Indie-pop newcomers OUTLYA are fast becoming 2017’s breakout purveyors of addictive, bombastic pop. This summer saw the trio take such singles as ‘Howl’, ‘The Light’, and ‘Heaven’ to the stage at numerous festivals including Latitude, Y Not, and Reading & Leeds. Their most recent single ‘Volcano’ has proven to be a repeated live hit. With a characteristically soaring chorus that begs to be chanted by a crowd, it’ll have you singing along in no time.
Despite this increasing success, however, when I meet with the band before their first ever headlining show at The Camden Assembly on 19th November, there’s no arrogance or hauteur about them. They’re friendly and relaxed – though they’ve apparently spent the day running all over London sorting out all the pre-show technical things nobody tells you about when you start a career in showbiz. As I arrive, their lead vocalist, Will Bloomfield, is fixing a badge with superglue. The other members of the band – Willem Olenski on rhythms and bass and drummer Henry Kiliminster – are relaxing before the show. Their sense of anticipation is palpable, but the conversation is relaxed and flows easily as we get down to discussing their music and their careers so far.
WARNING: the following contains scenes of minor superglue-related disaster. Proceed with caution.
How did you guys start making music together?
Henry: Will and I met [first] – we both did the same music course at uni. And we met [when] we were both playing in adjoining practice rooms and I heard a song I recognised that he was playing, he heard a song he recognised that I was playing, and [we] just kind of got to know each other from there, and decided to be a band.
That’s very cool! You’ve said you like to be as hands-on as possible when you’re making your music – what does that mean for you guys?
Henry: It’s more like in terms of the art – like, you know, doing everything from the studios, doing our own music videos and everything like that, doing our own photos. We really love doing everything that encompasses being in a band.
What’s been the most surreal moment of being in a band so far?
Will: I don’t think we’ve had anything that surreal yet…
Henry: I think that gig at Y Not was pretty cool.
Will: Yeah, we ended up playing to about – I don’t know how many hundreds of people – by accident basically.
By accident? How did that happen?
Henry: They had like torrential downpours the night before…
Henry: We got there, and it suddenly just became really sunny, and we played for like half an hour on the main stage, and everyone came down to see us. And then when we left the site we found out that the festival had been cancelled because the rain had started again! [Laughs] And yeah, we got the one spot that was like, rain-free, which was great!
Yeah! So you’ve been doing lots of gigs and stuff [recently], are there any moments that stand out to you as particular highlights? I guess that’s one of them!
Will: Yeah. One of them, yeah.
Henry: This one – it’s gonna be our first headlining show, that’s pretty cool.
And you’ve sold it out, right?
Will: Yeah! Which is fun!
Will: Yeah, a lot of festivals. Our agent’s got us a tonne of stuff this summer, which we didn’t expect to get, so… Ahh, ok, I’ve just superglued my fingers together!
[Slight commotion as Will tries to unstick his fingers]
Willem: Um, yeah, Barn on the Farm was probably a highlight – we’ve known the people who work at the festival for years. And we played and got a really nice slot and a really nice crowd; it felt like a bit of a homecoming.
Yeah, that’s really cool. You’ve said that you revisited ‘Volcano’ [for a single] after hearing the reaction that it got at festivals. When you write songs, do you think about how they’re gonna play live? Is that a priority?
[All murmur in agreement. Will is still busy with the superglue.]
Henry: Yeah! I think especially this time seeing as we’ve played it live so many times we kind of know the parts and what works, [and] what doesn’t work, so it’s quite a straightforward process this time – just honing it, rather than developing it kind of thing.
Describe the process of writing ‘Volcano’ – where did you start, how did it develop?
Will [now unstuck]: It’s a very old song…
Will: And it was written on the piano, and it started off very folkelly-dokelly. And then it was very… What was I really into? Oh! I was at Latitude Festival, and I saw Sigur Rós – I think it was Sigur Rós – and they were really, really good. And, yeah, there was just something about all their really big vocals [that] was really cool. So I was like, ‘I want to make something that sounds really giant’ – ‘cause all their songs are really big and expansive, and volcanoes are very big and expansive, so I thought that’d be a good name for a song. So yeah, that’s where it came from.
That’s really cool. What do you think the hardest thing about starting out in the music industry is, and what advice would you give to other people who are trying to do the same kind of thing?
Will: Probably… having patience is the biggest thing. [The others murmur their agreement] The hardest thing is… I don’t know! The patience thing is probably the biggest thing – it takes a lot longer now obviously than it used to, to get things going.
Willem: At the same time, like, there’s no harm in… Never be afraid to try something new. If you’re doing it because you feel like you have to then don’t do it. But at the same time if you’re open to the idea of trying something new, just try everything. Don’t be precious about it.
Never be afraid to try something new… just try everything. Don’t be precious about it.
Willem: Yeah, like, there’s always that mentality of ‘Oh, we can’t afford a music video this time so we’re not going to do one’ – go and make one yourself on an iPhone. It’s like, that’s part of the fun of it. And people will engage with that more than not having anything to engage with.
[Background discussions of solutions to the ongoing superglue problem]
What are your plans or goals for the next year and a bit?
Will: Play more of our own shows. We’d like to go on our own tour, which we’ve never done before – we’ve never actually had an actual ‘tour’. So that, and then… Keep on releasing new music, keep on watching our ‘listenership’ grow… [Laughter] It’s kind of been going up steadily, which has been nice, so keep on doing that – hopefully get some more touring under our belts and have a nice… I felt like this summer was a really good preparation for what we can do next year. So yeah, we’d like to do more festivals and more shows and release more music and maybe even release something more substantial!
Watch the official video for ‘Volcano’ below:
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