Preaching From The Pews: Lontalius

Sometimes when you’re searching around SoundCloud for new music, you come across a slew of mellow covers by people with acoustic guitars and it can get quite tedious, quite quickly.  But that’s not the case when listening to the early releases of New Zealand teenager Eddie Johnston, better known under the moniker Lontalius.

Like many others, he began by recording stripped-back covers of his favourite rappers and R&B stars and uploading them to SoundCloud.  From Ty Dolla $ign to Young Thug, Beyoncé and Ciara, there seemingly wasn’t anything Johnston wouldn’t touch. Plus, there was Drake.  A lot of Drake.  Unlike some other artists, though, these weren’t standard acoustic reworks of his favourite artists’ songs.  Johnston’s laid-back vocals echoed some of the people he was covering, but he also decided to put a folk-inspired spin on to his versions.  His reworking of Beyoncé’s ‘XO’ relied on a haunting organ as a foundation, and he managed to make Pharrell’s all-conquering ‘Happy’ borderline depressive thanks to some seriously minimal beats and mournful vocals.

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His brand of early-hours folk with an effortless R&B tinge soon earned him a slew of fans.  He’s already collaborated with the aforementioned Ty Dolla $ign, contributed songs for Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs series and provided vocals for his song ‘Walk Me Home,’ as well as working with the likes of DJ Dahi on his dance side-project Race Banyon.

After two years of releasing covers and participating in collaborations, Johnston is preparing to release his debut album of original material, I’ll Forget 17.  The lead tracks from the LP show that he’s taking what he’s learned and focusing it all into his often poignant songs. ‘Kick In The Head’ is one of his most musically rich songs to date, sounding almost like Coldplay at their most forlorn thanks to its propulsive, nagging guitars and a smattering of piano.  ‘All I Wanna Say’ wears its influences on its sleeve.  Using minimal beats and hazy, almost rapped vocals, it echoes Drake’s ‘Marvin’s Room’ with its mournful tone. ‘Glow,’ which has just been given a video directed by Arty Papageorgiou, is probably the closest Johnston has ever gotten to sounding to happy.  Weaving a tale of how love and honesty can lift you out of the darkness, its atmospheric tone owes a lot to bands like Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJeq1vBUZXo]

With his experiences of being a teenager channelled into his deceptively simple lyrics and a sound that blends the best of two seemingly disparate worlds, Lontalius’ debut album looks set to set him even further apart from the crowd.

I’ll Forget 17 is released on 25th March.




God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.