Somewhere in North London, flatmates Lily Somerville and Megan Markwick are probably sat in one of their rooms, eating, watching Netflix, or most likely, writing music together. They make up the floaty, melodious electronic pop duo IDER, whose combination of effortless vocal harmony and dark lyrics have captured the capital’s attention of late. This week they played to a sold out Rich Mix, and earlier this month they were representing the UK at SXSW. We spoke to the pair to find out how they built their sound, and how the self-described “sisters” stay in sync on and off-stage.
How did you start writing music together?
Megan: That started in our first year of uni, where we met. We were put together in a project really early on, and we became really good friends, and realised that our voices sounded great together. As long as we’ve been friends we’ve been making music.
Lily: But IDER came later, when we moved in together after uni.
How did you build this particular sound?
Megan: Well we don’t really confine ourselves to one particular genre. We listen to a broad range of different artists and lots of different music, and in terms of our sound and our songwriting, we’re influenced by a lot of different styles. So electronic pop would definitely be there, but so would R&B, dark pop and dark moody elements.
Does it feel quite immersive?
Megan: Yes. We live and write in our bedrooms, so it is very immersive, and very consuming. But it’s great, and it’s what we kind of love and have come to know. Other people think we’re bonkers. They don’t understand how we don’t hate each other yet. But we don’t. We genuinely don’t.
Do you feel like sisters?
Lily and Megan: Yes!
Megan: We’re very much like sisters. We got mistaken for being sisters at Pret the other day.
Lily: We don’t even look very alike! I don’t know when that happened though, the transition to sisterhood.
Megan: I think it’s the voices. Our sound.
A lot of the lyrics have a strong ‘realness’ to them, and dark imagery. Do you devise those together?
Lily: It varies really, because we’re constantly writing and getting stuff down together because we live together, so in that sense it’s quite natural. A lot of the time it’s so collaborative that ideas and lyrics will be going round and round and you’ll forget who wrote them.
Megan: We’re always like, “did that happen to me or you?”
Lily: And we talk so much as well, every day is like therapy. We’ll go through stuff and create lyrics from that based on real experiences. So it’s a lot of collaboration in that sense. Then sometimes one of us will have written something and we’ll bring it to the table either musically or lyrically, so it varies, but it’s very collaborative naturally.
How important is your personal chemistry when you’re writing and performing?
Lily: I think that chemistry is everything. I would say it’s the most important thing. It’s at the centre and the heart of what we do. The strength of that is what creates everything that we create. When that is at its strongest is when we create the best stuff and perform the best.
And how does it feel to share that in a live context?
Megan: It feels great, but we’ll often perform imagining the audience isn’t there. That sounds like such a cliche, but it’s so important. The audience could be there or not, but we’d still be vibing off each other and focusing on each other to make the harmony as strong as possible. As an audience member that’s what I’d want to see. I’d want to imagine that if I wasn’t there, that would still be happening.