Interview: London’s Slaney Bay Embrace the Highs & Lows of Human Experience in ‘Why Does Love Mean Loss?’ EP

Why Does Love Mean Loss? EP - Slaney Bay
Why Does Love Mean Loss? EP - Slaney Bay
Slaney Bay frontwoman Cait Whitley dives into the soul-stirring, emotionally charged depths of  ‘Why Does Love Mean Loss?’ – the London-based indie rock band’s beautifully raw, radiant, and roaring sophomore EP!
Stream: ‘Why Does Love Mean Loss?’ – Slaney Bay




This EP is all about love and loss. Realising the interconnectivity between the two experiences… and the fact that you’ll only be a whole human if you allow yourself to feel both.

Why does love mean loss? On paper, it’s a question – but in practice, it’s more like a mantra.

Or a surrender. The title of Slaney Bay’s sophomore EP came to frontwoman Cait Whitley in the midst of her own inner reflections on love.

“It made me realise the lack of control we have over things. Just because I’ll think about something a lot, doesn’t mean I have the power to make it happen or to stop it. Sometimes, things just happen…” she recalls.

Then came the age-old classic inquiries: Is loving someone worth it when it’s eventually followed by pain? Is that something I can even control? “I realised that both love and loss can only exist together,” she explains. “Without love, loss wouldn’t hurt, and without loss, love wouldn’t be as strong. They make each other more powerful. And to experience one, you need to experience the other.”

'Why Does Love Mean Loss?' EP - Slaney Bay
‘Why Does Love Mean Loss?’ EP – Slaney Bay

Of course, realization does not necessarily beget acceptance – and throughout their latest record, Slaney Bay reckon with these two star-crossed experiences of love and loss, unpacking what their inevitable marriage means for us in our everyday lives through a barrage of soul-stirring, emotionally charged indie rock songs. Beautifully raw, radiant, and roaring, Why Does Love Mean Loss? aches from the inside out as Slaney Bay dance in the haze between tenderness and turbulence, baring their souls and their scars as they dwell in the deep end of human connection.

If you need to go, then you can go
I’ve got your voice cemented in my bones
And there’s still words that I wish I spoke,
but you know I’ve always struggled with that tone
Why does love mean loss?
Why does love mean loss?
Why does love mean…
There’s a word for you in every phrase I speak
Thank god, the apple never fell far from the family tree
I saw a picture of your Mother, she looked just like me
I’ve heard with time it’s meant to hurt less,
but that sentiment feels cheap
– “Family Tree,” Slaney Bay

Independently released September 29, 2023, Why Does Love Mean Loss? is a stunning, seismic force to be reckoned with. The follow-up to Slaney Bay’s debut EP A Life Worth Living – which earned the British band a spot as one of Atwood Magazine‘s artists to watch – hits hard and leaves an instant mark through tight, dynamic songs full of a deep and unrelenting fire inside.

“There’s an undeniable fervor lying at the heart of Slaney Bay’s music,” I wrote previously, admiring the South West London’s innate ability to mix “the unbridled vitality of youth with deeper explorations of the self and our place in this vast and often terrifying modern age.”

Slaney Bay © Rory Dunn
Slaney Bay © Rory Dunn



Named after the River Slaney in Ireland, the indie rock trio of vocalist Cait Whitley, bassist Joel Martin, and guitarist Will Nicola-Thompson have made a fast name for themselves over the past two and a half years thanks to their bold and instantly memorable melodies, unapologetically vulnerable lyrics, and breathtaking performances that energize and inspire all in attendance.

“I want people to hear the records and expect a certain subtlety in some of the song performances… but then be hit with a wall of sound and feverish live excitement,” Whitley says, her eyes lighting up. “If people are kind enough to spend their hard-earned money on us… we always want to make sure it’s worth it!”

For those unable to see Slaney Bay in concert – their next performance is the Dork Hype List show on 25th January at the 100 Club in London, supporting Gretel Hänlyn – experiencing them on record is an equally exhilarating rush. Why Does Love Mean Loss? is a feast for the ears: The latest addition to the trio’s rapidly-expanding catalog is as intimate as it is cinematic, its five songs cutting to the bone as Whitley and co dive deep into what it means to love and to lose – in romance, in our families, and in all of life’s comings and goings.

“The tracklist examines all forms of love and loss,” the frontwoman further explains, “building from a loved one moving away in ‘EST,’ to the loss of motivation in ‘The Fall,’ and crescendoing on the most painful scenario – love and loss battling for dominance in the experience of grief in ‘Family Tree.’”

Slaney Bay © Rory Dunn
Slaney Bay © Rory Dunn



Passion and pain blend into one beautiful fever dream as Slaney Bay deliver moments of sweetness, warmth, and shiver-inducing upheaval with blustering gusto and effortless grace.

Atwood Magazine caught up with Slaney Bay’s Cait Whitley to dive headfirst into the depths of Why Does Love Mean Loss?, uncovering its songs and exploring its sounds. Catch up with one of our favorite up-and-coming London acts as we discuss Slaney Bay’s artistic evolution, their approach to live and recorded music, and the inevitable, unassailable bond between love and low.

— —

:: stream/purchase Why Does Love Mean Loss? here ::
:: connect with Slaney Bay here ::
Stream: ‘Why Does Love Mean Loss?’ – Slaney Bay



A CONVERSATION WITH SLANEY BAY

'Why Does Love Mean Loss?' EP - Slaney Bay

Atwood Magazine: Slaney Bay, thanks for catching up! Why Does Love Mean Loss? has been out for just a few months now. What’s it been like to have this EP out in the world?

Slaney Bay: Hey! Thanks for having us! It’s been incredibly fulfilling having Why Does Love Mean Loss? out in the world. The record means a lot to us… we explored concepts we tiptoed around before, like grief and lost love. It feels like proof of both personal and professional growth. Seeing other people connect to it makes our hearts very, very warm.

Last we spoke, you talked about how ‘Slaney Bay’ “signifies a point where ‘the horror meets the healing.” Does that remain true for you as a band?

Slaney Bay: It does! And I think it always will. “The horror meets the healing” sums up our magnetism towards happy-sad music…That dizzying yet intoxicating feeling of listening to a song which half makes you tear up, and half makes you feel on top of the world. Slaney Bay is almost a project to capture those feelings… Writing songs to break your heart, and then heal it back up to be even stronger than before.

“WHERE THE HORROR MEETS THE HEALING”: A CONVERSATION WITH LONDON INDIE ROCK TRIO SLANEY BAY

:: INTERVIEW ::



Your debut EP A Life Worth Living was such a coming of age, unfiltered look into your first 23 years of life - and if just celebrated a one year anniversary itself! How do those songs hold up for you, a year later?

Slaney Bay: They’ll always hold a special place in our hearts. I like re-listening to that EP and thinking about what’s changed, and what hasn’t. We’re still best friends, we’re still as enamoured with songwriting as before… but we’ve got more experience under our belt now. For us, it’s a beautiful ode to that time in our lives. And we can nostalgically relive that first record every time a new Slaney listener (or “Slaney Bay-bie”) discovers that EP. I especially love seeing people screaming along to “LS6” with their friends at our gigs. It makes me feel a bit emotional!

I saw your show at Lafayette opening for Bleach Lab last year and was absolutely dumbstruck. What is your live show like, for our readers who might want to come out and catch a concert?

Slaney Bay: Thank you! We always try to inject an extra pump of energy into our live shows. I want people to hear the records and expect a certain subtlety in some of the song performances… but then be hit with a wall of sound and feverish live excitement. If people are kind enough to spend their hard-earned money on us… we always want to make sure it’s worth it!

Do you make music for the live show, or is your live show more of a reflection of the records?

Slaney Bay: We actually enjoy having a bit of a distinction between the live shows and the record… We love to layer up the recorded versions with a tonne of ear candy guitar riffs and sparkling vocal harmonies. Whereas live… we love allowing the power of specific tabs to shine through more. It’s cool to adjust the dramatics of the songs to the listening situation. Loud live and subtler streaming!

Slaney Bay © Rory Dunn
Slaney Bay © Rory Dunn



Speaking of, congrats on the release of Why Does Love Mean Loss? !! How do you feel this record captures your artistry, compared to your debut EP?

Slaney Bay: Thank you! For us, the key difference is the production. ‘A Life Worth Living’ was recorded in our bedrooms with no musical training and very little equipment… It was sincere and upfront. But for Why Does Love Mean Loss?, we got to work with an incredible producer, Michael Smith, and recorded it in his studio. It allowed us to be so much more creative. To bounce ideas off of someone and experiment with different guitar pedals and instruments… Learning from him helped us grow massively.

And, it helped us achieve a crisper, more layered sound. We love both EPs equally, but Why Does Love Mean Loss? was a hugely beneficial and affirming experience for us to make our sound tighter and more delicate.

Can you share a little about the story behind this EP? What was your vision going into it, and did that change at all over the course of recording it?

Slaney Bay: The EP concept came about very naturally… almost writing itself before we were even aware of it! We always like to write as genuinely as possible. If we’re feeling something, we’ll redirect that into a song. And the experiences we were living through at that time were all intertwined with love and loss. From losing family members, to friendship break ups, to times of self doubt or re-invention… everything we wrote fell under love and loss. So, we wrote the EP to explore the highs and lows of human experience, while recognising that neither love or loss could exist without the other.

Slaney Bay © Rory Dunn
Slaney Bay © Rory Dunn



We wrote the EP to explore the highs and lows of human experience, while recognising that neither love or loss could exist without the other.

I know it comes from a line in the song “Family Tree,” but why did you name the EP “Why Does Love Mean Loss?” What about that question (and I’ll admit, it’s a good one!) resonated with you?

Slaney Bay: I’ve always been a person that’s very “in my head” all the time. While writing this EP, I noticed the themes of love and loss emerging. It made me realise the lack of control we have over things. Just because I’ll think about something a lot, doesn’t mean I have the power to make it happen or to stop it. Sometimes, things just happen. And that led to the phrase, “Why Does Love Mean Loss?”

Is loving someone worth it when it’s eventually followed by pain? Is that something I can even control? But, I realised that both love and loss can only exist together. Without love, loss wouldn’t hurt, and without loss, love wouldn’t be as strong. They make each other more powerful. And to experience one, you need to experience the other. You can’t limit your human experience to try and preemptively stop future struggles. The EP title, Why Does Love Mean Loss?, is my frustration about that.

Can I make it youthfully tragic, enigmatic?Why Does Love Mean Loss? opens on such a fierce high note in “The Fall.” What is this song about, to you?

Slaney Bay: “The Fall” is a thrashing whirlwind of self- doubt. What better way to open Why Does Love Mean Loss? than with the theme of loss of self? The song explores us acknowledging our bad behaviours, like isolating ourselves and failing to keep up with friends. But noticing that really, it’s only because we’re scared of feeling so much all at once. I think everyone’s felt like that at least once in their lives – the worry that the rest of the world is moving faster and more self-assuredly than you are.

As someone who actually lives in the eastern standard timezone, I love your song “EST” - even if it’s full of pain and longing. How did this song come about, and is it based on a true story?

Slaney Bay: “EST” is definitely a favourite of ours too. We really wanted to create this immersive world that the listener could join us in. The lyrics read like a script… we’re all playing the main character who’s running through a busy airport to tell the person we love to stay with us. It was actually first inspired by the Ross – Rachel “don’t get on the plane” scene in the Friends finale!

You know it's time to move on. You're stuck in fight or flight with a heart that's hurt for too long.” “Move On” seems to be the breakout single of the EP (so far) - and it’s easy to see why! To what do you attribute this song’s “success,” and what do you yourselves like about it?

Slaney Bay: “Move On” started with that ear worm riff. Originally, I wrote it on synth, but it grew a scratchy, soaring guitar tab. I’d been listening to my childhood favourite bands a lot at the time… The Klaxons, MGMT, The Naked & Famous… They all nail those simple yet satisfying riffs that you catch yourself humming throughout the day. I’d like to think that “Move On” has had that effect on some people. A riff that creeps up on you!

If your last EP was a coming of age, what is this one about?

Slaney Bay: This EP is all about love and loss. Realising the interconnectivity between the two experiences… and the fact that you’ll only be a whole human if you allow yourself to feel both. However hard that can be.

I think my personal sleeper favorite is “House Party.” I love how that song grows, ebbs, and flows with such passion, and such restraint. Do you have any definitive favorites or personal highlights off this EP?

Slaney Bay: “House Party” was a bit of a late bloomer! We figured it out mostly within the studio… playing around with different synths, strings and thumping kick drums. Suddenly, it clicked for us. We needed to structure and develop the song in the same way that a house party builds. A shy, self-aware start developing into a drunken loss of inhibition and blurry interactions with familiar faces.

We added clips of background chatter and an EQ that fully opens for the final chorus… almost like you’ve opened the front door to leave the party, and the song flies out with you. Recording this song was our highlight of the EP. It gave us all goosebumps when we had that ah-ha moment!

Likewise… as a lyrically forward band, do you have any favorite lyrics in these songs?

Slaney Bay: I think “Family Tree” contains my favourite lyrics. The song’s about my granddad, Eoin, who had recently passed away before recording. It’s an ode to him. “I saw a picture of your mother, she looked just like me, thank god the apple never fell far from the family tree” is particularly special to me. I often notice myself subconsciously speaking or gesticulating like him, and it makes me smile. Even when someone’s gone, you’ll always still hold a part of them within your genes and your mannerisms.



What do you hope listeners take away from Why Does Love Mean Loss? What have you taken away from creating it and now putting it out?

Slaney Bay: We’ve found comfort from the lessons learnt in Why Does Love Mean Loss? The acknowledgement that you need both love and loss to live a full life. And that’s going to be hard at points, but it’s unavoidable. I hope that other people might feel that too. Maybe lyrics from ‘Family Tree’ might help someone find a light within their grief.

I suppose we should end by my asking, have you yet figured out an answer to your EP’s question? Why DOES love mean loss?

Slaney Bay: For us, love means loss because the two entities can’t exist without each other. Love means loss because you’ll love harder when you know that it could be taken away from you at any moment. Loss makes us appreciate the love more.

Slaney Bay © Rory Dunn
Slaney Bay © Rory Dunn



What’s on the horizon for Slaney Bay? What are you most excited about in 2024?

Slaney Bay: We are ready and raring to get back in the studio… EP 3 will hit even harder than the last two! But before that… we’re incredibly excited to be playing the Dork Hype List show on Jan 25th with Gretel Hänlyn at 100 Club!

I love to leave all interviews by paying it forward; who are you listening to these days that you would recommend to our readers?

Slaney Bay: Lois – Strange Men. Her debut EP is really beautiful. Vulnerable, introspective and full of ear worm melodies. Her 2024 will be BIGGG.

— —

:: stream/purchase Why Does Love Mean Loss? here ::
:: connect with Slaney Bay here ::
Watch: “EST” – Slaney Bay



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'Why Does Love Mean Loss?' EP - Slaney Bay

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? © Rory Dunn

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