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TLOBF Interview // Islet

TLOBF Interview // Islet

11 October 2010, 11:00
Words by Adrian Mules

With two mini-LP’s in three months and an album due imminently Islet are certainly no slouches. Their distinct lack of on-line presence also created an air of mystery that generated more buzz than a viral video of meerkats disco dancing on exercise equipment. So it was a pleasant surprise when Emma Daman kindly found some time in her busy schedule to chat to Adrian Mules about the band’s past and their plans for the future.

There’s a lot of mystery around the band, can you tell us how you met?

Mark and Bunter are brothers who play in a band with their other brother, Lee, called Attack+Defend, and have a label called Shape. When I was in my old band we used to play with them and they met Al – who was in another Cardiff band called Fredrick Stanley Star. Shape put out a record by Fredrick Stanley Star, it’s really good. Mark, Bunter and I started jamming as Islet. We wanted to do a band where anything is possible. And Al joined us after a few gigs.

Thanks, so what about the do the individual members of Islet do?

I play bass, drums and sing. Al, Mark and Bunter variously play guitar, keyboard, drums and sing. We swap about.

So, when your family members ask what sort of band Iselt are how do you describe yourselves?

It’s quite a family band so it’s not usually necessary. Mark is my boyfriend, Bunter is his brother and we recorded our first record at their parent’s farm. To my family I would say it’s fun. That’s the most important part.

Is there a shared pool of bands you all love?

You can’t go wrong with Fugazi, Pavement, Animal Collective, Department of Eagles, Sweet Baboo, At The Drive-In, Deerhoof, Munch Munch and Dirty Projectors.

You can’t indeed. So, if you were trapped in a lift for 24 hours with one song playing on repeat what song would you pick?

This Dust Makes That Mud by Liars. Apart from Liars being top dollar radness, it’s half an hour long so I’d have more chance of retaining sanity.

Okay, key question – do Islet like Twiglets?


Phew… With the information overload surrounding most bands it’s refreshing not to have the overshare from yourselves. What were your reasons for keeping your presence so subdued?

It’s tempting to believe that a band’s desire is to self publicise, and that they have a public duty to take advantage of the many means available. I believe in doing what you enjoy and what makes you happy, even if it doesn’t fit in with other people’s expectations.

By keeping quiet it actually built up quite a lot of interest, but it’s often the case that bands never deliver on the (for want of a better word) “hype” – yet everything from you thus far has been brilliant. It was a genuine moment of excitement for me when I received your first release; it reminded me of the days when tracking down a record by your favourite band was often a difficult, but ultimately fulfilling activity. This is quite possibly the longest intro to a question ever - but was this the experience you hoping to deliver or have I massively over-thought this?

We made a conscious decision to act in a way that people we admire do, to be true to ourselves, our ideals and beliefs. Which are mainly to enjoy being in a band! I wanted to make a band that I would like. And if people get into music for whatever reason, that can only be a good thing!

Your second mini-lp Wimmy is out on the 11th of October, how did bringing that together differ from Celebrate This Place was it a more rapid process?

It was quite rapid, there’s three months between the two. We’ve always said we’d record and release our music quite quickly, to keep the creative process ticking over. We hired an old rehearsal room in Cardiff for a few weeks and went down there in the evenings with a few mics and a computer. Wimmy is like Celebrate This Place in that they were both recorded by ourselves in Wales – 6 tracks and about half an hour each. They’re a sister and a brother.

Do you write songs individually and bring them to the table or do they evolve from a jamming process?

A bit of both. Some songs we jammed as a three piece before Al joined the group and added crazy vibemic-ing or bass that made it all fit together. Some songs you might be able to tell started off life as one of us at home with a guitar. At the moment we’re moving more towards jamming. We set up all the instruments in a room and we can rotate, play whatever we feel like at that moment. So it’s very flexible and free.

You are planning to record your debut soon, is this going to be all new material or will tracks from the mini-lp’s make an appearance?

New material for sure! Maximum funfulfillment.

Brilliant, when is it due?

Not sure. But we don’t really believe in sitting on songs, so I shouldn’t imagine long!

Do you prefer the instant reaction of a live performance or recording your songs in the studio?

I love both. There’s the adrenaline rush of playing live, and the satisfaction of recording your own songs. Islet is as much about records as gigs, both are integral.

What’s been the highlight of being in Islet thus far?

It’s all good! We do gigs and record and make art, what more could you want? We’re fortunate in that I don’t think we’ve ever let ourselves down!

Other than recording the new album what else is planned for Islet in the future?

When we get back from this tour Mark and I’ll do another Isness (our hand held visual communication device, that you can subscribe to) because we haven’t done one for a while. And of course the basic activities that make a band – gigs and recording.

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