In 2012 a certain William Doyle [AKA East India Youth] bumped into John Doran Editor on The Quietus at a Factory Floor gig. A CD was handed over [along with a mutual appreciation of t-shirts] and the rest, as they say is history. Of course nothing is quite that simple. The Quietus proceeded to tell everyone they knew at record labels to sign him, but to no avail. So they put their money where their mouths are and started a record label of their own – The Quietus Phonographic Corporation.
To quote the ever candid Mr Doran
“I’d always said that I’d cut my own head off using nail clippers before we started a record label. I’d learned too much from watching other sites and magazines pour all of their time, money and talent into them, just to watch them spectacularly implode. It was, I said, like withdrawing all your money from a cash machine and setting fire to it while simultaneously flushing your own head down a toilet filled with goat’s piss.”
But they did it anyway – such was their belief in Mr Doyle’s music, and his deput EP ‘Hostel’ is due to be released in March. I had a chat to him about how all this came about, and about one of the most exciting releases of 2013.
1. You actually started off a guitar orientated band called Doyle & The Fourfathers. You were doing very well, with the support from BBC Radio 6 and releasing an EP in 2011. Why the shift to Electronica, what happened?
There are two parts to this really. To outsiders and fans Doyle & The Fourfathers seemed to be doing very well, but the truth is we were only just scraping it. We’d had some radio support in our early days and we’d managed to get gigs without an issue but we were losing money and it was hard to keep up our initial momentum. Mistakes were made, relationships were eroding, it just got to a point in my mind where I could no longer sustain my enthusiasm and so I reached a bit of a breaking point.
That breaking point, though, was an awakening of dormant creativity. I started making music like I had been before the band; in my bedroom, for hours on end, everyday. My interest in electronic and dance music had been escalating for a few years by that point and that was what I started to make at home. It felt more fulfilling than writing songs on acoustic guitar, arranging and rehearsing and then going into a studio. It was a much faster process and I felt I was able to express myself easier with electronic music.
2. Listening to your music I can hear a huge range of influences….and dare I say it, as mentioned by a mate of mine at you gig in Brighton 2 weeks ago, a slight ‘Pet Shop Vibe’ in some of the tracks. Tell me more about what you listened to growing up, and what you are listening to at the moment
I listened to a lot of Beck and Bowie when I was about 11 or 12, then I had some absolutely shocking years of listening to the sort of rubbish music that was aimed at me – emo and terrible alternative rock music. Things started to change for me a bit in 2007 or so when I had some revelatory experiences and a whole other world of music started to appeal to me; The Flaming Lips, Caribou, of Montreal, that sort of thing.
My music taste evolves much quicker since I started buying vinyl. Lately I’m listening to stuff like Perc, Factory Floor, Luke Abbott, Tim Hecker. I spend most of every day making or listening to music so I’m always discovering new stuff. I thought last year was a very triumphant year for new music.
3. You cut quite a unassuming figure on stage [that’s a compliment by the way!] and yet the intensity of your performances is immense, what do you put this down to?
Ever since I started playing with bands I’ve always been very physical. I just think it’s the usual thing of being quite reserved off stage and then really letting it all out and exuding all this energy as soon as you get on stage. I might be overdoing it at the moment because I don’t have any visuals but it all comes quite naturally to me. If I don’t get a bit of a sweat going then I know it’s been a rubbish show and I haven’t applied myself enough.
4. Your debut EP ‘Hostel’ is being released in March by the new label set up by the esteemed website The Quietus. They believed in your music so strongly that they set up a record label [Quietus Phonographic Corporation’ ] to get your music out there – not much pressure then! ;o) How does that feel?
Amazing. I’ve been reading their website for years and I’ve learnt a lot and discovered plenty of new music on there. The quality of their writing is stellar and so I have always wanted to put my music in front of them to see what they thought. I had no idea they’d ever be impassioned enough to take me on like they have done though. It’s been a total pleasure and joy working with John and Luke, I have massive respect for them and what they’re doing.
5. One of my absolute favourite songs is on the EP – Heaven How Long, but how, and why did you pick the other 3?
Well one is a remix of ‘Heaven’ that John Doran and his friend John Tatlock, who is an excellent audio wizard, put together. It’s ace. We also felt that ‘Looking For Someone’ was the other obvious track worthy of the EP from the album I made. When we were talking about what should go on the EP, John and Luke were keen to have a new track on the B-side so I sent them 4 or 5 things I was working on and they both really liked ‘Coastal Reflexions’. It’s a very Quietus-type track I think. It’s a long, concept driven, droney, dancey piece to do with trains. I was happy for that to go on there because I wasn’t sure it’d ever get used on an album as it’s quite a standalone composition.
6. You already have an albums worth of music written ‘Total Strife Forever’ and you are working on a second album, when and how can we hear all this ?
Hopefully a label will come along who are interested enough in me and we’ll see something out and available in the next year or so. Whether that will be TOTAL STRIFE FOREVER or not remains to be seen, but I am chipping away at another record at the moment too.
7. How do you view the state of electronic music at the moment…is it getting better, or worse? I for one am noticing quite an up surge of women in the scene. Your thoughts?
I think the nature of electronic music and how widely the technology with which to make it is available means that it’s never necessarily better or worse at any one time. Different niches and strands of electronic music go through different surges of popularity or creative fertility. There is indeed a lot of great women making some of the most interesting music I’ve ever heard recently. My favourite album of 2012 by a long way was ‘Quarantine’ by Laurel Halo. Then you have Holly Herndon, Motion Sickness of Time Travel, even Julia Holter to an extent (though her music probably isn’t described as strictly electronic). The list goes on. It’s very exciting. Even though the music industry can be very male-dominated, I do think electronic music and the cultures that surround it allow for that sort of gender equality to exist.
8. Vinyl or digital…the debate will always be there, but how would you like your music to be listened to?
I buy more vinyl than anything so I often think of how to sequence my records to fit that format. I don’t mind too much what format anyone else listens to my music (or any music) on but I do think people should try to treat music with more respect than just for its ambient quality while doing something else. People sit and watch films, people sit and read books. Why do they not do that with music? I do think the act of sitting down with a couple of beers and listening to an album start to finish and really immersing yourself in its world is one of the greatest pleasures in life. I recommend it to anyone.
9. For independent musicians out there, how on earth do they get their stuff heard? [apart from accosting John Doran at Factory Floor gigs!]
I really have not much advice for the new artist. I’m not the best person to ask. The way my music has been brought to any sort of prominence is via quite an unorthodox way. I do think there should be less emphasis on totally over saturating your social networks with useless media content and for there to be more focus on actually writing good songs or creating new and interesting sounds. Forget about your branding until you actually have some decent product. I didn’t have a facebook page, photos, bio, twitter or anything to look at when I met John, just a CD. I’m not saying this is the only way to go, but I did make sure that I’d honed my songwriting and production to a half decent level before I even thought of getting involved in any of that nonsense.
10. Tell all the good people out there reading this, where they can see your excellent live performances… in March???
Wed 6 – Shacklewell Arms, London
Tue 12 – Kraak, Manchester (tickets here
Sat 16 – Birthdays, Dalston w/ Molly Nilsson (more details here)
Fri 22 – Roundhouse, London (more details here)
Sun 31 – Abattoir at White Rabbit, London
Keep checking my facebook page for more announcements though, I’ve got a lot of stuff in the pipeline. http://www.facebook.com/eastindiayouth
Photo Credit – Joseph Tovey Frost