What a last few months William Doyle, better known as East India Youth, has had. The electronic musician’s debut TOTAL STRIFE FOREVER gained the recognition it rightfully deserved by earning a Mercury Prize Award nomination last year and now he’s released his follow up Culture Of Volume, which has been matched with rave reviews. But wait he’s not stopped there! After recently supporting Jon Hopkins on his sell out Brixton show, William is now preparing to tour the UK. I got the chance to speak to William before he hit the road, talking about when he met one of musical idols Brian Eno to if getting a Mercury nomination adds any pressure to deliver again.
Firstly congratulations on the release of your new album Culture Of Volume, how does it feel to get it released? Did you feel like you had a lot to live up to due to your Mercury nod last year?
No pressure at all, really! About a week before the announcement of the Mercury I’d finished all of the tracking for this album and then a day or so after the ceremony we were in the mastering studio, so it very much felt like the next step was all sewn up. This allowed me to enjoy the experience of the Mercury a lot more, and it was a great time.
After getting nominated for the Mercury, artists can sometimes take a long break until they release their next record. However for you, you released Culture Of Volume 15 months after TOTAL STRIFE FOREVER, was this something you always planned to do before you got nominated for the Mercury or did the Mercury have a part to play in timing of the release?
No, it was already in motion regardless of the prize. I think this put me in a very strong position. You keep that momentum that you’ve built up with being nominated for the prize on your debut album. Young Fathers put out their next album on the same day as me this year, too. I think they had a similar feeling.
Moving on from the Mercury, you mentioned in Under the Radar that your “erratic behavior” of shifting between musical styles is part of you, do you think constantly trying different styles helps keep you full of ideas and helps prevent ‘writer’s block’?
Absolutely not, unfortunately. Writer’s block occurs whatever you try to do to avoid it sometimes. The best thing you can do is just to work through it. I don’t really think about what style I’m going to attempt at the start of each song, it usually just starts from a melodic or rhythmic idea and then as I work on it more and more, a style will present itself or it will have logically worked itself into that style. It’s one of the more exciting parts of the creative process for me.
So when you initially had the idea for Culture Of Volume, what was it that you wanted to initially achieve? Has it turned out differently to what you expected or has it remained how you set it out to be?
I definitely thought it was going to be entirely instrumental at the start of making it, but as my voice and confidence grew in strength over playing many shows in the 2 years of making this new album, I knew I wanted to play to my strengths a bit. I think that’s why the album has a much stronger pop oriented feel – it was all influenced by the increasing excitement of the developing live show. I think I’ve been able to expand on a lot of the ideas that I set out with TOTAL STRIFE FOREVER, and bring a lot of things to the next level. The extremities, however, are still off in the distance. I’m working on getting there.
I know you’ve only just released your latest album but you’ve already discussed how you have clear ideas for the third album and how you could potentially conclude East India Youth as a project there. Is this idea of potential album trilogy something that had been on your mind since the start of East India Youth or has it just developed as you’ve made your music?
Not really. I wasn’t even sure I meant what I said then, it was meant in a jocular fashion as I was being interviewed by my friend John Doran. But it did occur to me that this project may have a shelf life in terms of its aesthetic or artistic goals. My life as an artist, whatever project I’m working on, I don’t see as quite so limited. I do have a lot of ideas about the third record and I have definitely, probably foolishly, got it into my head that it is some kind of vision I’ve been working on for quite some time without really knowing it. That’s all I’ll say on that for now though. Need to keep some mythology for the PR next time round.
You recently supported Jon Hopkins in his sold out Brixton Academy show, how was that experience?
It was a lot of fun. Brixton’s a weird one. When you’re in the crowd all you really feel is that you’re in this sea of people. But when you’re on stage, due to the slightly ramped floor the audience stand on, you don’t see as much depth. It’s quite good for the nerves though, that. I was really flattered Jon asked me to do that show, it was a big one for him and for me also. It’s been great being around Jon for the last year or two and seeing his thing grow. He’s a really remarkable artist and person.
I read the article on you meeting Brian Eno the other day and I
thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a part where you mention that Music For Airports “chimed” with you straight away. I was just wondering if you’d ever make an album that was solely ambient styled music? Because Carousel could easily fit into Eno’s ambient work in my opinion and is some of your best work.
I wouldn’t rule it out. I do think that my strength is in melody though, and I wonder if that will always be at the centre of my work. Also I think each artist has a particular duration that their art is suited to. I’ve been making music between 3 and 8 minutes for nearly 10 years now, and I wonder if that will ever change. It might be nice to see if I can develop my work into larger – or shorter – forms. It’s all up in the air really though.
The article also mentions how Brian invited you to come back again another time, could there potentially be a small collaboration on the horizon in the future? It must be a strange feeling that someone who you looked up to when you were younger and inspired you to start music is now a fan of your work.
It is very bizarre, yes. I feel strangely calm about it though. I think it shows how amazing my life has become in the last 3 years that meeting and getting to work with one of my biggest heroes doesn’t make me a shivering sycophantic wreck of a person. It’s very exciting though. I don’t really care about what comes out of my meeting and working with Eno in terms of producing an actual product or him producing my album or something, I’m just so keen to learn from him and have really enjoyed being in his company so far.. Again though, let’s not rule anything out.
So you’ve got a string of UK dates starting on the 24th of May at the How The Light Gets In Festival and ending on the 5th of June in
Ramsgate, what can people who come to these gigs expect to see/hear? Obviously a mix of your discography but will there be any unreleased music in the set?
There is no new music yet to show anyone! Think the next one will take a little longer than the quick one-two punch of these first two albums. I should have sequenced the full headline set into quite a fluid thing by the time I get back to the UK as I’ll have been on the road fairly solidly for a month pretty much without rest. A lot of people have still yet to see my new set up, and it’s an energetic and exciting way to play this material. After SXSW this year I’m now really enjoying the live show and hopefully the audience can see this.
Is there any albums that you’ve heard this year that you think could make it to the Mercury?
I thought the Jane Weaver record from last year was really great, and it was released late enough to be considered this time. I’m still yet to have a real ‘moment’ with an album from 2015 yet, but there’s still a lot of great stuff about. The new Young Fathers album is great, too. I love them. I think it would be quite bizarre for the Mercury Prize to nominate the same band two years in a row, but I don’t think it’s ever happened that a band who have been nominated have then put out their next album in the consecutive year until now. Shows how much the industry has changed in the last few years I guess.
Finally what does the rest of the year hold for you?
A lot of touring and then finding somewhere to live outside of London so I can crack on with this next album in a more peaceful environment.
Tickets for his upcoming gigs are below and it’s a tour that definitely can’t be missed.
For those interested in purchasing Culture Of Volume then a link to where you can get it from is below.
I also want to thank William for talking the time to answer the questions and wish him the best of luck for his tour.