I SEE RIVERS – Eline (keys, vocals, percussion), Gøril (guitar, vocals, drum pad) and Lill (drums, vocals) – hail from Norway, yet they didn’t meet until they each moved to the UK to study at LIPA in Liverpool. The trio now reside in Tenby in south west Wales, and released debut album ‘Deep & Rolling Green’ earlier this month.
The record beautifully ties together the band’s distinctive sound and harmonies whilst touching on the themes of nature, mythology, love and loss.
I SEE RIVERS have received funding and support from PRS Momentum Fund plus kind words and acclaim from i-D, The Evening Standard, Wonderland, DIY Mag, The Line of Best Fit, Clash Magazine, Earmilk as well at national radio support from BBC Radio 1, 6 Music and a national television appearance on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch.
At the end of your degree at LIPA you went on tour with Newton Faulkner and it changed things from the band. How?
‘We were always certain that we were going to stay in the UK! After spending four years building our career in the country it felt only natural to stay and continue on that path. The tour with Newton Faulkner really helped us make that decision!
The first ever gig we did outside of Liverpool, were two Sofar Sounds shows in London where we played alongside Newton Faulkner both nights. We got to know him and his band at the time during those shows, and we were (quite surprisingly) invited to join him on his UK tour a couple of months later.
Going on that tour as his support band enabled us to play in places we’d never been able to book ourselves in a million years, and we got to expose our music to a much larger crowd than we’d ever played for before. This super lovely and surreal experience really has meant a lot to us as a band.’
What contribution did living in Liverpool and attending LIPA make to the band’s sound? I do appreciate it has developed since then as well!
‘We never actually discussed what we wanted to sound like when we first started to play together, but we were all very into bands like Fleet Foxes and The Staves which is very harmony and vocal based, which definitely influenced the sound.
It was also very inspiring to be a part of such a vibrant music community both through LIPA and just living in Liverpool and going to shows every week.
You’re right, it has developed a bit since we started, and from being heavily influenced by vocal harmonies and acoustic instruments, calling our own genre Float Folk, we’ve now ended up with something more like Float Pop, as it meanders between that old I SEE RIVERS sound and slightly electronic sounds blended with vocal blankets and pop tunes.’
How did you end up in Wales, and what do you think this location brings into the mix?
‘This actually is directly linked to the Newton Faulkner tour! We got pretty close to his then drummer Toby Couling who got really invested in us and our music, so he recommended this studio in Pembrokeshire called StudiOwz.
We ended up with spending all our income from that tour on recording our very first EP – in the studio Toby recommended us. The owner of Studiowz, Owain Jenkins, didn’t just end up as our engineer, but he also showed us Pembrokeshire! We completely fell in love with the land and the people, and after that recording session, I think we went back around six times in just one year.
Every excuse to go, we went. “Oh, I think we need to film this music video in Wales» was the kind of excuses we had, haha. When we were all finished with our studies in Liverpool, we thought «we could just move to Pembrokeshire?”. So we did!’
Your harmonies are so distinctive and sound natural, like blood harmonies. How did you discover you could sing so beautifully together?
‘Wow, thank you! That’s very kind words! Well, we quickly discovered that singing together was A LOT of fun. Making arrangements, that was our favorite part. We never really talked about it, it just ended up that way after our first rehearsals together. Since then, we’ve been working more and more on the arrangements around the vocals as well. It’s just something about singing together, that makes us feel like one, cheesy as it sounds, but true.’
Some of the songs on Deep & Rolling Green are 7 years old now, how did the writing process between the three of you work for the record?
‘Well, for our debut EP, and previous EP, we did a lot of writing together. One of us had a song, or the idea for a song, and then we sat down together. So we mostly wrote together. For the album, most of the songs are new songs. We’ve also written them separately.
We’ve even been in different parts of the world while writing, so we’ve actually sent songs and ideas to each other online, instead of being in the rehearsal room. That said, even thought the songs has been written more separately than together this time, we’ve done the arrangements together, making it sound like I SEE RIVERS.
Our producer Toby Couling has also been a part of this. Some of the songs are quite similar to the demos we sent each other online, but some of the songs has changed a lot, arrangement-wise.’
What role did crowdfunding play in the creation of Deep & Rolling Green?
‘Crowd funding played a huge role. We simply wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support. It certainly played a big role economical, but it was also extremely heartwarming to see the support we got, from listeners wanting us to make more music! THANK YOU!’
If aliens landed and they found a copy of your album and popped it in their spaceship’s CD player, how would they describe you?
‘Singing creatures from planet earth, that probably describes the landscape and feelings of beings on the (still) blue planet.’
‘Give Up‘ has been listened to so much on Spotify, almost 1 and a half million streams, and ‘Play It Cool‘ over 500k. You must be rich now?
‘Well, Spotify doesn’t pay make artists rich that easily! But we’re of course filled with excitement just from seeing that people are listening to our music <3 As of January 2019, Spotify reports that it pays out between $0.00331 and $0.00437 per stream to rights holders.
But, we would like to say TUSEN TAKK to everyone who’s streaming our music. That’s a huge part of why we’re making music (the other reason is because we love to do so)!’
How are you finding the playing no gigs situation? Do you have shows planned for 2020?
‘It’s really hard, but also we know everyone is in the same position. It doesn’t make it easier, but it feels like we’re a part of something that we all need to be a part of to stop the pandemic from spreading. It feels necessary, but at the same time hard. We had LOADS of shows planned, of course, as we’ve just released our debut album! But, some of these shows has been moved, and hopefully we’ll be able to play together again soon.
Because of lockdown, we didn’t see each other for 8th months as we all were in isolation in our own homes in different cities. Around the album-release, we still couldn’t play the shows we had planned, but we met in Bodø in the north of Norway, to be together.
It was so nice to finally sing together again after 8 months of separation. We managed to do a live-stream on the album release day, which was very lovely. Now, we’re hoping to be able to play for you again next year!!’
I SEE RIVERS photo credit:: Marieke Macklon