Islet // Interview

Islet Band Cardiff

Hello Islet. Tell us a bit more about your upcoming LP, Released by the Movement.

It’s got a bit of a ‘back to the basics’ thing about it. It’s been nice to get back to our roots and really think about why it is we do this and what it is for. Just us as friends and family making music, not worrying about the outcome too much. We knew we wanted to make a record, so we did.

Emma & I had done some recordings at home with our friend Steve (also known as Sweet Baboo) in the summer of 2012 – that’s where the track Inlet came from. We enjoyed working with Steve so much that we enthused to the others that we should do an Islet album with him. JT found out that an old studio / rehearsal room in Cardiff which was on it’s last legs was free for some of December so we just booked in and did it!

What can fans of your last LP, Illuminated People, expect from this release?

This is a shoestring (depends how you define shoestring but this was alarmingly shoestring!) budget record with less microphones, a colder ‘studio’ and a friend recording and mixing it.

Illuminated People cost a lot more and took longer to make. It was made with a pro producer in Drew Morgan – with a studio engineer in proper studio. Everything was super miked up and done to a click very professional. This one was way more bung up the mics and give it a go. That’s not to say Steve wasn’t professional – he certainly is very clever and proficient at recording and has some lovely vintage kit. It was quite collaborative as we all helped put the mics out and all discussed what to do. We loved both methods of recording!

We write in a pretty odd way but I’m delighted with this album as a lot of it has come from the four of us jamming. Carlos, Tripping I & II are completely jammed songs so there is energy, teamwork and an oddness that you don’t get if someone is dictating. A lot of bands these days are just groups of people with one person in charge but we all look after each other musically and want everyone to have their say & input. It can make it hard but when it works it is glorious.

What kind of place is Cardiff in terms of incubating musical talent?

Cardiff is brilliant. I put on gigs here, play in band here and run a label here and I love it. I’ve never lived in any other city so don’t know how the ‘scene’ compares to others.

How has working with labels treated you so far?

Well… I run Shape Records so we get treated pretty well by Shape I guess! We stopped working with Turnstile in May last year…long story but it just wasn’t working out. It was tough for us as they controlled all of the financial side of things – that works for bands who don’t ask questions, but we’ve got a lot of questions!! It’s great being back to being in control and we’ve been in such a great place as a group since leaving the deal.

I’d obviously recommend everything in the Shape back catalogue!!! Special mention to Steve (Sweet Baboo) who recorded the album and is now signed to Moshi Moshi – he is a flipping workhorse and a total genius songwriter.

You’ll be playing Modern Art Oxford in October. Do you think some music is more fitting for modern art galleries than traditional gig spaces?

I’ve never been to MAO but have been on the website and am hugely excited to come and play there. I love gigs in unusual spaces. We’ve played some great art spaces before like a former car sales space for Yes Way festival in London run by the incredible folk at Upset The Rhythm, Café OTO in London for ATP was wonderful and Islington Mill in Salford is superb.

I’ve been putting on some gigs in Chapter which is an arts centre in Cardiff and it kind of gives people a different feeling to watch people make music in spaces normally for theatre or art.

What is a typical tour experience for Islet?

We’re the kind of band who would love to explore the city we’re in but we don’t have much time, usually! As I mentioned – as part of our ‘back to the basics’ thing we’re back to driving ourselves and using in house sound engineers. The van we drive has a top speed of about 55pmh with a good wind behind it so I doubt we’ll be looking around much. It’ll be just the four of us on the road.

A lot of people moan about London but I love going there to gig, it’s so massive and so full of people. We always find the crowd there is very unreserved and up for a good time.That said, we loved playing in Leeds last time, the Brudenell Social club is top class.

I couldn’t choose a favorite European city as we just pinch ourselves that we are lucky enough to go abroad to do music.

Are you disenchanted by the wider music industry?

Wider changes don’t really effect a band like ours, we don’t feel sorry for the UK independent music scene. I’ve always disliked that “no one comes to gigs anymore” shtick – I think the music biz needs to be more self reflective and not blame the audience so much. I love the fact that everything feels a bit up in the air at the moment and industry know it alls don’t know it all anymore. It’s a time for risk taking and that’s exciting.

Do you have any ultimate goals for Islet?

I want us to flood the market with records! We do love going places that we’ve never been before and would love it if the band took us to South America (as well as returning to places we have been before and loved, Hello Tokyo!).

Islet release their new LP – Released by the Movement – on 7 October 2013 via Shape Records.