I think if you don’t try to achieve a new sound then there’s something very wrong.
William Doyle, better known as East India Youth, certainly isn’t an easy guy to pin down. Already this year the suited electronic genius has hit the shores of America and Europe alike, holding his second album ‘Culture Of Volume’ proudly under-arm. I shared a few words as he was preparing to clutch at hearts and minds across the country, for his biggest headline tour to date.
The second album is certainly of the same blood as his Mercury-nominated debut ‘Total Strife Forever’, yet this time, Will strived to push forward. “I think if you don’t try to achieve a new sound then there’s something very wrong. There are similarities with this album, that kind of genre-hopping nature is still prevalent, but the extremities are taken a bit further”. Perhaps the most glaring difference is that Will’s vocals are at the forefront this time. He tells me of the confidence he’s picked up over the last couple of years. “I wanted to sing more this time. I’ve been singing a lot more when playing live and have been developing my voice, which I realised was one of my strengths”. Emotive songs like ‘Carousel’ are ultimately where this strength becomes obvious; the track’s eerie, solitary sound makes for a sombre listen indeed.
Such songs are juxtaposed against more intense moments, something Will always wanted to do. “One track would be more abstract and noisy, then I’d go into synth-pop, then industrial-techno next. Just in terms of how they were sequenced next to each other. ‘Entirety’ is the industrial piece on the record whereas ‘Carousel’ is the ambient exploration. So having those differences side by side is definitely the idea. It’s almost like ‘Carousel’ is the comedown from the massive rave of ‘Entirety”. It’s this unusual sequencing that drives the record forward. Perhaps a brave move on William’s part, I ask whether the success of his debut gave him the confidence to try new things with this one, “I think it was more about the way the live show was received and is developing. When you play a record live it’s the physical manifestation of people’s appreciation for it. So because the response there was quite good it really spurred the album on. That’s how the sound for ‘Culture Of Volume’ developed.”
When you play a record live it’s the physical manifestation of people’s appreciation for it.
Where the entirety of ‘Total Strife Forever’ was recorded in Will’s modest London bedroom, things were taken elsewhere this time around. “I actually recorded the vocals at XL Recordings’ studio, which is right next to their office, then we mixed the album in a different place. We kind of brought it out of my home a bit”. Signing to XL was a healthy move for Will, despite having some initial reservations.. “I guess I had a few misconceptions about the label before I started working with them, just because of the high calibre of acts that they work with. But they’re actually very keen to nurture their artists and let them do what they want… and to help facilitate their visions, really. It’s cool to be part of that as a creative family; that’s what helped this record to get pushed into the spaces it ended up in”.
For the most part, the album is quite lyrically-abstract. An exception, however, is the haunting miasma of ‘End Result’. “That song in particular is about how you’re a slave to your own creativity, and how it’s probably got more control over you than you have over it. It’s a constant battle that affects your own personal relationships and how you conduct the rest of your life.”
It’s hard to believe that East India Youth was born out of resignation, after reaching out for success and recognition in previous bands. ‘Total Strife Forever’ was an album that William felt he had to make, an attempt at reconnecting with what made music important to him in the first place. I tell him that it’s pretty incredible that a Mercury-nominated album came about this way and he laughs. “Yeah, it’s f*cking insane. That blows my mind, I think, and I really hope it continues to.”
Seeing Will in the live environment is an emotionally-draining experience, just from watching the amount of work he puts in. I ask whether this requires the absolute focus it appears to. “Yeah I guess, so but then the more you do it, the more it becomes muscle memory really. That’s quite good because you get more comfortable, which allows you to do more flourishes and stuff like that — which makes the live show more exciting both for me and the people watching.” He will of course be live in Bristol this month, which he is highly anticipating. “Bristol has some really good venues; I think Rise in-particular is a great store with great staff and good stock. I’ve always really liked the feel of the city in general and it’s nice that we can go there and get a good response every time. It’s one of my favourite places in the country.”
East India Youth plays Exchange on 2nd June, with ‘Culture Of Volume’ out now via XL.
Check out ‘Carousel’ right here: