“Where the Horror Meets the Healing”: A Conversation with London Indie Rock Trio Slaney Bay

Slaney Bay © Henry Ager
Slaney Bay © Henry Ager
A rising indie rock force out of South West London, Slaney Bay discuss their band’s origins, goals and inspirations, and their upcoming debut EP ‘A Life Worth Living,’ set for release this November!
for fans of Alvvays, Bleach Lab, Lauran Hibberd,
Stream: “I Could Love You Better” – Slaney Bay




To us, ‘Slaney Bay’ signifies a point where ‘the horror meets the healing.’ And I think that reflects our songwriting – where happy meets sad!

There’s an undeniable fervor lying at the heart of Slaney Bay’s music.

It’s the fresh fire of a young band eager to unleash themselves through raw sound waves and soaring melodies; the hunger of an up-and-coming trio still figuring out who they are not only as an entity, but as individuals as well. A steadily rising force out of South West London, Slaney Bay are undoubtedly an artist to watch closely; their feverish energy and intimate indie rock charm come to life on recent releases “I Could Love You Better” and “Take Your Time,” both taken off the band’s forthcoming debut EP.

I Could Love You Better - Slaney Bay
I Could Love You Better – Slaney Bay
I’ve been so tired
Do you know why?
Could you read my mind?
The truth’s been hard to chew
That if it’s not you
Then our end is soon
I know that if ever I fall
They’ll never mean as much as you
I’d talk but the words feel too tall
And I’ve never felt that much in me
I could love you better
No, I would love you better
– “I Could Love You Better,” Slaney Bay

Formed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Slaney Bay consists of childhood friends Caitlin Whitley (lead vocals and guitar), William Nicola-Thompson (lead guitar), and Joel Martin (backing vocals and bass). Named after the River Slaney in Ireland, the indie rock trio debuted with the roaring, radiant “Talking About You” in mid-2021, and have been steadily growing their repertoire ever since through a series of songs that mix the unbridled vitality of youth with deeper explorations of the self and our place in this vast and often terrifying modern age. Last September’s release “The House Across the Street” and this past February’s “The Snow and the Eclipse” found the band expanding their sound, creating vast, yet insular worlds through Nicola-Thompson’s at once atmospheric and dynamic guitar work, Martin’s driving bass churns, and Whitley’s sweetly ethereal, achingly evocative vocal performances. The result is an experience that is equal parts cathartic and dazzling.




For Slaney Bay’s band members, vulnerability lies at the core of their art.

“We’re all drawn to candid, vulnerable songwriters, and that spans across every genre,” Cait Whitley tells Atwood Magazine. “From Billie Eilish, to Blake Mills, to MGMT… It’s something that we try to pack into our songs – almost an uncomfortable level of honesty that you would struggle to say in conversation, because those are the songs that will stick with you and remind you of consequential moments in your life. Nothing can replace that sincerity. I hope listeners get that with our music; an attachment to the songs because they can relate to them, and a feeling of getting to know us as songwriters beyond the surface level. That would mean the world.”

We connect with nostalgic, coming-of-age indie rock songs because our friendship was built around them. They were the soundtrack of our youth!

Slaney Bay’s most recent song releases see the band coming into their own more than ever, and just as well: August’s smoldering “Take Your Time” and September’s energetic anthem “I Could Love You Better” serve as the first two singles off the band’s forthcoming debut EP A Life Worth Living, set for release November 11, 2022.

“The EP feels like a therapeutic diary for us,” Whitley explains. “Each song represents a different chapter in our overarching tale of growing up. The record is an unfiltered look into everything that we think and feel, from guilt about growing independent from your parents, to the dramatic adoration of a first love, to the loss of a best friendship. We feel deeply connected to the EP; it’s got 23 years of life in it. The release feels like proud, yet apprehensive, [like] parents dropping their kids off at their first day of school.”

“I think ‘I Could Love You Better’ represents [our artistic] vision quite well,” she adds, highlighting Slaney Bay’s most recent offering. “It’s introspective, soft lyrics about your ‘once-in-a lifetime’ first love, combined with a soaring, earworm guitar riff to guide the choruses.” A cinematic upheaval, “I Could Love You Better” presents Slaney Bay at their most vulnerable, visceral, and raw as they pack love’s weight into a searing, sonically and emotionally charged rock song.

Slaney Bay © Henry Ager
Slaney Bay © Henry Ager



From the sound of it, “I Could Love You better” and “Take Your Time” are just teasers – a taste of what’s to come from the fast-rising London trio. “All of the songs carry more weight and meaning when packaged together,” Whitley says. “For us, these five songs cover our whole ‘experience’ spectrum of becoming a young adult.”

A la contemporary indie rockers like Bleach Lab and Lauran Hibberd (also, notably, two of Atwood Magazine‘s artists to watch), Slaney Bay are making irresistible music that invigorates and inspires. Today, they join those two acts as yet another artist to watch: Slaney Bay may only have five songs out to date, but that number is quickly growing – and with each musical release comes an even greater emotional release that is sure to get listeners invested and playing this music on repeat.

Atwood Magazine caught up with Slaney Bay to learn more about the band’s origins, their inspirations, and their debut EP. Dive into this exciting young band in our interview below, and keep an eye out for more from Slaney Bay in the months to come: A Life Worth Living is out November 11!

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:: stream/purchase Slaney Bay here ::
Stream: ‘I Could Love You Better’ – Slaney Bay



A CONVERSATION WITH SLANEY BAY

I Could Love You Better - Slaney Bay

Atwood Magazine: Slaney Bay, it's great to meet you and thanks for chatting! To get things started, how did your band form?

Cait Whitley: Hello! Thank you for having us! Joey, Will and I (Cait) are all childhood friends. We’ve known each other since before we could even spell our own names! Joey and I originally started in another band with two other mates called ‘Flux’ We were around 16, and fueled by drunken enthusiasm at a house party. We played a few interesting gigs – I remember one being in a Church basement, where Joey’s bass broke half way through a track – so I ended up simultaneously attempting lead guitar, rhythm guitar and bass all at once! We were close with Will, but he was playing in a different band at the time. At around 20/21 years old, those bands fizzled out and Will joined Flux. After I finished University, and the boys were on furlough during the COVID lockdowns, we decided to give the band a proper go. We rebranded to Slaney Bay and wrote a shiny new catalogue of songs. And here we are!

Did you know from the offset what kind of music you wanted to be making, or has it been a process of discovery over the past year?

Cait Whitley: Our musical taste and writing is always evolving. There’s constant discovery. And I find that really exciting. It’s the only way for growth. Luckily, the boys and I are drawn to the same principles of music. We love songs that evoke a happy-sad, punch in the gut feeling. So naturally, we all write tabs to try and achieve that result. I think that shared love comes from us being best friends, and going to gigs together as teenagers. We connect with nostalgic, coming-of-age indie rock songs because our friendship was built around them. They were the soundtrack of our youth! But our understanding of recording software and mixing has definitely grown since our earlier singles. We’re able to put in some more unique, interesting pops of sounds into our songs. Like the scratchy, vocoder guitar that guides the intro of ‘Take Your Time.’ We’ve also become more confident with testing out dissonant sounds and braver vocal performances. Going from soft, delicate vocals to bold projections to really guide the listeners’ emotions. I’d like to think each new song enables us to uncover a bit more of the Slaney Bay spectrum.



Do you feel like you've all slid into your roles in the band, or is that something that's ever-changing and still figuring itself out?

Cait Whitley: We definitely fall into specific roles in the band. From growing up together, we just naturally knew what everyone would be best at. And I like that – we can collaborate or we can do solo work – it means everyone has their creative space and we’re not treading on each other’s toes. We get the best out of each other. For example, Joey’s great at developing our demo mixes, I focus on initial song ideas, lyrics and general band upkeep, and Will really adds the depth into our tracks. Like working in any company though, there’s got to be space to change and grow. So we’re always checking in to see if everyone’s happy. But that’s while we’re having pints at the pub, of course!

Who are some of your musical inspirations, and what do you hope listeners come away with from listening to your music?

Cait Whitley: We’re all drawn to candid, vulnerable songwriters, and that spans across every genre. From Billie Eilish, to Blake Mills, to MGMT! It’s something that we try to pack into our songs too. Almost an uncomfortable level of honesty that you would struggle to say in conversation. Because those are the songs that will stick with you, and remind you of consequential moments in your life. Nothing can replace that sincerity. I hope listeners get that with our music: An attachment to the songs because they can relate to them, and a feeling of getting to know us as songwriters beyond the surface level. That would mean the world.



Tell me about your name, Slaney Bay. What does that mean to you?

Cait Whitley: I’ve got family in Ireland, and have always felt very connected to the area. I was reading a lot of Irish folklore at the time. The River Slaney is believed to have healing properties, but the towns it runs through have a plethora of hauntings and horror tales. So to us, ‘Slaney Bay’ signifies a point where ‘the horror meets the healing.’ And I think that reflects our songwriting – where happy meets sad!

Congratulations on your upcoming EP! ‘A Life Worth Living’ is a great title for a debut; what does this record mean for you?

Cait Whitley: Thank you! That means a lot. The EP feels like a therapeutic diary for us. Each song represents a different chapter in our overarching tale of growing up. The record is an unfiltered look into everything that we think and feel. From guilt about growing independent from your parents, to the dramatic adoration of a first love, to the loss of a best friendship. We feel deeply connected to the EP. It’s got 23 years of life in it. The release feels like proud, yet apprehensive, parents dropping their kids off at their first day of school!



Why the title A Life Worth Living?

Cait Whitley: A lot of different topics are explored in the record. But, the emotional crescendo in the bridge of LS6 felt the most reflective of what we felt. ‘I’m lost on the way, to write a life worth living, or just a page’. It shows the sense of fear about your youth ‘ending’ – and the doubt about whether you’ll catch up with others. You’re feeling so much, but will you achieve anything? Are you worthy? I like the different spins you can take on the title too. For me, it also has a reassuring perspective. No matter how hard life can become, it’s always worth living.

What was your vision going into this EP – is it a collection of singles or is there a greater arc to this five-song set?

Cait Whitley: Without sounding greedy… our vision was both! The conceptual arc of growing up was very important to us- but that could only be achieved through having those youthful, nostalgic singles. Because those kind of songs were so important to us throughout our teenage years. So there’s ‘single’-esque elements to all of the tracks. I think ‘I Could Love You Better’ represents this vision quite well – introspective, soft lyrics about your ‘once-in-a lifetime’ first love, combined with a soaring, earworm guitar riff to guide the choruses. But all of the songs carry more weight and meaning when packaged together. For us, the 5-songs cover our whole ‘experience’ spectrum of becoming a young adult.



Can you describe this record in three words?

Cait Whitley: Coming. Of. Age!

How do you feel A Life Worth Living introduces Slaney Bay?

Cait Whitley: I’d like to think ‘A Life Worth Living’ is an unfiltered introduction to us as a band and as individuals. Every song has feelings and events that we struggle to talk about in person. In some ways, this record is the most sincere and forthcoming we’ve ever been. It would mean a lot for people to value that honesty. I’d like to think that ‘A Life Worth Living’ shows that we’re determined to grow as musicians and as people, and that this is only the start!

Do you have any definitive favorites or personal highlights you hope folks pay special attention to?

Cait Whitley: We all have a soft spot for LS6. We started writing that song at the very start of Slaney Bay. It’s a track about moving to University – titled after my student postcode in Leeds. You’re getting older and the independence- dependence balance is suddenly changing. It’s about the guilt, excitement and anticipation of growing up. We kind of lost sight of the song for about a year. And then our manager re-discovered it, and loved it. We needed that injection of enthusiasm and confidence to pick the song back up again. And now it’s our favourite. The fact we weren’t even sure it would feature on EP is what it makes it even more special.

Slaney Bay © Henry Ager
Slaney Bay © Henry Ager



What have you taken away from creating A Life Worth Living and now putting it out?

Cait Whitley: We’ve taken away a lot from making this record. Musically and personally. Self-producing it was a big task- and we were very lucky to have such a supportive, patient and generous team around us- our manager (Emily Street), our mixing engineer (James Mottershead) and mastering engineer (Kevin Tuffy). Working with people that you look up to so much makes you learn and grow at twice the speed. We’re definitely more determined, hardworking and receptive people just from being around them.

For me, I felt a surprising level of self-acceptance upon hearing the final EP mixes. Lyrically, ‘What If?’ details my experience with OCD. I was diagnosed a few years ago, and kind of punished myself for it. Wishing I didn’t have it, and even denying it. But the outro of ‘What If?’ acknowledges that I’m only ‘me’ when every characteristic is included- OCD too. And so maybe it’s not a bad thing. Listening to that final mix, especially with it falling as the last track in the EP, made me feel quite emotional. I didn’t expect to feel growth from it. That made me fall in love with writing even more.

Lastly - and certainly not least – I always like to pay it forward. Who are you listening to these days that you would recommend to our readers?

Cait Whitley: Carol Ades! I actually came across her on Tiktok. She’s got an incredible knack for earworm indie-pop vocal melodies, with a lyrical weight that will make you put your lighter up in the air! I saw a video of her performing solely to one person in the audience at a gig. They were screaming the words to each other. Both of them had a massive grin and a glint in their eyes, and she humbly thanked the fan straight after. That gratitude, with that level of talent, is extra special.

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:: stream/purchase Slaney Bay here ::
Stream: “I Could Love You Better” – Slaney Bay



— — — —

I Could Love You Better - Slaney Bay

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📸 © Henry Ager

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