(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #324: East India Youth

By on Monday, 12th January 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

The UK music scene is littered with bands and artists chipping away at the coalface of rock, essentially unwavering at the kind of music they believe is their strength, putting in the hard work of songwriting and gigging. While this approach does eventually pay off for some, it seems for most fledging bands, they’ll not had the luck to be discovered by an A&R bod who just happens to stumble into the pub where they’ve set up to play for the evening. So they continue on as they were. Yet every now and again, you hear a success story in which an artist realised he was going about it all wrong, was able to switch gears and head in an entirely different direction that ultimately paid off.

William Doyle, who now goes by the stage name East India Youth, has such a tale that led to his debut album ‘Total Strife Forever’ to be nominated for the 2014 Mercury Prize. There can’t be much higher praise for a release I have to assume is a friendly poke at Foals‘ similarly titled LP ‘Total Life Forever’, which was also up for a Mercury gong 4 years prior. But the Bournemouth artist’s career in music didn’t start with the electronic music he’s now known for. Doyle previously fronted Doyle and the Fourfathers, a Smiths-esque indie band from Southampton who were championed early on by BBC 6music presenter Marc Riley.

Though the band seemed poised on the edge of breaking into the mainstream, Doyle himself found himself disillusioned by the touring and “playing with hundreds of Oasis-y, laddy, pubby rock bands”. Somewhere along the way, electronica and ambient sounds proved to be Doyle’s saviour, and Doyle re-emerged under the moniker East India Youth, christened after the East India Docks area in east London where he laid his head during his songwriting days for ‘Total Strife Forever’. It was John Doran, founder of The Quietus, who decided to take a chance on Doyle’s new venture, releasing his ‘Hostel’ EP as the Quietus Phonographic Corporation’s first ever issue.

Judging from the kind of attention East India Youth has garnered since the Mercury nom of Doyle’s debut album with the project, Doran had incredible foresight. From the iciness of opening instrumental track ‘Glitter Recession’ to the remarkably soothing vocals of LP standout ‘Heaven, How Long’, from the dancey abandonment of ‘Dripping Down’ and the freneticism of ‘Hinterland’ to the unearthly, quasi-religious tones of ‘Songs for a Granular Piano’, ‘Total Strife Forever’ is a richly textured effort. How Doyle will pull off the many facets of his acclaimed debut in Austin in March at SXSW 2015 remains to be seen but I, for one, am quite interested to see how he’s received.

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