E.C. Beats

Exploring the sound of local artists. This week: Laska


Photo by Sydney Purpora

The three lead vocalists, Bex Morton (left), Hannah Morton (middle) and Mookie Morton (right) along with their electric guitarist, Evan Middlesworth (far left), performed a set compiled of their originals from their first EP and singles.

Hip-hop, folk-rock and indie-folk don’t usually mix well when creating music, but for these three sisters it does.

The Eau Claire-based group Laska, compiled of a trio of sisters, brings together a variety of musical tastes and skills into one genre they describe as “alternative-rock with heavy melodies.”

All three of the sisters, 21-year-old Hannah Mae Morton, 19-year-old Bex Morton and 18-year-old Mookie Morton, are at different points in their lives. However, they all agreed music will remain fluid between the three of them.

“It has been the driving point of any decision we made,” Bex said. “Music is everything. I wouldn’t be myself without it.”

Because the Morton sisters were home-schooled, they said growing up singing together in church and taking violin lessons became their “social getaway” and an escape from everyday tasks. Hannah Mae, who currently attends UW-Eau Claire, credits her ambition and work ethic to playing violin for an hour everyday and taking lessons twice a week.

Although music played an avid role in their childhoods, they said Laska’s start was abrupt and progressed quickly.

Mookie said their older sister who is not in the band, Meredith, sent the three of them a YouTube video of Lennon and Maisy Stella singing a cover of “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn & Erato and told them they should give it a try.

Starting off by making a cover of the song together four years ago, the idea grew bigger and bigger as they began to learn new instruments and work on pieces of their own.

“It pretty much evolved in one day,” Bex said. “I don’t even know how to describe it.”

The sisters brought on an electric guitarist, Evan Middlesworth, in 2015 and soon after recording their first EP in 13 hours time, the group continued to develop. Later, they added two more members, Zach Brawford on drums and Ethan Schmidt on bass.

Middlesworth thought of the name Laska and presented it to the sisters. Although it does not have a direct meaning related to the group, each sister has a personal experience with the name.

Laska’s first performance took place in Eau Claire at Spring Fest, where they performed all cover songs a cappella. The trio has now broadened their horizons with music, performing only originals with a variety of instruments like the banjo, violin and mandolin. Their most recent show was held at The Lakely Thursday, Feb. 9.

Mookie said performing on stage with her sisters has pushed her outside her comfort zone, allowing her to become more comfortable with it.

“Whenever I have to talk in front of people, I get super scared and anxious,” Mookie said. “But then we are playing or singing, it doesn’t even bother me at all.”

While their musical journey is still in the beginning stages, Mookie said they have more work to do and they are taking their time to make sure their songs are just how they like.

Writing songs has always been a group effort for the Morton sisters. Mookie said when each song is made, Mookie said oftentimes it starts out being written by just one of them before it is either brought right to practice as is, or it becomes a collaboration between two or all three of the sisters.

The songs they perform, are from the heart, and Hannah Mae said she feels that having these types of songs allows them to connect with the audience on another level.

“There are so many things you can say in a song, that you can’t just say (in conversation),” Hannah Mae said. “People can relate to it so much easier because you can be that honest. If you sing it in a way that people can understand, then they can feel it with you.”

As they move forward, Hannah Mae said the group hopes to continue to play shows and create music. They are currently working on a full album that will be released in May 2017.

Looking back at how music has influenced her life, Hannah Mae said she is content with the choices she has made and credits music for her happiness.

“They always say ‘don’t put all of your eggs in one basket,’” Hannah Mae said. “I was worried for a little because all of my happiness eggs are in music. But now I accept it because there are a lot of great things in life, but music is the driving force.”

For more information about the band go to their website. Laska’s music can be found on Spotify, iTunes and Soundcloud.