INTERVIEW: Neon Islands

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hello! We’re good thanks, trying to get on with things after such a strange and intense year. It feels great to be putting music out, but also pretty weird if I’m honest. I think we are a bit nervous after all this time in isolation. So happy to be chatting to you guys too, thanks for having us.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Moon”?

“Moon” is a very special song for us for many reasons. I think firstly because musically it goes somewhere we have been trying to go for a while and I think we have finally found a good balance between all the sounds that influence us. We normally put a lot of elements in, like a lot of ingredients in a recipe, and sometimes it works better than others. “Moon” is definitely one of those songs where it’s worked perfectly, being built musically as a group from scratch, which is always tough. But also “Moon” is super important because of what the lyrics are about.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I wouldn’t say an event in particular but more of a process. The lyrics talk about the challenges that come with a long-distance relationship, and the confusion generated by the sadness of being apart. It really shocked me how starting a long-distance relationship felt pretty much like breaking up. Also, I’m not sure if social media makes easier or harder. You would think it makes it much easier, but there are actually a lot of challenges that come with that too, like the need to be in constant communication, which is not healthy for any relationship I don’t think. The one event that I would say inspired the song is when I found myself for the eleventh time waiting at an airport – I just felt something about that was completely wrong.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

Music videos are an amazing experience for us normally, because we always use the same team and it kind of feels like a family gathering every time we do one. This time it was even more so, because we got to do the video after the lockdown ended, so we hadn’t seen each other for ages. We had never done a video with a lot of performance in – we always try and make stories around the songs. For this one, we really just wanted to present the aesthetic of the band in a very clear way. We also wanted to express all the sadness in the lyrics through just our performance and our acting, which was definitely a challenge. But I think that is what makes the video so honest. You can kind of see that I’m a bit heartbroken, and I like that.

The single comes off your new album Progress – what’s the story behind the title?

We feel like the idea of Progress is being taken for granted a little bit by our generation. There’s technological progress everyday, more than ever in history, but, is that really progress? Maybe we are leaving behind other areas that we should definitely be improving as a society, especially those that have to do with emotions. We feel like learning how to deal with all the emotions we portray in the songs, is also vital progress.

How was the recording and writing process?

The music for the song happened in the rehearsal room. Sometimes it happens that way – someone comes in with an idea and in a matter of a couple of hours you have a structure for a song, kind of like the bones of it. Then we all go home, write better parts and come back together and play them again and again, until it feels great. For the lyrics, I normally like to write them in the calm and quiet of my room at night, but to be completely honest, my favourite lyric for “Moon”, which is “You were late to the airport, so I called my mum and we talked about my childhood” came to me on a train on the way to playing a show.

What was it like to work with Liam Nolan and how did that relationship develop?

We were super lucky to work with Liam in one of our previous singles, “Luck”. We didn’t actually work with him for this EP – we decided to self produce it with the help of our friends at Numen Studios. But we learnt so much from working with Liam in the past, that of course many of the things we discovered with him we apply to everything we do now. Especially the idea of trying to not lose that live sound of the band. When we recorded with him, we did a few live takes, and a lot of that ended up staying. I think that is so important to keep in mind.

What role does the UK play in your music?

The UK is where we all met. We are all from different parts of the world, and that is what makes our music a bit more out there I think, and it is what differentiates us from the average UK Indie Rock band. But of course, the UK is what we all call home now, so the thriving music scenes influence us by all means. We all love listening to music together, and some of our favourite bands are British.

What aspect of relationships did you get to explore on this record?

As I mentioned before, mainly the stress and confusion that comes from being apart. Relationships are not really meant to be long-distance, in my opinion. It’s almost like an anomaly, to me it just didn’t feel right. It’s so easy to lose touch and for your lover to almost become a stranger “It’s strange how we’re becoming strangers so soon”. It’s so tempting to just give up, that I truly admire people who make it work.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

The lyrics are quite introspective for most of it, but there’s also a mention to all the countercultural movements and political fights that the youth are being a part of. When I say “Under the ground generations are building brighter futures for us” I really mean it and I really believe in that. I think our generation has the tools and the knowledge to build an amazing future. We just need to not mistake the idea of leadership, like other generations have. That will be our main challenge I think.

What else is happening next in Neon Islands’ world?

Well, 2020 has obviously been weird, and it seems like 2021 is going to be too. We’ve realised that the one thing they can’t take away from us is the ability to write, record and release music. So I think that is what we are going to be doing!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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