ALASKALASKA only formed a year and a half ago, but already this six-piece have built a cult following from a handful of dates in their native London. Short but sweet, these low-key shows are rammed with sweaty punters all raving to a monstrous groove. Everyone leaves elated, totally enraptured with the band’s jazz-infused art-pop that blends disco, funk and R&B into a rambunctious new sound. Anything but the icy exterior their name suggests.
We first got the goss on them in May when they dropped debut single ‘Bitter Winter’ – a swirling, proggy epic paired with the equally excellent B-side ‘Familiar Ways’. Now they’ve released ‘Patience’, a new track from their soon-to-be-released debut EP – offering more proof of their sterling studio chops to match the fearsome live reputation.
Next is a support slot on Alvvays’ upcoming UK tour – the perfect opportunity to get to know them a little better. We sat down with vocalist Lucinda John-Duarte and bassist Fraser Rieley to talk songwriting, sweaty recording studios and accidentally sounding like The Police.
How did you guys meet?
Lucinda: It was kind of an experiment at the beginning. I met Fraser (bass) and Callum (guitar) at Goldsmiths University, where we all did the Popular Music course. The rest of the band I’d known previously. It was like two separate worlds colliding.
Did it work straight away?
Lucinda: I wasn’t sure if it would. Fraser, Callum and I are from quite a pop music background, whereas the others come from jazz. It was an interesting combo and a bit of an experiment to begin with.
Fraser: Our first gig was only a year ago. We’d been practicing for so long that we’d forgotten what the point of it all was – to play shows and record.
You’re known as an amazing live band. Is that important to you?
Lucinda: In the past we only played once a month, so it’s always an event when we do gig and we really enjoy it. But I hope in the future it’ll be a more equal balance. I want to be known as a band you go and see but one you listen to on record as well.
How would you describe your music?
Lucinda: Art dream-pop.
Fraser: It feels bad using the word pop.
Lucinda: It’s become sort of a dirty word recently but we’re revelling in it. Hopefully it’s the kind of music that gives people pleasure.
Who are your influences?
Lucinda: In terms of songwriting, I listen to a lot of 80s bands like The Smiths and Talk Talk. But really it’s a bit of everything. Sometimes we’ll start playing and it’ll sound like a Police song. Other times it’ll be completely different.
Fraser: We’ve been listening to a lot of Bloodorange in the studio. It’s the right side of being just a bit naff but still cool, smooth and funky.
Tell us about the new EP ‘ALASKALASKA’
Lucinda: It’s about feelings and figuring out what to do with them. It’s about looking hard times in the eye and then making a big song and dance about them.
How did it come together in the studio?
Lucinda: We were all crammed into this shoebox recording studio. Everyone was really sweaty and rushing outside to cool down every few minutes. We had all these new toys to play with and we didn’t know what to do with them. So we listened to a lot of synth music and took inspiration from that. Without a doubt, it’s the best thing we’ve ever done and we’re really excited to finally share it.
29th August – Talking Heads, Southampton *** supporting Alvvays
3rd September – Institute 2, Birmingham *** supporting Alvvays
4th September – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham *** supporting Alvvays
6th September – Bullingdon Arms, Oxford *** supporting Alvvays
7th September – Gorilla, Manchester *** supporting Alvvays
8th September – Koko, London *** supporting Alvvays
11th September – Point Ephemere, Paris *** supporting Alvvays
12th September – Blue Shell, Cologne *** supporting Alvvays
13th September – Molotow, Hamburg *** supporting Alvvays
14th September – Musik + Frieden, Berlin *** supporting Alvvays
16th September – Trix, Antwerp *** supporting Alvvays
17th September – Ekko, Utrecht *** supporting Alvvays
18th September – Bitterzoet, Amsterdam *** supporting Alvvays
28th September – Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club (EP Launch Party)
ALASKALASKA’s debut EP ‘ALASKALASKA’ is out on 29th September via Marathon Artists’ imprint House Anxiety