Photography Nic Kane

Swimming Static follows Elder Island‘s 2019’s acclaimed debut album (The Omnitone Collection) and sees the band meld genres with effortless precision. Flitting between the surreal dream-state of electronica and the storytelling-esque lyricisms of indie, the new record (recorded over the past year in their home studio) tempers introspection with a coveted taste of feel-good pop, offering dashes of neo-soul at the core.

How did you start playing?

Luke – Music has been a long time passion but my first love was art. In school it was the only lesson that I fully enjoyed. I remember bunking off from other lessons just to go do work in the art department, to be creative. It was also the only lesson you were allowed to do whilst listening to music with your headphones on. Plugged into that top of the range CD Walkman or Mini disk player! 

What are the best moments of this career in your opinion? 

Luke – My personal favourite is the initial creation stages of the songs. I really enjoy the element of writing something new without any pre-proposed boundaries or expectations. Sometimes you can get lost in the music, knowing that at that moment you are creating something fresh and unknown and in this way it’s special. It’s the motivation to create something distinctive and new. 

How would you describe your music in your own words?

Katy – Abstract Pop

Tell us about the creative process that leads to a song

Katy – At the moment it’s a disorderly three stage process. Firstly: As a creative starting point we record hours of freeform live sessions. Secondly:  From the sessions, we pick out highlights and outline themes. I’ll work on the lyrical parts and then together we work to create a structure. Thirdly: We collide the new structures with the old soundscapes of the sessions, re-recording and layering instrumental parts. (Then agonise for weeks on what to add and pull out). At least that’s the principle movements of the creative process. 

What inspires your lyrics?

Katy – A little bit of everything and anything. Memories, myths, things I read, things I see, things I feel. I often fuse subjects together, It’s all a bit of a soup really. I don’t really like to have an obvious topic or ‘statement of intent’ in tracks. I like there to be a little ambiguity so people have the space to create their own meaning.

Do you draw inspiration from anything other than music for your creativity?

Katy – Often.  A lot of things I have read in books have been interwoven into tracks. Off the top of my head I know there’s some Orwell, Brautigan, Robert Smithson and more than a few Murakami references hidden away. I’m pretty into my utopian/ dystopian literature (pretty interchangeable in my mind) and that sneaks in from time to time. Poetry of course, and imagery within art and film. I believe being a visual artist first and foremost, imagery is one of my most inexhaustible sources of inspiration. 

Tell us about your latest release and how it came about.

Katy – We wanted a period of time to freely create music with no direction, no preconceptions, no previous ideas. To start fresh and create a body of original work produced organically through live improvised free sessions and jams. To take a selection of these to refine and transform into tighter, structured tracks for the album. This we did, with a few hiccups along the way.

What about fashion and aesthetics? Is it a big part of your act?

Luke – I think musically our style is inspired by the equipment we use in the studio & live plus our wide ranging, collective tastes in music. In regards to our style and visual aesthetic, I don’t think it can be pinpointed to one certain artist or movement. Our combined art degrees (photography, fine art and graphic design) have helped us as we have a combined knowledge in the rich history of art across most mediums. So when we are discussing a photoshoot or artwork of any kind we can pull the old books of artists and designers off the shelf for some inspiration. For instance our first album “The Omnitone Collection” is quite evidently inspired by Dieter Rams and different ranges of vintage electrical homeware.

What’s the future looking like for you?

Luke – 2021 has a lot in store for Elder Island. Most notably we have our second album Swimming Static set to be released on May 28th. Touring is now looking more and more possible so we are starting to spruce up the tour gear. We’re looking forward to transforming the new album tracks into a live performance. It’s a challenging but thrilling experience.