They've just released their debut mixtape - but the trio have already moved on
A couple of days before our meeting, I’m CC’d into an email thread with Lewis Rainsbury and Luke Brennan, aka Lifestyle. It’s a fairly standard formality and something I’ve done a hundred times; “Does 6 o’clock work? Where suits you?” The usual. What I notice, however, is how quickly the guys reply, and how much thought goes into their responses. What’s more, they even have their own ideas for the photo shoot. What’s more, the ideas are really good. They’ve thought about the lighting, they’ve thought about alternative locations based on the time of day.
Indeed, the second I emerge from Bermondsey station I have a call from Brennan telling me the pub we agreed to meet at is closed, and that I should go to another one down the road. A punctual musician is a rare commodity – and something I’m immediately grateful for – but there’s something more going on with Lifestyle than just good timekeeping. As Brennan later explains, the pair (who have recently been joined by third member Adrian) have made a decision to approach this project with the same discipline and rigour as they would if they were punching in for a 9-5: “Every day we sit and we start answering emails before we go through all the songs that we’ve done.”
“We push each other to do shit,” agrees Rainsbury. “You’ve got to do something. Keeping our brains healthy is something important for both of us.”
For the latter, this is a second bite at the cherry. One third of erstwhile dream poppers Vondelpark, he worked as an A&R scout for the group’s label, R&S Records, all the while developing the hazy, RnB-infused pop that has emerged on Lifestyle’s forthcoming debut mixtape, ‘Calm FM’ (streaming now). Brennan, on the other hand, is newer to the industry and his enthusiasm shines through straight away. Having played in various punk bands, he always found that working with Rainsbury felt more natural, and ultimately much more worthwhile. “Me and Lewis have been making music for about ten years; since we were kids. We wanted to do something that helps people be positive,” he says, his eyes creasing into a smile behind his sunglasses. “That was the first thing – rather than wallowing. The last band I was in I was a teenager being extremely angry. When you’re locked in a tiny room with four other guys, you’re angry and you’re making other people angry. Now we dance all the time in the studio.”
While the relationship has undoubtedly been productive from a creative point of view, their strict approach to the development of their art has also helped them psychologically. “Your brain’s just a muscle and you’ve got to use it,” says Brennan. “If you don’t have the discipline of something like school, as an artist you’ve got to be able to have discipline in what you’re doing. That’s something that’s come with time. The more you engage your brain – the more you read and stuff – the stronger it gets.”
As I become more attuned to the dynamic between the pair, it’s clear that Brennan is the more outspoken, with Rainsbury happier to sit back and take it in, usually chipping in to sum things up in one succinct sentence. “It’s a coping mechanism in itself,” he says of the music they make together, and it’s obvious that he means it.
These days a lot of bands tend to mention the sorry state of politics as the inspiration for their work. Trump and the Tories are tossed around haphazardly as artistic currency, even if there is seemingly no connection between them and their music. Though Lifestyle are certainly no fans of the above, the stimuli for their music is subtler, taking the internal as their muse. Mental health is clearly a subject that is top of mind. “It’s so hard to put labels on people and say that they’re a paranoid schizophrenic or they have bipolar disorder, when really every brain is so different,” says Brennan. “If you use a blanket drug to cure each one, it isn’t the right approach. It’s trial and error with the drugs and they need to make the mistakes to learn. It’s in vogue or whatever but it’s a huge issue for this generation and I think people are stepping up.”