Interview: It's Time To Get Wasuremono On Your Radar

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Each time you listen to Wasuremono, your ears are filled with magic. Made up of William Southward, Madelaine Ryan and siblings Isaac and Phoebe Phillips, the indie/dream-pop four-piece from Bradford-on-Avon caught our attention after releasing their single 'Are You OK?' — which is a radiant and captivating song about reaching out to others. Currently prepping up for the release of their second album Are You OK (due for release on June 14th via The Wilderness Records), I chatted with Will and Madelaine about the album, their live shows and what they've got coming up.

You played Live at Leeds, The Great Escape and Dot To Dot recently. How was it?

Will: It was awesome. We got to go to Glasgow too, which was great. There have been some pretty long drives lately.
Madelaine: It's been really worth it. The gigs have been lovely and it's been nice meeting new people, as well as having people sing along in the crowd.

What's it been like being able to test new stuff out from the upcoming album?

Will: It's been great. It's been well received too, which is good. It's funny, the singles we've released off this album have done quite a lot and have caught more attention recently than the other singles we've done in the past. They've gone down really well live too, which is great. Isaac the drummer has got his work cut out, because he's got to play all these samples, as well as the drums at the same time. So there's a lot of '80s-style drum machines and things he's got to trigger as well as singing at the same time.
Madelaine: It's been fun. As a band, we're really enjoying playing new stuff.

The showcase shows can be quite smash-and-grab, and they happen really quickly. Do you enjoy the fast-paced sort of gigs?

Madelaine: We're getting better at it. They are really fast, and changes happen quickly. You have basically 15 minutes to get on. You might, if you're lucky, get a little soundcheck in, and then you've just got to play, and then you have to quickly get off again. It can be a little bit stressful, but we've gotten slicker and better at it.
Will: We had to learn the hard way because when we supported The Flaming Lips, they have unicorns and lots of stage props onstage, and we have to fit in a really tight space, and then set-up and pack-up quickly.

Supporting the Flaming Lips must have been really cool. What was that experience like?

Madelaine: Surreal, but really good fun too. Those guys were amazing and incredibly inspiring, in terms of what they're doing visually. The shows they put on are just incredible. They're so, so creative and inventive and generous, it was really awesome.

You mentioned earlier that the singles this time around have been getting much more attention. What has the response been like?

Will: It's been good.
Madelaine: Yeah, it's been nice.
Will: At our Great Escape gig, we had one of the senior editors from Spotify come down and watch us, and he said he's been listening to our music for quite a while. We're almost at a million streams for 'Are U OK'. Maybe the new singles have got a bit more of a commercial sound, I think, this time around. I'm not sure why. I always wonder why it's been better received.
Madelaine: I guess the music is progressing. It's nice because we're getting support from the radio here too. It's great being able to track the radio plays and all the support.
Will: We've had a lot more European support this time as well. We've been getting on playlists in Switzerland.
Madelaine: In Canada too.
Will: Japan as well and all over the place this time around, which has been so different from the last release.

Well, we're going to have to get you some radio play here in Australia too.

Will: Madelaine's brother actually lives in Sydney.

We should all band together and make it happen. We'll all start requesting (laughs).

Madelaine: Yeah, we should (laughs).

Is it easier going into a second album with more momentum? Or having gone through the album process before?

Will: I think so. Whenever you have new ideas, it's always really exciting. I think the easiest part of writing is the initial sort of ideas in the early stages. It's the finishing which is a lot harder, isn't it?
Madelaine: Yeah, definitely.
Will: I guess after how well this one has been received so far, I think we now have an idea of what people want to hear for the next one, I guess.

Your debut album came out last year, and some people might say that it's archaic to wait years to do another album, or that the album cycles are getting shorter now. Why did you decide to do another one so quickly after your debut?

Will: Because I record and write everything in our own studio, we don't have to wait on anyone else. It's completely DIY. We don't really need to wait around, so when there's new music to be recorded, we don't have to go by any rules, It's completely up to us.
Madelaine: We've got new songs already.
Will: Yeah, I'm already on the third album now.

Did you have to start from scratch for Are You OK? Or did you draw upon Something Left Behind?

Will: The new album is mostly from scratch, I think.
Madelaine: Yeah, there's one song that's an old song that we've got on it.
Will: There always seems to be an old song on an album that has been quite tough to finish previously. Sometimes going in with a new mindset can help finish things we've worked on in the past. But most of the songs on the new album were completely brand new demos. It's quite a different sound from our previous stuff.

The album, as well as the singles that have come through so far are quite moving. And I think anyone who's encountered battles with their mental health will connect with them. What message were you hoping to deliver with the album?

Madelaine: I always find that when Will writes, it comes through like an unconscious stream of words. So you [Will] usually start with the melody and then connect the words. But what's been really interesting about this album is that each song has explored mental health.
Will: A lot of these songs are what I was wanting to hear at the time. When you're in your studio months on end it can be quite challenging on your mind, I guess. Some of the tracks were not just written for me, I made them also for some close friends and family who were going through tough periods as well.
Madelaine: Yeah, I think a lot of the songs have a degree of reassurance.
Will: They're kind of supposed to be reassuring songs, I think. Hopefully, people will find comfort in some of the lyrics. There's not too many depressing tunes on it.
Madelaine: Even if lyrically, there might be parts that explore down moments, but musically, the song's still uplifting. In a way, they make you feel less alone. Some of the songs are kind of fitting, like, "we can be in it together."
Will: And then there's some tongue in cheeks songs. I guess, like 'Lonely Type', where it's sugarcoating some things a bit.

Where were some of the other places that you went to for inspiration?

Will: With the last album and this one, there's been different drum machines that I've managed to get ahold of. With this one, I managed to get an old Linn Drum Computer that was made famous by Prince. So its kind of got that '80s sound to it. I think with some of the faster tunes, it was a challenge trying to write a catchy pop tune.
Madelaine: I think playing live has really furthered those upbeat songs, especially with festival season and when everyone is having a good time. The songs on the album are uplifting and people can move, which is nice.
Will: Also, the main other influence is probably old guitars. That's the kind of thing that fascinates me, I really love old guitars.

What's coming up in the next couple months for the band?

Madelaine: So the album is going to be out in a couple of weeks on 14th June.
Will: We're also going to have an album launch party in London on 19th June at Sebright Arms.
Madelaine: Yeah, we're really excited about that. We've got a few festivals and gigs coming up too. During all of that, we're working on new material.
Will: Definitely writing new material. There's a lot of things in Europe in the pipeline as well. It's kind of the way things are, they can come up quite unexpectedly.
Madelaine: Sometimes things are planned for a very long time and sometimes they come up quickly. For example, we were offered The Flaming Lips gig just a few weeks before. You have to be ready to go when opportunities arise.
Will: We've got festival season as well. We're playing the Main Stage at Bluedot Festival as well, which will be good.
Madelaine: FarmFest as well.

That all sounds very exciting, there's so much that's coming up. 

Will: It is. There's a lot of work, but we really enjoy it.
Madelaine: We also make our own music videos at the moment, as well, so we're kind of collecting ideas for another video.
Will: Yeah, I just found this old spacesuit on eBay, but it really smells, so we're going to have to do something about that.
Madelaine: Yeah (laughs), it smells like someone's cigarettes all over it.

I can't wait to see what you do with it (laughs). That sounds so cool though! Thanks for chatting with me, I really appreciate it. 

Madelaine: No, thank-you!
Will: Thanks a lot.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

You can pre-order Wasuremono's sophomore album Are You OK? here.

Follow Wasuremono:

Listen to their recent single 'Self-Help':

Live dates:
19th June - Sebright Arms, London
22nd June - In-store acoustic/signing - Rough Trade, Bristol
19th July - Bluedot Festival, Cheshire
26th July - FarmFest, Bruton
More information is available here