Connecting the two worlds of club night euphoria and live band electricity, Low Island are sonic architects whose music provides both soulful solace and synth-loaded excitement.
The quartet’s carefully-crafted sound fuses glimmering electronica, delectable dance beats and infectious indie disco hooks, earning them kudos from none other than Radiohead’s Phil Selway and a string of glowing comparisons to LCD Soundsystem and Caribou.
How would you describe Low Island to a stranger?
“The companion for your night out – there for the pre-drink, the party and to console you on the way home.”
Who are the biggest influences on your sound and why?
“LCD Soundsystem and Radiohead. LCD Soundsystem for the dance music with a punk attitude, piercing, hilarious lyrics and nostalgic anthems. Radiohead for the emotional and sonic depth, and their strong resolve in doing everything their own way.”
What was the best gig you’ve played so far?
“Two come to mind. Open Air Zurich towards the end of last year was a real highlight for all of us. They alternate the main stage and second stage (which we were playing on) so you’re pretty much guaranteed a big crowd (unless you completely stack it in the opening tune!). The crowd were with us from the beginning – it was one of those gigs which played itself which sounds pretentious, but doesn’t make it less true.
Towards the other extreme, we had a show at Think Tank in Newcastle a while back which should have been one of the more challenging ones. The advance sales were on the low side and we know how hard those shows can be sometimes. But the 18 people who showed up (mostly for the support act Rein, who are wicked) were probably the most generous crowd we’ve ever played to. It was a joyous night.”
You’re based in Oxford – what’s your local music scene like?
“The scene has ebbed and flowed in our lifetime. When we were teenagers, we were going out to early Foals shows, all of the bands who were associated with Blessing Force (Youthmovies, Pet Moon, Jonquil) and Stornoway. It felt like an exciting time, not least because the Foals shows were completely insane. I don’t think I’ve been to shows like them since – everyone was off their minds. I remember being on the barrier for one of the gigs, waking up the next day and seeing that the skin around my ribs was a dark shade of purple from bruising. Then there was what felt like a bit of a quiet spell (or maybe I was just oblivious). And now it feels like it’s really thriving again. Simon Bailey promotes a lot of the shows and has done a brilliant job in putting Oxford back on the touring circuit, as well as encouraging and supporting local acts. There’s Willie J Healey, Be Good, Theo, Premium Leisure, Candy Says, LVRA, Self Help, Lacuna Common, The Bobo… so many! And many more too. Go listen to all of them.”
Who are the THREE other new artists we should listen to right now and why?
“I’ve been listening to:
Josin – She has an extraordinary voice and the album is beautifully produced. It’s got shades of Thom Yorke’s solo work, thrown in with some Debussy/Ravel-like harmony. ‘Evaporation’ is a highlight for me.
Clairo – I love the simplicity of her songwriting. ‘Alewife’, the opener of her debut, is subtly arresting. So is ‘Bags’.
Lazarus Kane – I got to see them at Ritual Union festival in Oxford – they were brilliant. Imagine if LCD Soundsystem all took on jarring alter-egos. Look out for the tambourine player. I think ‘Narcissus’ is the only track they have out at the moment.”
You’re playing Hidden Herd Festival 2020 in March – which other bands are you most looking forward to seeing on the day?
And finally, what does the rest of 2020 hold for Low Island?
“We’ll be recording our debut album over the next few months and will hopefully begin releasing it later this year. We’ve been putting the whole process off for a while, and I’m glad we have. The band is still young and we’ve spent the last 3 years gigging and exploring our sound and performance. Now feels like a good time to commit to a larger scale body of work. There’s a hell of a lot to do, but it feels exciting.”
Low Island will play Hidden Herd Festival 2020 at Brighton’s Patterns on Saturday 21st March alongside Flyte, Girlhood, Mosa Wild, Bdrmm, PROJECTOR, Kate Lomas, Circe, MULIMBA, ARXX, Deep Tan and Comforts. Don’t miss out – book tickets now via DICE.