Last week I had the privilege of interviewing Katy and Luke of Elder Island, two members of the three-piece band. Elder Island are a special band; a technically advanced group of integrated musicians who constantly move forward and experiment with sounds. This up-and-coming band resides on the cusp of the mainstream, with a few of their tracks oscillating around the 10-million stream mark. The band released their debut album, The Omnitone Collection, in February this year, and it is available on all major streaming services.
Daniel: So how did you all meet?
Katy: I met Luke at uni – UWE in Bristol, we were in halls together then we got a house together. Dave and Luke have been friends since childhood round he was always around. We all did arts courses, so we were sort of an art band jamming together…learning electronics…. very soundscapey. When we released our first self-titled EP it all sort of took off!
D: What’s the story behind your name? Have you Ever Changed it?
K: We must’ve gone through a thousand names! At one point we were called Kingdom, we had a French name for a bit…Honestly. we settled on Elder Island because we needed a name with an available domain. Turns out its an island near Canada.We also really wanted a name that emphasised a collaborative effort.
D: You’ve got a unique sound, who are your biggest inspirations for it?
K: We have stuff that we listen to, but we just vibe off each other a lot, when shaping tracks, we will look at tracks we like and try to sculpt them in that way…sort of.
Luke: We definitely get inspired more by sounds. We hear sounds and effects we like and try to do something like that.
D: Can you give any examples of artists with sounds you like?
L: Yea so, Radiohead, Little Dragon, Lapalux, people like that.
D: Whose Lapalux?
L: Really cool guy, he’s on Brainfeeder, Flying Lotus’ label. I was listening to Radiohead and Johnny Greenwood used a Chaos Pad, They use these effects and everything’s in its right place. That actually inspired me to go out and buy a chaos pad.
K: We’ve always been really into the gear, experimenting with effects pedals and listening to records we like, we like the gear and get inspired by that…We’re always advancing, trying to keep up with everything, someone will have something new, and they wanna jam with it
D: Alright, my favourite song of yours is probably Kape Fear, what’s the story and song-writing process for it?
K: So ‘Kape Fear’ started with Dave, he had a bit he was messing about with, we added keys and it blossomed into something, we trimmed down a long-long jam and I wrote down these lyrics (she laughs). It didn’t take as long as some other stuff. We saved it as ‘Kape Fear’ for almost no reason, I asked Dave: ‘any theme you want me to write about?’ and I tried to go from the what Dave had called it…. I tried to do it about the disappearance of the sun and like a kape fear, when we’re in the studio we got live drums on it and it really pulls it all together.
D: So, you’ve toured a lot, what’s been your favourite place you’ve visited on tour?
K: San Francisco… actually all of America! Dublin’s also great… they always bring it they just…they love it and its just wild.
D: Is there a big difference in crowds form place to place?
K: Yeah there’s a few discrepancies between Europe, German crowds give a lot back, Dublin’s always wild, English crowds are different, seems a lot more common to talk, but by the end of it we can get people dancing.
L: Also different nights and different venues change, a Tuesday night is always different to a Friday night.
D: Which of your songs has the best story behind it?
K: Probably ‘Stranger Exchange’, first song on the album. It goes bonkers at the end. Lyrically, I was learning Japanese and doing a language swap with Japanese person trying to learn English…you email them, you can correct them, and they can correct you, it’s about that distance… learning and meeting people through that. I think the rest of the story is how much fun it was to finish the track!
D: Wow, and how’s the Japanese come along?
K: I’ve been really busy! (She laughs.)
D: How do you feel about the internet in the music business?
K: It’s definitely shaken up music industry and taken a while to level out, I don’t think we’re there yet, but we’ve always had the internet and (for us) there’s much opportunity to be independent, express yourself and promote your own music, we had so much control over what we do, we don’t have to have to have a label.
L: I know people like to slam Spotify, but they’ve been really great to us, when we were starting up it was the only money we saw from making music.
K: I suppose thank you internet (they laugh).
D: In the spirit of The Great Escape, who are your favourite up and coming and new artists?
L: Biig Piig!
D: Big pig?
L: Yeah but with 2 ‘I’s in each word.
D: That’s a large pig.
L: Yeah! Sort of neo-soul, ropey voice, certainly of ‘now’. It’s different stuff, but I get that Tom Misch, Jordan Rakei warm vibe and feeling.
D: What’s your best tour story?
K: I’ve got one! So we’ve got all this equipment. The only way we can take it is in gun cases. Like my electric cello is in a massive rifle case! It doesn’t help us when we’re flying, we look like we’re going to a Gun Expo.
L: We always get stopped at security; if they go through our stuff, they just pull out an obscure pedal.
D: Alright final question; What song do you enjoy playing the most live? Which of your song of yours would you say is your favourite?
K: It changes! At the moment ‘Kape Fear’ actually, whenever it starts, I’m like, yes. Also, ‘Black Fur’, there’s a bit at the end when we jam and improvise, it’s really fun.
Elder Island are performing at The Great Escape festival in Brighton, May 9-11 2019.