illustrator, she confesses, "I seriously have been collecting them since I was about 15. And I schlep them around with me every time I move house, it's terrible. I've got nothing and I've got my books."

Expression through art is a staple force for Lester although the performance side of the equation has been fraught with a different set of intricacies. "I've had a bit of an interesting history with performing, as I haven't always done it. I was really into acting when I was younger and I got a drama scholarship in high school. The teacher completely f**ked me up, he knocked it out of me and I never was able to be on stage again."

Unable to recollect the exact nature of what happened, she explains that during the process of breaking the incident down, it was became clear to her it was anxiety and just not being ready. Her early 20's saw the foray into music as a starting point for to resolve this apprehension, "I just couldn't perform and everyone [friends and family] said 'Anita you gotta let go on stage, it is hard to watch.' And I got it, I stopped and regrouped for a few years. It's hard, you gotta be really self-aware."



The recording of ethereal song 'Howl' proved to be a cathartic turning point, "the recording of Howl was the first time in my life – I am not even kidding you – that I ever sung like that. That I ever wailed like that, it's kind of like a funny thing to talk about. It's quite emotional, I had something incredibly difficult happen and the recording was done the day after it happened. It was just like, I didn't give a s**t about anything anymore. It was just this complete letting go process."

The main thing that changed is the way Lester sings, "I now have a huge voice that I never thought I had and now, that's the biggest thing people say to me. I can't believe that comes out of your body." Lester the Fierce has the potential to fill a big room and connect with audiences on a much deeper level and this is critically important for Lester, both as an artist and as a performer, "you have to believe what you are singing, as soon as you don't, it doesn't connect to people. That's all it is at the end of the day, it's the same in art, it's the same in music. It's the same in any career. Not everyone feels the same thing."

And not everyone feeling the same thing is poetically true. Lester sites the irony of not receiving negative praise an interesting paradox, "I don't think I've ever had a really bad review in my life, which is f**ked up because I've definitely played badly and I've definitely not been ready as well. People are too afraid to say what they really think. Oh no that is not true! I just read my first bad review recently and it was exciting. Finally!"

With a cohort of musician friends in the fold, Lester explains this is a common topic point of discussion, "50% if not more, are probably musicians and they all post their reviews on Facebook and Twitter and quote from them - they are all just like so outrageously positive it can't be true. It can't be that good, and if it was that good – they would be way more successful – everyone is too scared to step on people's toes."

Lester raises a pertinent and none-too challenged angle on the Australian music landscape. It is this mental acuity and clear-cut observations, that make Lester a unique breed of artist. While many chase the elusive moniker of authenticity, some, like Lester are living homages to their work. A former film student, her video clips are stomping grounds for this powerful expression and visual narrative to take centre stage. The production is exquisite and each a hallmark of her creativity.

"My album is a concept album, about ghosts and the best way I can personally relate is that I'll have an image and I'll work around that. For example January is about a one night stand, I broke it down – all of the feelings and the imagery about that experience. I am more naturally a visual person than I am any other kind of person. I guess what I do is paint the picture, and then I write to the picture and I never go outside of that, sometimes it'll be lyrics first or sometimes it'll be picture first. I love that, I think I connect to people who see that."

For Lester, touring has unleashed a new found sense of self and platform to cast out her work, "it's weird saying this about myself but I am very kind of free and move on stage – I don't know – I lose myself a little bit and I think that vulnerability is more to do with who you are in that situation. Solo for me, has been the biggest hurdle. Because I've done it so much now in the last six months, I've probably played like 50 gigs. The difference between when I started out and now is huge. I can see the audience, when you breathe and when you're feeling it, like on a real level, the audience can't not feel it."

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