Wednesday, 28 March 2018

INTERVIEW: Low Island

A second interview! Pretty excited about this one... I'm following up the Fil Bo Riva interview from a couple of weeks ago with a chat with another of my favourite artists at the minute, the wonderful Low Island! I caught up with Jamie (vocals, guitar and keys) to discuss the band's recent (and brilliant) This Other Life EP, their collaborative approach to live shows in the run up to their Scala headline and an upcoming support tour with the Gengahr boys. Get reading...


Hey! Firstly, how and when did you guys meet, and how long has Low Island in its current form existed?

Hi! We’ve all known each other - and made music together - pretty much our whole lives. I think we must have been about 13 once we all knew one another. Low Island formed properly just under two years ago. We'd all played in bands and been DJs together growing up, then we decided to start a project that brought together those two worlds: indie songwriting and electronic dance music.

You released the This Other Life EP a couple of weeks ago after teasing us with various singles over the last few months. How does it feel to finally have it out in the world?! How was the process of making the EP, especially fitting it alongside a fairly busy year of touring in 2017?

It’s really great to have it out after all this time. It came together quite differently to the first two EPs, which were mostly made up of songs that existed before we launched Low Island. Last summer, we took all our gear to this tiny cottage on the edge of a moor in Exmoor and just bunkered down to write loads of new music. We often go there to focus 'cos there’s no neighbours, signal or wi-fi. Somehow, it was absolutely freezing, despite the national heat-wave that was happening at the time...we were having to make fires in June!

We then went and recorded it all in a proper studio, which was a first for us. We were lucky enough to work with engineer Joe Hartwell Jones, who really helped us achieve the sound we were after. The timing of it all was pretty tight, as we were simultaneously playing loads of great festivals, so we’d be working in the studio then driving off to the Lake District to play Kendall Calling Festival, then returning to the studio at 05:00!

What are your favourite tunes (as a band or individually) from the EP to play live and why?

That’s a really hard one. They’re genuinely all fun to play… we even found a way for the whole band to play Tomorrow, which always seem to go down well. I suppose we particularly like playing Too Young, because we’re able to make quite a massive sound without too many instruments or parts going on.


If the recent shows at Corsica Studios were anything to go by I’m certain that you’ll have some pretty exciting plans up your sleeves for the upcoming London headline show at Scala… anything that you can talk about without spoiling it for us?

We can’t wait for Scala, it’s going to be the biggest thing we’ve ever done, and by such a long way. We're currently planning some really exciting non-musical things to take place in and amongst the great acts we’ve got with us (Fran Lobo, Wendy Rae Fowler and Sykoya).

I guess all I can say is that we’re gonna incorporate some art forms that we’ve never explored before.

It’s clear from your gigs and the recent mini documentary for DIY that you’re a band who love to join forces with others - it’s one of my favourite things about you, the inherent desire to collaborate. Why do you think that it is so important to you to work alongside not only other musicians but artists in areas such as design and movement when putting on a live show?

It honestly just felt like a really natural thing for us to do. It all sort of started this time last year, when we’d made this soundscape for a friend’s choreography piece, and we thought they should perform it at our show at Electrowerkz…so they did. We’ve basically been expanding on that concept ever since: how can we bring exciting and refreshing performances to the traditional gig experience, and how can we use the venue space in creative ways. The collaborative aspect is something we really enjoy; as it’s always fascinating seeing how minds work within different artistic fields. Also, it’s hard enough trying to get a foothold in the arts today, so it feels good to join forces and make stuff together.

As well as the upcoming Scala show you’ve got an exciting string of UK dates coming up as main support for the mighty Gengahr this April and May. A support tour is similar to a festival in that the audiences won’t necessarily know your music before the show - how do you approach shows like that?

We’re so stoked to support Gengahr and to go on our first UK support tour. At shows like this, we will probably feel a lot like the new kid at school, but you sort of have to deal with the situation in the same way: be yourself and be confident.


What are the plans for after the tour? A tiny bit of world domination, perhaps? Or maybe some festivals?

I love the idea of "a tiny bit of world domination”... I’m picturing some sort of village dictatorship. We’ll be doing lots of writing and recording and then some festivals. We’re particularly excited about playing the main stage at Common People Oxford this year. If I can get away, I’m gonna try and fulfil a recent dream, which is to swim to the real Low Island, which is about a mile out in the Atlantic off the coast of West Cork, Ireland.

Finally - what music is in your headphones or in the tour van stereo at the minute? Any local Oxford artists you want to shout about? For me it’s got to be BE GOOD and Catgod!

I’ve really been enjoying Boxed In’s Pushing On EP from last year, Rosebud by U.S. Girls, and bless ur heart by serpentwithfeet. My feel good tune at the moment is definitely It Makes You Forget (Itgehane) by Peggy Gou… give it a listen. Yeah, BE GOOD and Catgod are fantastic! Nightbus and Home In Your Heart are my personal favourites from each. We’ve got so much love for Willie J Healey too… it’s a great time for Oxford music!

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