Alternative pop duo Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville have been collaborating together under the guise of IDER for a while now, their first release ‘Sorry’ captured the excitement and authenticity of a creative union fizzing with chemistry, purity and purpose.
From there on it’s been song after song of engrossing atmosphere, melodic sensitivity and precision takes, IDER isn’t just an idea but a physical manifestation of the duo’s astounding talent. The lyrics look deep, fashioned out of intense situations and lived experience; the vocals simmer and soar, rest and roar, linger and last—it’s a post-Millennial burst of contemporary RnB, electronic nuance and evocative pop heart.
The live show is a continuous display of Meg and Lily’s versatility as artists and musicians, in the hour that they’re on stage the two showcase raw a capella, staggering sensations of harmonious design and a range of musicianship that sees each switch roles and stage position intermittently. In this the audience is able to experience both the vitality and diverse personalities that their music embodies, as well as Meg and Lily’s individual and integrated performance styles.
What becomes clear throughout is the affinity people possess with the songs, it’s not some private club where only a handful can truly understand and fathom its currency the music speaks deeper than that. What they sing of isn’t unattainable, it’s messy and real, and true to the human experience. It all boils down to emotional honesty and palpable resonance in which IDER seem to have forged a perennial power.
There is kinship present on the night they play a sold out show in Manchester, the intensity of adoration in the room is volcanic; eruptions of voice, movement and response takes crowd participation to transcendent places. Ahead of the show we speak to the band where we learn more about what IDER means to them, we discuss the foundations of their debut album and the voices that inspire them.
Welcome back to Manchester, this will be your first headline show as IDER. What makes this show different from what people might have seen before at festivals or in support slots?
Lily: “Well, it’s longer [Laughs.] The sound’s probably a bit bigger than it has been before. New music. More a capella’s.”
What have you noticed about the city from your previous visits to Manchester?
Meg: “F****** great crowd, man. Manchester was the second place on our tour to sell out which is quite amazing… I mean, we don’t have any roots here, we’ve only played… we did a support slot with Ibeyi last year and we played a festival as well but we haven’t like toured massively up here. I don’t know! People seem to like music, and they come out, and like a good time, and a good gig so we’ve had good experiences so far.”
Lily: “And good style. There’s really good style I’ve noticed.”
You have a long history even outside of IDER, meeting at University. What were your first impressions of each other?
Lily: “Ooo. Cast your mind back… My first impression of Meg was that she was very friendly and confident, and happy.
“And a very good musician.”
Meg: “I think I’d say similar things about you. I actually would. You took all of the nice words [They both erupt into laughter.] I’ll save the mean words. No. Yeah, I think, just very talented and confident, I guess.”
When did the topic of music first arise?
Lily: “Instantly. Because we were both on a music course together so we’ve only ever known each other as musicians, as well as friends as musicians. Our friendship’s based around music and our music’s based around friendship.
“Get your head around that!” [She adds with a giggle.]
Well, I had read that you’d been in bands together before IDER at Uni. How did you first hear each other sing—and what was your reaction?
Meg: “I can’t remember the first time I heard… it must have been at Uni, like, in the very first term. But it’s all a bit of a haze, you know what I mean?”
Charlotte, BSS: “Yeah it’s easy to forget.”
Meg: “Yeah. And it’s all a bit awkward, and you’re a bit shy, and overconfident sometimes, and it’s all a bit of a stressful time so I can’t really remember… Well, the first song we wrote together we remember. It was in my kitchen at my Parents’ house in London and that was a moment, you know, we’ve wrote our first song and that was like, ‘Yes, amazing!’ I remember that but I don’t remember the first time you opened your gob and started singing.”
Lily: “Yeah, same. Sorry.”
The alchemy of your combined vocals is a big part of what IDER represents to me, I’m so fascinated by the result that it makes me wonder if there is a process behind the outcome. Do your vocal parts naturally find their way into the best position for your voices, or does it take a while to find the right composition?
Meg: “Aww that’s such a lovely question. Yeah it’s very natural, isn’t it?” [Aside to Lily.]
Lily: “It’s really natural. And we have experience around that over the years of singing together… but I do think what’s natural always wins.”
Meg: “Like, the reason why we’re doing it, doing this, and the reason why it started in the first place is because of that chemistry, that initial chemistry—and actually, I think the best thing is when you’re not thinking. So yeah… magic.”
Why does 2019 feel like the best time to release IDER’s debut album?
[Meg lets out a gasp of excitement]
Meg: “Because it’s about time [They both laugh.] Yeah, we’ve been looking forward for this for a long time now. We’ve been writing away, lots of new music, we’ve been in the studio, it’s been a year in the making in terms of recording but some of the songs on the album date back to 2015/2016 so we’ve got a big chunk of music that ranges across a few years so it just feels… we’re just ready, ready to do it.”
What have you noticed about the songs you’ve been writing?
Meg: “I think we’ve pushed ourselves hugely in the last year.”
Meg: “Absolutely yeah. In terms of our writing, we are very honest on this record, like very, very honest. And that is the intention. We wanted to be as real and honest as we could be because we’ve come to realise that… in terms of us as a band that’s what we are noticing that people are responding to and holding on to, some realism.”
Charlotte, BSS: “Well I think ‘Mirror’ is a big example of that.”
Meg: “Yes, exactly yeah.”
I was imagining that the album was finished yet a look on your Instagram and it reveals it’s in the mixing stages. Has there been any last minute adjustments?
Lily: “No. I mean, we’re done. But it’s just being mixed at the moment so it’s kind of just like… yeah literally mixing and mastering, it’s like the icing and the cherry are being…”
Meg: “Applicated!” [They both have a chuckle at this.]
Lily: “Which is really exciting for us. This week is mixing, it’s being mixed this week. We were in the studio yesterday listening to the mixes, we kind of rushed back from Leeds to go into the studio before today and it is like, we are so proud and excited of this music, and f***, yeah just can’t wait to get it out and for people to be able to share it with us.”
Has anything stood out to you when listening to the mixes?
Meg: “It’s vibrant, it’s dynamic. And we have crossed genres within songs and within the album.”
Lily: “We don’t have to put a pin in it—“
Meg: “Yeah, it feels broad in terms of style and content.”
So, have you been writing since you finished recording for the album?
Lily: “Yeah we write all the time, don’t we?”
Meg: “Like, since the beginning of the year it has been very heavily [focussed on] wrapping up this album, and everything, so that has taken a front seat and [then] getting prepared for touring… but yeah we don’t stop. I’m excited for album two already.”
Lily: “Yeah I can’t wait.”
What’s the overall feel of the album?
Lily: “Vulnerable, real, empowering, confident.”
Meg: “Bold, but vulnerable like Lily said.”
Who are the voices you’re inspired by?
Meg: “There’s a lot at the moment.”
Lily: “I think a few voices would be SZA, Phoebe Bridgers, Alanis Morissette…”
Meg: “Billie Eilish. The 1975.”
Lily: “Ariana Grande. Always Beyoncé.”
[They both agree.]
What draws you to these artists in particular?
Lily: “A lot of strong women, I think. They’re bold, female voices.”
Meg: “Being unique.
“Phoebe Bridgers and Billie Eilish, to me, are completely different artists, you couldn’t be more different, but then they are so similar in so many ways. Like they’re f****** rock n roll artists. You know they’re singing about the way they’re pushing boundaries in the world of music today, that’s what I think is the biggest thing for me, I find.”
Charlotte, BSS: “I think they all have a vision and they’re all true to themselves as well.”
Meg: “Yeah, they’re true artists. They’re artist-led. Definitely.”
If you were given the opportunity to hear an artist of your choosing cover one of your songs, live lounge-style, who would you nominate and what would they sing?
Lily: “Oh my god, what a good question.
“What about Chloe x Halle? [To Meg.]”
Meg: “Yeah but that might be quite similar.”
Lily: “I’d really love to hear a hip-hop/rap artist do ‘Mirror’. Like with the rap in the middle. So like—“
Charlotte, BSS: “Kendrick?”
Lily: “Kendrick Lamar. I was literally about to say that, yeah.”
Meg: “Kendrick Lamar cover ‘Mirror’.”
To wrap things up and to bring it back to the live shows… already this year you’ve travelled a lot and played some of your first IDER shows in the Philippines and more shows in the US, additionally you started this tour in Falmouth (a town of significant meaning for IDER). What’s your outlook on performance now?
Meg: “We love touring, don’t we?”
Lily: “Yeah. I would say songs for us—and probably a lot of artists—find a real… you really settle into a song when you tour it, and that’s true for all the music that we play live. I think you find a real home for it in a weird way.”
Meg: “Yeah, and just to add to that, seeing how people react to different songs. You know, like, there’s certain songs that do so well for us—other artists I would imagine also agreeing—live, they just come to life more and I think that’s just because people are reacting to it in the room. So, songs can go on completely new adventures I think.”
Has the way you approach performance informed any other aspects of who you are as individuals and musicians?
Meg: “You get more confident. In our live shows we like to connect with people, and we like to engage, and we like to meet people, we don’t get exhausted really by meeting people and talking to people. Like, we are quite extroverted in that way.”
Lily: “And we really enjoy that because it makes it feel so much more connected, it makes more sense of everything for us.”
Meg: “Yeah I think it’s definitely helping us grow as artists outside of the show. So, afterwards when we’re meeting people whether it’s just selling merchandise or whether it’s in an interview it helps to kind of bring people into our world a bit more—because we’re best friends and IDER is all about our friendship… I don’t know, I feel that’s what we bring, we become friends… not to sound too cheesy but we—“
Lily: “We let people in to that.”
Meg: “So I think that’s what we have been learning as we tour.”
IDER’s current single ‘Brown Sugar’ is available to Stream/Purchase here.
Photo Credit: Rory James