Interview: Norwich, England’s The Islas Rise & Shine with an Indie Rock Flame

The Islas © 2020
Feverish and unfiltered, youthful and dynamic, Norwich indie band The Islas are an exciting force to be reckoned with, as can be heard in their exhilarating new songs “Close” and “Dancing with Daisy.”
for fans of Catfish & The Bottlemen, The Wombats, The Vaccines
Stream: ‘Close’ [single] – The Islas




I’d say we’re a kind of variation on classic Indie. We do write guitar driven, catchy, melodic music but there’s certainly sharp lyrical elements in our music too.

Feverish and unfiltered, youthful and dynamic, The Islas are an exciting force to be reckoned with.

A fresh, rising voice in the indie rock/pop world, the English band match impassioned sounds with catchy melodies and hooks that make their music a captivating thrill through and through. Their new two-track single “Close” / “Dancing with Daisy” offers a balance of intimacy and reflection, control and release. It’s an assertive and memorable offering that we’re sure to keep coming back to – whether for inspiration, exhilaration, rejuvenation, or introspection.

Close - The Islas

Close – The Islas

Lord can you hear my haunted sounds,
Your voice might just calm me down,
I feel the weight upon my sin,
But I still feel a fire within.
Lord save my soul and give to Christ,
I’ll live and ignore my father’s advice,
I pray that my soul will be saved,
But I’m tired – I want to misbehave.
And I tell myself to go, go outside.
I’ve never been this close before,
I’ve never been this close before.
And I know I shouldn’t stay and I tried,
I’ve never been this close my lord,
I’ve never been this close, this close
– “Close,” The Islas

Independently released September 25, the raucous “Close” and the tempered “Dancing with Daisy” are a perfect pair. The Islas’ two new tracks capture the up-and-comers’ thirst, as well as their zeal: One an anthem and the other a ballad, they complement each other while together setting a high bar for the band.

Hailing from Norwich, England, The Islas consists of Nathan Baverstock, Ross Allen, Granger Wittering, and Ed Chalu. The band formed in late 2017, and released their debut EP A Generation to Forget in 2018. 2019’s singles “Aileen” and “Back of Your Neck” offered two particularly strong assertions of the band’s DIY flare, each a finessed overhaul of sound and emotion alike.

“I think we had a great 2019, and were so ready to push on in 2020 but of course it didn’t pan out that way, as the World stopped for a while,” lead vocalist and guitarist Nathan Baverstock tells Atwood Magazine. “I think these [new] tracks show more of our potential and we have a good versatility as a band.”

“Close” is an intimate outpouring of inner turbulence, finding Baverstock opining on the idea of a person losing their religion and faith due to impulse and human desires. “I couldn’t shake the feeling that you’d ignore your desires and potential happiness for a greater being in the sky. I think it’s a really odd concept when you really think about it,” he says.

The chorus finds Baverstock rising with a groundswell from his bandmates, embodying a relatable turmoil as he expels: “And I tell myself to go, go outside – I’ve never been this close before.” There’s no denying the energy behind these words.

Meanwhile, “Dancing with Daisy” is a softer song dating back to the band’s early days, when it was just Nathan Baverstock and Ross Allen at their local college. A track about falling in love with a stranger, the downtempo ambient rocker finds reverb-laden guitars keeping the song in a sort of stirred stasis for the first two minutes as listener and singer alike dwell in this moment of shellshocked amour. The passion of such a cinematic romance builds to a fever pitch at the end, where the band snap out of their funk and soar with torrential passion and charisma toward a satisfyingly dramatic conclusion.

Atwood Magazine spoke to The Islas’ Nathan Baverstock about their new music, band identity, hopes, dreams, and more. Dive into the group and their music in our interview below, and be sure to “Close” and “Dancing with Daisy” your undivided attention: These songs are easy, long-lasting favorites that will invigorate our days and entrance our nights.

— —

Stream: ‘Close’ [single] – The Islas



A CONVERSATION WITH THE ISLAS

Close - The Islas

Atwood Magazine: For folks just discovering The Islas today, how do you describe yourselves and what do you love most about your music?

Nathan Baverstock: It’s a great kickoff question! I’d say we’re a kind of variation on classic Indie. We do write guitar driven, catchy, melodic music but there’s certainly sharp lyrical elements in our music too. We try to steer clear of the usual ‘love songs’ you associate with Indie music. It’s hard to say what we love about our own music, I think the love is just the being in a band. It’s great, I love everything about it. I love being a DIY artist and I love working on a new song and thinking, “Yeah, this has the legs to be great, I think I’d actually listen to this”.

2019 was a busy introductory year for The Islas. What did you come away from that first year having learned about yourselves? Did you accomplish what you’d set you’d set out to do at the top of that year?

Nathan Baverstock: We certainly worked hard on our music before we releasing anything. We’ve been together around 2017 time and we worked on our sounds before we really put ourselves out there. 2019 had some terrific highlights including a headline show in France, being playlisted on Spotify, having our track featured on ITV’s This Morning and many, many more. I think for actual goals we don’t really set ourselves any, we just want to see improvement in every aspect, every year. Our music, our socials and our listeners on Spotify; and ultimately, for us to keep doing what we love year after year.

“Close” is your first single of 2020, and your latest release since last August’s groovy “Back of Your Neck.” What’ve you been up to over the past 13 months?

Nathan Baverstock: We had plans to release much, much earlier. But as the rest of the world found, the pandemic really put things on a stand still. We spent the Autumn of 2019 and early 2020 gigging and that was what we wanted to carry on through to 2020 but all plans were halted. It’s really not all doom and gloom though, because we managed to get back into the studio in June and throughout the lockdown period I wrote so much. We have a lot of songs in our pipeline and I’m sure we’ll be releasing more frequently throughout 2021.

The Islas © 2020

The Islas © 2020

What is “Close” about, and why make this your return song?

Nathan Baverstock: When I write lyrics I refer back to my ‘notes’ on my phone. I write down particular feelings and resources that made me feel that way at that time. So for example, if I watch a scene of a move or TV Show I will mark the time and some words that describe how I was feeling about it. I like holding onto thoughts for as long as possible and then elongate them when I write.

‘Close’ came around when I was reading different articles just stumbling around Twitter I think it was, and I found a deeply hardcore Christian Twitter profile that was condemning homosexuality amongst other sins. I have a lot of close people to me who are gay and it made me really angry. I then kept scrolling through and saw an article called “How Not To Let Your Relationship With Your Partner Get In The Way Of Your Relationship With God,” which really threw me.

For the record, I am not against Christianity at all. I actually think of myself as an agnostic and totally understand this is an extreme view of the religion, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that you’d ignore your desires and potential happiness for a greater being in the sky. I think it’s a really odd concept when you really think about it.

So I wrote Close from those thoughts, and from the aspect of someone losing their religion and faith due to impulse and human desires. “I’ve never been this Close before, I’ve never been this Close My Lord” was the starting line I came up with so it just stemmed from there. I’d always think of myself as a thoughtful lyricist – you won’t find an Islas song that doesn’t have a specific thought or meaning behind it.

How do you feel this song stands apart in your repertoire to date?

Nathan Baverstock: I think it shows our calibre and potential. When it comes to single releases you want it to be punchy and catchy and I think it compliments ‘Aileen’ and ‘Back Of Your Neck’ really well. When we go into the studio again we’ll plan an EP I think, which will give a little bit more of us away. But I love ‘Close’ and I think it shows our maturity as a band for sure.

Did a specific moment inspire this tune or is it built more on a set of feelings?

Nathan Baverstock: It was a bit of both. I’ve always had a difficult relationship with the thought of a God being ever-present. Difficult because I can’t rule it out, but I can’t commit to the faith either. Any faith to be honest. So it certainly stemmed from my readings around that extreme Christian view, but it also refers to my relationship with religion.

I have to say, I do really like “Dancing with Daisy.” What’s this song about?

Nathan Baverstock: Thank you very much! Dancing With Daisy was one of the first songs myself and our guitarist and co-songwriter (Ross) wrote together. I think I was around 16/17 at the time. “Dancing With Daisy” is about falling in love with a stranger. I’ve seen Men get fixated by Women strictly just for their looks, especially on nights out. So it’s a narrative from a person who has a serious love and lust for this stranger and can’t stop thinking about her. It’s actually quite a dark song really, with the lyrical elements because it’s obsessive and a bit freaky really. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a love song with the title and melody, but that’s a decoy really. The character ‘Daisy’ is not the girl this person wants, she’s a rebound. I thought about a pub setting and what you see, and then took it from there.

I have to say I love this song, it’s got a lot of nostalgic elements for me and Ross too, so it feels nice to finally release it.

This song is fun in that it only picks up at the very end. What inspired this kind of progression - did you have any other artists in mind as you developed this track?

Nathan Baverstock: It never used to to be honest it had a kind of bridge at the end but when we were in the studio just before laying it down we were toying with a big ending. Ross’ guitar sounds great and it really adds momentum with the drums. I think songs like ‘If I Get High” – Nothing But Thieves and Los Campesinos! “You, Me, Dancing” were the ones I had in my mind about how there’s a kind of big change in there. It was also deliberate to not have any vocals in that part, it was all about the guitars and drums taking over the track.

What do you feel these two new songs say about The Islas in 2020?

Nathan Baverstock: I think we had a great 2019, and were so ready to push on in 2020 but of course it didn’t pan out that way, as the World stopped for a while. I think these tracks show more of our potential and we have a good versatility as a band.

What are the band’s plans for the remainder of the year - can we expect more music in the pipeline?

Nathan Baverstock: There will be another release in late 2020 which we are really exited about as it is very different. We’re headed into the studio again in the Winter and anticipate more music in 2021. We also promised ourselves never to go this long without a release again! So no more 13 month vacations! We’re dead excited to push on doing what we love, and we hope you and your readers at Atwood Magazine enjoy our new music!



— — — —

Close - The Islas

Connect to The Islas on
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
📸 © 2020
art © Allen Key Media

:: Stream The Islas ::

 



Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com