On Cracking The Charts And Twenty-Something Blues With Indie Hotshots Low Island

Amrit Virdi

Following the April release of their debut LP If You Could Have It All Again, Oxford mob Low Island and their expansive brand of sophisti-pop are poised for a breakthrough. After an intense release week, Amrit Virdi caught up with lead vocalist Carlos Posada on lyrical stimulus and the album as a symbolic twenties-shaped capsule in time for the band.

Being an independent band, the four-piece indie quartet not only wrote and recorded the album but self-led the promotion and marketing, explains Posada as he describes the release week as one of “not much sleep but good!” Explaining that he “didn’t realise how stressful it was going to be,” the singer reiterates “because we’ve put everything out on our own label and we’re running everything ourselves, you feel like you’re kind of just firefighting all the time, making sure the vinyl are going out on time, the CD’s going out on time and that everyone has all the information that they need.” Being an independent band is what Posada describes as “a real balancing act.” Although the business side needs to be looked after, “you are still ultimately someone who sings and plays the guitar,” he laughs, reflecting on how best to manage being a creative and a manager.

With the record completed before the pandemic struck, the drive of the band to deliver a cohesive record in a professional manner is evident, despite the challenges that they faced due to the lockdown. Being resourceful was a must, with drummer Felix Higginbottom tapping into his passion for film and masterminding the production of videos that the band produced during the pandemic. “The thing that was really affected was working out how best to get the record out there, and that’s where we started having to be more resourceful, and that’s where we started filming lots of live videos and commissioned some animations and some remixes,” Posada explains as he details the struggle of releasing a record without physically being able to meet anyone due to the absence of live radio sessions and gigs.

“There was a time last year when we didn’t think we’d release a record, so to be at this point is extraordinary.”

Yet the evident perseverance of the band clearly paid off. The expansive, eighties-drenched single Don’t Let The Light In has amassed over a million streams on Spotify and the album was a clear contender for the UK Top 40 Charts battle. “We really had no idea about the charts thing and then it suddenly became possible,’’ Posada admits. Peaking at #71 in the UK Official Charts and at number #2 on iTunes, the gratitude and shock in Carlos’ voice doesn’t go amiss as he praises the band’s loyal fanbase. “We’re just really happy and really proud of ourselves that we, A. Made it this far, and B. So many people want to support us and want to buy the thing. It was really moving yesterday, all these people buying the record and helping the band. There was a time last year when we didn’t even think we would release a record, so to be at this point is pretty extraordinary.”

Finally put out into the world and being enjoyed by fans across the globe, the record is a clear indication of the band’s daring genre-warping sound, which they state as being “a conscious decision to blend the indie side and the electronic side.” With Posada and band member Jamie Jay both being involved in dance music and being in an indie band at university, with Jay also DJing on the side, he states “there was this kind of natural desire to bring together those two elements” with their influences being artists such as Caribou, Radiohead, PJ Harvey, and Warpaint. Drawing from their roots in various genres of music, the band doesn’t dare to think outside the box, with tracks such as In Your Arms and Spaces Closing In being a perfect example of their experimental sound.

On a more insightful level, Posada refers to the record’s self-aware lyricism and the record itself as being about “looking back over your twenties, really a record about reflection and thinking about the decisions you made in your life and whether they feel like the right decisions or were actually wrong ones. That there was this sort of fork in the road. You took a wrong turning at one point and as a result of that wrong turning every step afterwards was affected.”

With the band still balancing other jobs alongside their music career with the aim to make a full-time living from their craft – Posada is currently studying for a Masters degree and Jamie Jay working as a DJ – the lyrics of the record reflect making these fork-in-the-road decisions and comparing your progress to that of your peers. Specifically, career-wise, the lead singer ponders, “you start realizing that actually there’s a lot of things you sacrificed pursuing these sorts of careers. And then that always makes you question whether it was a good idea and that’s natural and understandable,” as he aims to put out a message to fans that “it’s okay to have self-doubt sometimes.”

It can be safely assumed that Posada’s goal to create a “human record” has been achieved

While the band are yet to start work on any upcoming records, I asked where they’d like to be in ten years-time and elicited an insightful response. “Obviously there are really big goals that everyone has and then I think smaller or shorter-term goals that are in some ways more important and easier to sort of aim for. My main goal personally, and I think the same for the rest of the band, is to just be able to actually make a living from what we do. It’s so difficult to make a living in music, and I think if we could be making a living from this and be touring regularly and have fans who are still interested in buying the music and supporting us by coming to shows then that would be great.” Such stark realism from the lead singer proves that the rawness of the record is reflective of how the band hope to portray the reality of the music industry to their fans, proving that it isn’t a world of glitz and glam for hardworking independent bands like Low Island.

In terms of right now, it can be safely assumed that Posada’s goal to create “a human record” has been achieved, as the album marks a memorable and insightful moment in the band’s career. If You Could Have It All Again is available to stream and buy now, and there is no doubt that the band’s future will be just as promising.

Amrit Virdi

Featured image courtesy of Evelin Van Rei via Sonic PR. In-article image courtesy of Low Island via Facebook. Image use license found here. Images granted to Impact by their owners. No changes made to these images.

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