If you take a look out your window, it looks as if (whisper it) summer might be just around the corner. No better time then, to get acquainted with the music of The Island Club. Whether it’s the gloom of winter or the tranquillity of autumn, the Brighton music scene has music to suit all seasons. Within that spectrum, The Island Club undoubtedly fill the quota of music to accompany lazy, sunny afternoons.
So far we’ve been treated to two tracks from the five-piece, the super sleek ‘Paper Kiss’ and the more woozy and melancholic ‘Sober’. But anyone who’s caught them in the flesh will attest there’s plenty more where that came from. They pack an absurd amount of hooks and melody into their not-too-short but very sweet live sets. By this point they could probably put together a bit of funk-infused indie pop in their sleep. We managed to get them all together in the same room and asked them a few questions about where they came from, what they’re doing, and where they’re going.
Let’s start from the beginning, how did you all meet? How did the band get together?
Mike – Julien and I started writing together pretty early on at Uni, after meeting through a mutual friend and we went through a few band members before finding Sam and Dave. It really clicked musically straight away with them.
Julien – I met Sam at a house party, he told me his life story. I had to be friends with him after that 'cause I knew too much.
Barney – I actually knew Julien from school, he drunkenly asked me to join his band in Brighton to which I drunkenly agreed.
Julien – We'd been in bands before and I knew we could write well together.
Where do you all hail from originally?
Mike – I grew up in Stevenage and Sam hails from Swindon. Barney and Julien both come from a small village just outside of Guildford.
Julien – I was actually born in New Zealand, and moved over here when I was young.
Dave – I'm the only native Brightonian, born and bred. It's handy that these guys landed on my doorstep.
I can hear lots of different bits and pieces in your music. There’s a bit of psychedelia, indie-pop, disco and dance. Are these all sounds you purposefully draw on? What would you say are your main influences?
Julien – It started out with more of an indie sound. I definitely saw the potential for a more electronic sound so pushed for getting Barney in on synth. As far as the music goes it really is just a combination of what we like as a group. Sometimes an influence will be brought up during writing if we want to capture a vibe but we're mostly trying to write what we enjoy. I draw a lot of influence from sampled music in my guitar playing, and I like when a live part sounds choppy and disconnected. Also all hail the funk.
Barney – We all love a bit of Tame Impala, Daft Punk and Peace. Personally I was force fed a lot of Michael Jackson as a child, I know Mike fell in love with Hopes and Fears by Keane, and it was the first album that he properly became obsessed with. Sam recently mentioned that he listened to a lot of ABBA in the car growing up.
Sam – I think it really helps that most of us didn't grow up together and the music we listened to growing up was so varied.
You’re all at BIMM right? Do you think studying there – or even just being located in Brighton – has had any influence on the music you make?
Mike – BIMM is good for networking and you can get a lot out of it, but I wouldn't say it has any influence on what we write at all.
Julien – I'd agree. On the other hand Brighton is a great city, and living here probably effects the music we make on some level.
Sam – There are a lot of great bands in Brighton at the moment, it's cool to be a part of that scene
Julien – I suppose Dave has been the most influenced by Brighton having grown up here.
Dave – Yeah, it's just got such a good live music scene and you can't escape it. There's always touring bands and local acts.
Barney – I don't live here…
You released your first single ‘Paper Kiss’ near the end of 2015, can you tell us what the song is about?
Mike – It's about the corruption of money and how it can change people. I began to imagine what it would be like to put the richest 1% on an island, strip them from their cash and reputation yet let their egos remain… It would be interesting to watch.
Your recordings have a really lovely crisp, shimmering sound to them. Did you record and produce them yourselves, or where/who did you record them with?
Julien – We've only ever recorded with Neil Kennedy at the Ranch Production House in Southampton so far, at least with the tracks we've released. We demo tracks ourselves before we go to record them so we already have a solid idea of the production, but Neil has always had ideas for how to approach recordings, cause he knows his studio so well.
Sam – Neil introduced us to Geoff Swan who then mixed Paper Kiss and an upcoming single. Geoff managed to capture the sound we had in our heads.
Barney – We want to move towards doing more of the recording and mixing ourselves, so we have even more creative control over the sound.
There’s quiet a few members the band, how does your songwriting writing process work? Is there anyone who has to take on the role of leader or is it pretty democratic?
Julien – The initial idea for a track will normally come from me and sometimes Mike. We'll all write the meat of the track in the rehearsal room together, and we all have a say on how certain sections should feel.
Barney – We get really specific about the details of the track almost like producers would, so the track sounds 98% of the way there before Mike starts on the lyrics.
Mike – Writing lyrics and melodies usually consists of me pacing around my room for days on end whilst blasting the track experimenting with loads of different ideas. If I have a song idea, I'll bring it to Julien and we'll work on it together before we bring it to the group, we've always done it that way since the beginning.
You just sold out The Prince Albert for a headline show, which must have felt pretty good. How was it for you?
Sam – Massive.
Julien – It was the perfect mix of scary and brilliant.
Barney – I was already feeling celebratory at the beginning of the night seeing the room packed out! It certainly makes us hungry for even bigger shows.
David – Yeah, it was a really great show for us and we got a great vibe from the crowd. It was definitely a milestone for us.
Mile – Even the morning after the show we were thinking about what we were going to do next, we're always trying to up the ante.
You’re playing The Great Escape this year, have you been before? What are your experiences of the festival?
David – It's a festival that I've followed for years having grown up in Brighton, and it's cool to know we're gonna be a part of it this year.
Julien – I'm a fool and have never been before but have been desperate to go for years. It's awesome that the first time I get to go is when I get to be involved and play.
Mike– I haven't been but I'm excited to play!
Sam – Playing TGE is something I've wanted to tick off my bucket list since moving to Brighton. Seeing all these bands you've listened to for years just walking round Brighton is really cool and we're really grateful that we get to be a part of it.
Anyone you’re particularly excited to catch at this year’s festival?
David – I'm hyped to see Mura Masa and Oh Wonder at All Saints Church.
Sam – Blossoms, Mystery Jets and Black Honey. Too many bands to list really. We actually played with Blossoms at the Prince Albert last year.
Julien – Yeah we did! It's crazy to see how far they've come in a year. I'm really looking forward to seeing Boo Seeka. I found them on Triple J not long ago and love the track 'Kingdom Leader'. I agree there's just too much to list though!
Mike – I'm Interested in seeing Beach Baby cause there's a lot of hype around them. Also Jack Watts and Nova Twins.
Barney – I'm gonna make sure I see Clean Cut Kid and KYKO, who I played a couple of shows with in some of his earlier projects.
Your sound definitely feels like it’s meant for the summer. Any other festivals you’ve got lined up to play this year?
Julien – Nothing we can announce yet!
What else does 2016 have in store for you? Any plans to release more music?
Mike – There's going to be a new single very soon, expect some new sounds at the start of May.
Sam – It's been a while since we put out Paper Kiss but we didn't want to rush the process on the next single.
Barney – We do have a lot more we want to release, so hopefully this year will get pretty hectic for us.
Julien – We're gonna move into a house together later this year, and it looks like we'll have a studio space in the back garden to write and record ourselves and others in as well.
What artists or albums are you listening to at the moment?
Barney – The new Grimes album has taken over my life at the moment. I've also been listening to the Koi Child album which Kevin Parker [of Tame Impala] produced. Bibio's new album is great too.
Julien – It feels like I haven't stopped listening to Currents (Tame Impala) since it came out. I'm just looking through my playlist now, and there's a lot of RATATAT being added, and The Internet. I also just found this nice electronic duo from Aus called Kllo, really liking their sound.
Mike – I’ve been listening to a lot of Vulfpeck recently, I just love how they cover every element of funk. The Weekend, Beauty Behind Madness is just a great pop record and I always find myself listening to it. Mark Ronson’s, Uptown Special, yet again another great pop record with some wicked collaborations.
David – Flume's latest singles are insane and his album is going to be next level. Also B4- 4.
Sam – I was listening to Kendrick Lamar's album To Pimp A Butterfly at the end of last year on repeat, but for 2016, I haven't really gotten in to any other albums as of yet. The Magic Gang are becoming favourites of mine; I'm really looking forward to seeing them live in Brighton as soon as I can. A friend of mine is in a band called RAIN, he's shown me some of their new stuff and I'm really excited to see what they get up to this year. Their first EP was great. They're from my hometown, Swindon, so it's really great to see some emerging music from back home.