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February 2021

The Orielles: "A lot of the songs we write to have a laugh"

The Orielles are a ray of sunshine to brighten even the greyest of winter days. Their debut album features a bunch of everyday objects they found laying around the studio and heaps of fun. It's a winning combination.
Published: 4:50 pm, February 14, 2018
The Orielles: "A lot of the songs we write to have a laugh"
Who wants to go on an adventure?

Accompanying us, we have a guitar, a bass guitar and a set of drums, as well as a ruler, a cowbell, bike bell, and a pack of matches, plus a loping trio of young artists. We'll be taking a trip through jangling highs, bluesy downs and blooming soundscapes. Welcome to the genius dreamland of The Orielles, where funk, stoner rock, world music and jazz meld with the worlds of art and film.

Orielles Esme (bass/vocals), Sidonie (drums) and Henry (guitar) are in transit on the tarmac in-between, rattling their way up the motorway to Glasgow for another of their spellbinding gigs when we call them up to talk 'Silver Dollar Moment', their debut album.

Released through Heavenly Recordings, it's an album of abstract, disparate ideas to match its many inspirations. Esme explains: "If there's something we get passionate about, then we play a song about it. We all discuss these concepts and ideas until we become really familiar with the subject." As such, there's a track on there about the contents of guitarist Henry's pockets, one about the unsettling Lanthimos film Dogtooth, and others that these musicians want you to listen to and think, "What the hell is that about?"

'Liminal Spaces', for example, the slower, centre track with the irresistible bassline, is about those places in which "you're only travelling from one space to the next." This phenomenon of a place that's neither here nor there, gets the special Orielles treatment on 'Silver Dollar Moment': "We wanted to do a slower song that was more like a love ballad, but then we kind of integrated these ideas into liminality. When we have the [vinyl] record, we put it on the A side so that you have to flip to the B side to listen to the other 'Liminal Spaces' track." Thus, the listener "travels through a liminal space in itself" to get from one conceptual track to the next.

Your favourite band could never.

But how did this band come to have such a fascinating, unique approach to indie music?

"We've played with a projection of a film while we were jamming a song. Looking at the film visually helps to co-ordinate the way the track is going to go," Esme says, of creative processes they've used in the past. Though 'Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist)' was "based on a film called Coherence", The Orielles didn't use their projector technique in the making of 'Silver Dollar Moment'. Still, it's a process that's clearly developed their skills. The album could easily soundtrack a mad, visual masterpiece thanks to its snaking journey through multiple genres and moods that feel more like emotions than sounds.

Directors David Lynch, Michael Haneke, Quentin Tarantino ("an obvious one") and more tastemakers are huge inspirations for The Orielles, who love writing screenplays as much as making music: "it's something we'd like to pursue in the future on a bit of a bigger scale." It's this love of film, art and books that, when intersected with the discipline of music, makes for such an exciting finishing product on 'Silver Dollar Moment'.

"pull" text="We walked around the studio and picked out which objects made the nicest sounds

Sisters Esme and Sidonie were not groomed for this life of recording studios and tours, but it's not hard to imagine how they came to be in a touring van with their best friend, surrounded by instruments. "Our dad played drums in a band called The Train Set in the eighties and nineties," Esme explains, "but that was never why we got into music initially."

Instead, it's kind of worked the other way around: "Since we've started playing in the band, our dad has started to play his music a lot more as well. I think we've mutually inspired each other." Although the Hand-Halford's endeavours have motivated their dad, it's thanks to their parents that the sisters were raised on a diet of vegan food and great music.

"When we were growing up, we listened to quite a wide variety [of music]," Esme says in her Yorkshire lilt. "One of my earliest memories of loving a song was playing [Beach Boys'] 'Pet Sounds' in the car. Me and Sid would be sat in the back singing the harmonies." Esme quite rightly doesn't want to speak on behalf of Henry in regards to his musical upbringing, but whatever he listened to, it led him to an interest in nineties and jazz music that mixes fascinatingly with Sid's love of post-punk and Esme's soft spot for world music.

"A lot of the main things that we all pull these influences from, we listen to together. I don't think there's anything we disagree on," she adds. As though to demonstrate, she throws my question about songs that remind the band of good times out to her bandmates. There's a short discussion in the van, before Esme returns with their answer: "'Friends of Mine' by Adam Green and 'Moving Up' by Toba – that's one of our big party tunes while we're on the road – our go-to banger."

One of the go-to bangers of 2017 was 'Sugar Tastes Like Salt', a six-minute opus that saw its way onto many a playlist. It was a release that hinted towards the frivolity, eclecticism and quick-wittedness of the debut album to come. Filled with yips and submerged whoops, the single foreshadowed some of the more experimental sections of 'Silver Dollar Moment', which is heavy in unusual instruments…

"We put a lot of sounds in ['Liminal Spaces'], including a ruler. A lot of that came from Marta [Salogni]: she's got a good grasp on what we are sonically, and she can make regular sounds interesting. But also, we were well up for experimenting. On the first day, we walked around the studio and picked out which objects made the nicest sounds. We played the objects up to the mic for twenty minutes and then picked the best thirty seconds of it."

If you think that recording an album with The Orielles sounds like the most fun thing ever, you'd be right. "A lot of the songs we write to have a laugh," says Esme. It's a sentiment that the band also approach videos with. In imagery-heavy pieces like 'Let Your Dogtooth Grow', the band "want to convey that [they're] a fun band."

"pull" text="We don't really sound like any other bands

Despite the lack of everyday items in their live shows ("something we're trying to work on"), an Orielles gig is still a place that harbours a party atmosphere. Whatever place. Whatever time.

Rewind to a couple of years ago and the trio are in Canada, at "the beginning of writing the album." They're jet-lagged, hungover and have already played a show. Now it's two in the morning and time to play again. Despite these factors, "it came out to be the best show that we had played." Where did this gig take place? The Silver Dollar Room.

Named for unexpectedly brilliant occurrences like this one, 'Silver Dollar Moment' is a celebration of the unexpected and the unusual; an ode to the serendipitous and the abstract. It's an adventure, comprised of a smorgasbord of inspiration, from Hacienda Madchester to Stereolab.

The creative process is a natural, almost telepathic magic that "just kind of happens." With this incredible natural talent in their favour, the band have created an album of diverse yet cohesive songs that push the indie envelope with skill and good humour.

"We don't really sound like any other bands out there at the moment," Esme says, with confidence. And it's true: they don't. Listening to The Orielles is an adventure.

The Orielles' album 'Silver Dollar Moment' is out 16th February. Taken from the February issue of Dork, out now.

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