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Islet interview: "Doing It Together"

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 08:27 UK time, Monday, 23 January 2012

To celebrate the release of Illuminated People, the fantastic new album by Islet, I sent the band a bunch of questions to find out a bit more about what's gone on with the new record.

Cover artwork for Illuminated People by Islet

Islet - Illuminated People

Hi Islet. Your début album is ready to go - you must be excited?

"Yes way! We're very excited to have this record coming out. Releasing new music is always fun as you never know what is going to happen.

You're also off to Japan, so there's double excitement at the start of the year. What are you expecting from the experience?

"We delighted to get the opportunity to go and play in Japan. In many ways it is a dream come true! None of us have ever been before so it's a new experience for us all. One of our aims when we started the band was to be able to play festivals and gigs around the world and now that is beginning to happen."

Back to the new album, Illuminated People, did having an external producer make a big difference to how you worked?

"Yes, it was a very different way of recording and mixing. We had Drew Morgan at the helm and he produced it in a traditional sense. There were more mics and high-end equipment than we had when we were working by ourselves."

Are the songs ready to go before you head into studio, or is the way you work quite flexible and organic?

"Well, most of them were pretty ready but there are always a few question marks floating around."

There are some more tender songs on the album than we've heard before, which was quite unexpected - We Bow in particular. Is there a different creative muse in the Islet camp?

"It's funny, a lot of people have referenced the gentler moments but in fact we have always had tracks like that. One of the first tracks we released was called Sign For Home and it's kind of similar in its style. We like to make music that reflects the range of emotions we all feel as humans."

I believe a lot of the songs were written and ready a while before you went into studio. Is there a temptation then to meddle, and mess with them more and more before you record them?

"No, hardly any of them were written a long time before we went to the studio. It's the first time we'd recorded tracks that we hadn't played live first. Most of them were written and finished in the weeks leading up to the recording session."

Are there any bands around now that inspire and influence you? Who do you enjoy seeing on the live circuit or listening to?

"We played with Battles in Cardiff last year who we have admired for a long time and then were lucky enough to watch them again a week later at a festival we were playing in Slovakia. We also all enjoyed a Canadian band at a festival in Leeds called Braids; they are great!"

Shape Records has been pretty busy since the last Islet releases in 2010. Who've you been working with?

"Yes, it has been a busy time for Shape. In 2010 and 2011 we were very busy and released a couple records from the prolific H. Hawkline and Sweet Baboo. We were also chuffed as we released the first ever Truckers Of Husk album, Shape have been big fans of them for years so it was a lot of fun."

DIY seems to be working for you. What one good piece of advice would you give to someone starting out?

"Just go for it and enjoy yourself! We like to look at it as DIT - doing it together."

Will you be touring the new album?

"We will be doing a UK tour in May. The finer details are being ironed out at the moment and we'll have more details soon. We're looking forward to it already!"

Where are the best places for people to find you online?

"Our website is www.isletislet.com.We made it ourselves and it features a lot of contents from ourselves and from Ewan Jones Morris, our good friend and long term multi-media collaborator. Ewan is also coming to Japan with us to shoot an experimental documentary of our trip."

Islet will be in session with me on BBC Radio Wales, on Saturday 4 February, from 7pm till 10pm.

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