AU sophomore Eric Lo ‘promises’ major potential with band Wester Chester
Wester Chester talks latest releases, long distance music-making and plans for the future
College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Eric Lo and his bandmate Zane Rizvi-Riemer hit the ground running as they debuted their first song “SHE CALLED ME ON HER PHONE” last summer under the handle of Wester Chester. Since then, they have released three more songs, despite living in two different cities.
Although “indie-pop” is arguably the best way to categorize Wester Chester’s discography, the band’s music does not quite fit into a box. While “SHE CALLED ME ON HER PHONE” flaunts those early-2000s pop vibes that have definitely seen a comeback from singers like Olivia Rodrigo, “Different Person” sounds intrinsically new-age indie. The band’s December single “promises” features vocals evocative of Peter McPoland and has a certain weight that separates the track from the rest of Wester Chester’s discography. Each self-produced, Wester Chester’s songs share a distinct authenticity and a proclivity for blurring genre lines.
“We’ve always wanted to make music together,” New York University sophomore Zane Rizvi-Riemer told The Eagle. “We got back after the first year [of college] and started playing. The first time I went over to his house to start playing, we wrote our first song that we released a few months later, so it all happened that summer.”
In spite of the physical distance, Rizvi-Riemer described their song production as a collaborative process.
“We send each other demo recordings,” said Lo. “If either of us have ideas on a certain song, we record it on voice memos and then just text it to each other for opinions.”
This collaborative process ultimately led to the band’s newest single “promises.” Beginning with the soft chords of an acoustic guitar, Lo reminisces about “Catching frogs outside your house/ Lifting stones near your door/ Trying not to slip on the mildew as we hop from rock to rock.”
“‘promises’ was about a drifting friendship, like a childhood friendship where you were really close as a kid, and over time, you’re seeing you and the friend drift apart,” Lo said of the bittersweet anthem. “It’s reminiscing on the memories in the past.”
“promises,” full of gentle strumming and nostalgic lyrics, isn’t the only Wester Chester tune with a subtext of storytelling. The inspiration behind the band’s single “Different Person” also features lyrics that reflect real life experiences.
In this upbeat song, Lo sings, “I’m a whole different person babe/ Came up with a new purpose/ Flipping through the pages I don’t wanna go back/ Feel like it’s a waste yeah I’ll just carry on.”
Rizvi-Riemer credits the bandmates’ first year of college as the inspiration for this song.
“You completely just feel like a different person after your freshman year,” Rizvi-Riemer said.
Lo mentioned the pandemic also having an effect on the band’s perspective on life and their music.
“The pandemic made us more mature and self-aware and all these traits that wouldn’t be developed until later in life,” Lo said. “It made us think differently.”
Wester Chester’s musical influences — from Arcade Fire to Dominic Fike — are seen through the band’s poetic songwriting and classic indie sound, although their music so far has proven that Lo and Rizvi-Riemer have cultivated a signature acoustic sound that is all their own. With ambitions to release an album this summer, it’s clear Wester Chester has big plans for the future.
“We have a couple songs we’re sitting on, waiting to release,” Lo said. “We’re hoping to release an EP, or some sort of seven-song album by the summer. It’s been kind of hard recently because we’re in two different cities and we have college, internships, all that kind of stuff. But regardless of that, we’re really excited to put out the music we have.”