Welcome to wonky pop.
Oxford's Low Island attempt to blend pop with something a bit more left-field - and do a bloody good job. They're on the road around the UK right now with the Low Island and Friends tour.
Hey Carlos, how are you today? Have we interrupted anything fun?
Hey Dork! I'm good. We played a festival in Florence a couple of weeks ago, and my keyboard never quite made it out. I've been chatting with Iberia.
Have you guys had a good summer? It's nearly Christmas now, you know.
We've had a great summer. It's been our first festival season as a band, and we've been incredibly lucky to play some brilliant ones; Latitude and Reading being particular highlights for us. We've also loved having the opportunity to see and discover other artists as well; HMLTD and Goldfrapp at Latitude were spectacular. We're going to be releasing a load of music and touring this side of the year, so Christmas still feels a way off!
So tell us about your band - who are you all, and where did you meet?
We are Carlos (gtr/keys/vocals), Jamie (gtr/keys/vocals/programming), Jacob (Bass) and Felix (Drums). Some of us in the band go way back – I've known Jacob since I was about five or six years old – but we all met at various stages through school playing in different bands together before finally settling on Low Island last year. All of the different projects we've been involved in have fed into what we do now; between us, we've played in indie bands, jazz bands, written music for theatre and film, DJ'd, played in orchestras and a whole lot more. We've tried to channel all of these different experiences into Low Island.
How would you describe your vibe?
We hear you've racked up loads of plays on Spotify - congrats. What's the key to streaming success, do you think?
It sounds trite, but not worrying about it too much is really important. Of course, a track streaming well or getting into a good playlist is brilliant. But you get into dangerous territory trying to second guess why a particular track has been successful, and then let that reasoning dictate how to shape your future songs. As clichéd as it sounds, I think the best approach is just to enjoy writing the music that you want to. Once it's written, you can see how and where it fits in. And if it doesn't, you still had a great time making it. Ed O'Brien has said two things that we try to stick by: ‘the journey is everything', and ‘the art comes first, the commerce follows'. I think if you can remember both of these, you cant go wrong. More time spent worrying about likes and play-counts is less time spent making music.
What's the best song you've written so far?
I think we all have different favourites, and it's hard to pick one. But there's a song on the new EP called ‘Too Young' that I'm really proud of. We wanted to make something that sounded like the love-child of Aphex Twin, Arca and Lana Del Rey. I think it's our most successful attempt so far at trying to bring pop together with more left-field electronic production. I can't wait for it to be released.
What would you most like to achieve during your music career?
Stability. Or the ability to travel. I've never really had the opportunity.
Have you always wanted to be in a band?
Pretty much. I went round to my friends' house and watched the Woodstock DVD when I was about 12. He switched it on, and Richie Havens was there thrashing out ‘Freedom' on his acoustic guitar; I thought it was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen. Even more cool now I know that the whole thing was completely improvised.
What was the first record you ever bought?
I think it was ‘All Killer No Filler' by Sum 41, but it could also have been ‘By the Way' by the Chillis. I forget which.
Who do you think is the most exciting band or musician around right now?
I don't think anyone is tearing up the rulebook and issuing the same challenges to mainstream popular music in the way that Kendrick Lamar is. The production, the fusing of genres, the structures, the lyrics, the beats, the politics; it's all fucking brilliant.
What are you guys working on at the mo?
We've just finished recording our third EP. The first single's now out, and the rest of it'll be coming out over the next few months. We're now trying to figure out how to play it all for our upcoming Low Island and Friends tour in the autumn. We're doing a load of nights around the UK where we're collaborating with some amazingly talented people from all sides of art; dance, theatre, visual as well as music. There's been a lot of planning for that as well, so we can't wait to actually get out there and play the shows. We're hoping that the tour will serve as a celebration of independent artists from across the UK. It's not the easiest time to be one; we need to support each other.
Taken from the November issue of Dork, out now. Low Island and Friends are on tour now.