London based Sloes are quite possibly the best thing that 2015 has brought us, fusing contemporary indie music with classical elements, the band have created a captivating and unique sound that is distinctively their own. Having just released their debut EP ‘Chasing Tails’ the band are flourishing with potential and have set our hearts a-flutter with anticipation for what’s next.
We caught up with the band to chat further about their inception, their sound and the future for Sloes.
The story behind Sloes’ inception is very interesting, can you tell us more about that…
Me and Jo started writing together when we travelled through Columbia. We had decided to form a band when we were in London but both wanted to go and explore the world some more so we decided to get that out the way first. I was in Belize when I impulsively jumped on a plane and flew to meet Jo while he made his way through South America. Luckily I’d had a guitar made for me in Paracho in Mexico, which I had with me. We played constantly and wrote some songs we still play now.
After you all met and played together for the first time, when was the moment that you felt like this was the way forward and you knew that you had found the people that would make this band a reality?
It’s tricky to say, me and Jo knew we had the essentials when it was just me and him but finding the other pieces of the puzzle took a lot longer than we thought it would. Katie and Paul came along at the same time but we went through ten drummers before we came to Luke. There’s something about London and drummers…does a lack of space make them a rare commodity? They certainly act like it does! I guess things really started progressing once the line up was settled so after Luke joined things started to click.
There is a complexity to your music with multiple instruments and styles at work but every element always comes together in perfect unison, is it difficult when composing the music for you all to come to a final decision on the direction that the track is going to take?
It can be, I think the longer you work together the better you get at managing each other. Essentially deciding when it really matters to you and when it matters more to someone else. There’s certain things people are good at. Once you learn that you rely on their expertise in that area and it makes the whole process a lot smoother. Jo and Katie come from a classical background which is fantastic in relation to composition and theory. Paul writes great hooks and is studious at developing sounds by experimenting with different peddles all the time. Luke also plays guitar so he often gets involved in the writing process as much as anyone else. I’m no good with theory but I have a good sense of what works and I have an ear for composition too. I write the lyrics as well, I was a singer songwriter before Sloes so it’s always been something I’ve loved to do.
What’s the group dynamic like in Sloes? Do you each have your own roles within the band away from the music?
Away from the music I tend to manage us at the moment although that looks like it’s going to change very soon. You can try and delegate but essentially the same people end up doing it. I’ve come to accept that really. In the last year Katie has stepped up a lot and has been a huge help. Jo tends to have waves… To be fair everyone has been chipping in recently which makes such a difference. Playing and writing is a small part of a much larger project that needs managing. I think it takes time for everyone to really grasp that.
When it comes to social media, what’s your outlook on using it as a promotional tool?
It’s a necessary tool. Whether you’re naturally inclined to it or not, you need it. That’s it really, you just have to come to terms with using a variety of platforms and maintain that commitment as much as you can. I’d be lying if I said I enjoy all of them but I enjoy Twitter probably more than the others and have found it to be the most useful in terms of promotion too.
You just released your debut EP ‘Chasing Tails’, can you walk us through the meaning behind each of the tracks?
Chasing Tails has personal significance for me as it’s a song about losing someone close to you. It’s about ominous phone calls and a sense of impending doom. It’s also a reflection on how you deal with loss and how it’s best to stay positive in the face of adversity.
Devil in You refers to the feeling of saying something hurtful when your blood is up. About knowing that the text you just sent was a mistake but it being something you can’t retrieve. The damage is done and your lover is spurned.
Doubt is about sleepless nights and the anxiety that comes with trying to be a creative in a world that shuns creativity as something that should be seen as a hobby at best. It’s about losing sleep over what you are doing and wondering whether you should carry on. “I try to ignore and repress but worries are hard to neglect when answers fall short of silencing thought”.
Swan Song is more of a concept track about the old tale that just before a swan dies it sings it’s one and only beautiful song lamenting it’s passing from this world. “It’s wide and it’s vast, it’s loud and it’s crass, you cry as you clasp and hang on. It’s close and it’s near it’s tender and dear, there will always be fear wherever there is loss.”
Do you have a favourite track off the EP or maybe one that you were the most excited for everyone to hear?
I think often by the time you release something you have other favourites that you’ve written since. This EP was so long in the making that we started to struggle to have any concept of how good or bad the songs were. I think people like different tracks for different reasons, we deliberately chose contrasting songs so I think they represent different sides of the band. Swan Song is a long standing favourite and just always seemed to work. Chasing Tails brings something more stadium rock to the EP and we have a great video due out for this one so it has a certain affection because of this. It’s also great fun to play which always helps.
You’ve been slowly building and crafting your sound behind the scenes for the past year or so, would you recommend to new bands to go about their art this way – growing and experimenting with their music before they introduce themselves to the world?
I think the old cliché about finding your sound is true. It takes a while and you really have to just play a lot together to iron out the creases and get used to working with each other. Busking is a great way of cementing tracks and also playing to people without any pressure or expectation. Gigging is also important as it gives you new insights into what works and what doesn’t. It’s definitely better to not try and showcase anything to industry until you’re certain it’s at that level. People tend not to listen twice.
How does it feel to finally have your music out there and for it to be taken so positively?
The sweet feeling of vindication! Yeah it feels great to have people say positive things about our music. We were taken aback a little with the response but it’s been a really uniting experience for us as a band. If you just write and rehearse indefinitely you start losing sight of why you’re doing it. It’s a lovely experience when people take the time to write or just to say that they like what you’re doing. We also try and make the effort to do that with bands we like as it’s always received well.
What has been the biggest learning curve for you as a band so far?
I think probably prioritising. You tell yourself this is your career and that the other job is just your bread and butter but it takes a while for this to sink in for all of the band. There’s always people that do more it’s just natural but I think when things start moving everybody realises it’s all consuming and all hands on deck are needed. It’s a shift and I think once people start all contributing everyone notices what a galvanising effect it has. Also perhaps patience, me and Jo have been writing together for six years. Although the band in it’s current form has been together for a year or so we have been slowly working towards this for a long time. I think it surprised us just how long it was going to take.
What does the rest of the year look like for Sloes – more releases, gigs, tour?
Well, we set out with an aim of securing a manager from the release of this EP. Without wanting to jinx anything, we seem to be close to achieving our goal which is fantastic and very exciting. We have a huge showpiece event coming up on the 12th for London fashion week which involves House of Vans, Storm and Hunger TV. After that we should have more idea of what the next few months are going to look like. We are also recoding four tracks for Daytrotter this Saturday which is fantastic news and have a Mahoganny session in the pipeline in the next month or so. We were hoping to do a small tour of Germany later in the year and a rough plan to busk our way around the UK. Recording is also an ongoing thing so expect some more tracks in the not so distant future.
If your music was a person, how would you describe it?
Hmmmm… I’d say they would be articulate, idiosyncratic, meticulous and stubborn with a dash of charm and a whiff of teenage rebellion.
Sloes debut EP ‘Chasing Tails’ is out now on iTunes, buy it here.
Words: Charlotte Holroyd