Getting inside the fortress that is BBC Radio 1’s playlist is no easy mission, even if you’re armed with such beautiful music that you make the most stubborn security guard cry. That’s why when London-based recent University graduates Arctic Lake sneaked on to the radio station with their downtempo indie track “Limits”, they described it as “a surreal feeling“.
We talk to the multi-regional band – Emma Foster (Boston), Andy Richmond (London) and Paul Holliman (Morecambe) – about this experience, as well as their gripping and intelligent music video and how they managed to juggle band responsibilities with their studies in Music Performance at University of Westminster.
Hello Andy, Emma and Paul. What are you roles in the band? Do they change from studio set-up to live performance?
ANDY: Our set-up stays very similar for both live and in the studio, however, we’re far more conscious of production whilst in the studio. We love to explore new sounds and experiment with our music, and this primarily takes place there.
What is your proudest live performance so far?
ANDY: Our proudest moment has to be our single launch for ‘Only Me’, it was such a fantastic night, and it felt so great having our fans there supporting us. The audience were really enthusiastic and made the night incredibly special for us. We hope that our shows will keep making us proud as we progress, as I feel we have so much more to achieve. We’d love to play shows outside of the U.K, and be able to get on the bill for some larger festivals. There is so much more for us to look forward to!
Radio 1 played your song “Limits” recently, How did they discover your song. I’m curious about the process.
ANDY: We have to give the praise to BBC Introducing, a phenomenal platform that connects unknown musicians with keen listeners, and in our case, major radio stations. It was such a privilege having our debut track “Limits” added to the BBC Radio 1 daytime playlist, and we couldn’t be more appreciative. Our hometown stations BBC Lancashire, Lincolnshire and London gave us lots of support by playing our track regularly, and I think it was because of their support that “Limits” made its way to BBC Radio 1.
How did you find out? How did you celebrate this achievement?
ANDY: It was a really cliche celebration in which we all rang each other up screaming down the phone with excitement. We tuned in for every show (even the 4am show) and listened intently – it was really surreal for us, and took a while to sink in.
University of Westminster’s website seem honoured to report that a trio of their students have been featured on a national radio station, are you local celebrities?
EMMA: Wow, no, far from it of course! Westminster and all our friends in Harrow have always been really supportive of us and that was just another example of them giving us more amazing support I guess.
I am guessing you all study music performance? Please give us a description of the course and how you think it will help/prepare you for the music world?
EMMA: Yeah we all study music performance, the course focuses on many different aspects of the music industry from songwriting to business; it has a great balance between practical and theoretical work and mainly encourages students to develop their abilities and understanding of the world they are trying to enter. For us, the best factor has to be meeting one another, but after that it gave us the freedom to concentrate on writing and experiment without restrictions. Some of the lecturers have helped us above and beyond, and really enlightened us in regards to aspects of the industry which are key, but often ignored by those solely focused on the creative elements.
Apparently the band are from Lancaster, that must mean you were formed before university? Is that right? What made you come to London?
ANDY: It’s actually a common misconception that we’re all from Lancaster, we’re from all over the country with Emma coming from Boston in the East-Midlands, Paul from down in London and myself from the Northern seaside town Morecambe, just near Lancaster. People probably make the mistake because of the tremendous support we’ve received from BBC Introducing Lancashire, so we’re happy to be associated with them. We all live in London now and met at the University of Westminster, and we formed the band due to a mutual love of each others musical style. I think the thing that attracted us to London was it’s thriving music scene, and that it has so much to offer.
Does London differ from Lancaster? What is the music scene like in Lancaster?
ANDY: Lancaster has an ace music scene with lots of great Jazz and Blues, and playing the circuit with different bands really helped develop me as a musician. However, I feel the home for our minimalist electronic sound really is London, we are always so happy to receive a warm welcome at our shows, and love living here.
Have you graduated yet? How hard is/was it juggling studies and your loyalties to the band?
PAUL: We all studied music so it actually tied in really well and helped us a lot – having rehearsal facilities and time on our course to dedicate to the band was really useful. We’ve just graduated now so are starting to get full time jobs whilst still trying to find a lot of time to make music.
Do you think that acts like The xx, Lapsley and London Grammar helped you develop and paved the way for your minimal, ethereal, subtle and melodic downtempo Indie? Especially considering that music on the radio used to always be energetic, wild and in-your-face?
PAUL: Bands like the ones you’ve mentioned definitely helped make this type of music more mainstream and popular, and perhaps allow a bit more room for artists like us too. We do take inspiration from them but we’re definitely not trying to imitate them in any way, we really want to create our own sound that people can associate with us.
“Limits” is a wonderfully written song about routine and how when it’s broken, you can feel hollow inside and… slightly obsessive. This is perfectly exemplified in it’s most simplest form in the music video. Is there a specific routine that made you feel like this? What are the routines that you abide by? Are any of you the OCD type?
EMMA: To me, ‘Limits’ is not about that, but this is what I love so much – that everyone is making their own interpretation and relating to it in their own way, I love that! it’s awesome! The music video was not actually scripted or conceptualised by us so again it was another interpretation of the song which is exactly what we wanted, and its been so incredible that people have again related to the video in a similar way.
Am I right in saying the whole band appear in the video once as passersby? Whose idea was that? Who directed the video?
PAUL: Yeah that’s right, we wanted to be in the video but not in an obvious in your face kind of way, so we did the cameo thing and hopefully it worked out all right. We didn’t feel that having us in the video for long periods, singing to the camera etc. would really fit the emotional feel of the song very well. The video was directed by Jimmy Dean, a good friend of ours, who took his interpretation of our lyrics and created something everyone could relate to.
Who writes the lyrics? Is there an overarching theme to all your music?
EMMA: Meeeeee, I wouldn’t say there is an intentional theme, but I think what I do aim to achieve is a real projection of human emotion and human situations. Situations not of fantasy or cinema cliche’s, no fickle love songs or happy endings – just simply real thoughts and emotional transcendence. Our main goal is make our audience connect with us, feel something and hopefully relate to the music, when you can relate to a song, identify with the music and the lyrics thats when music really becomes powerful and moving.
Have you got an EP coming out? What are your next plans of action?
PAUL: Right now we’re just concentrating on writing as much as we can, and not thinking too much about our next steps. It could be another single or an EP, we just know that we can’t wait to share it with you.
I CAN IMAGINE YOUR MUSIC BEING USED ON A SOUNDTRACK FOR A TRAILER OR DRAMA MONTAGE FOR BROADCHURCH? HAVE YOU BEEN APPROACHED BY ANYONE OF THAT NATURE?
I can imagine your music being used on a soundtrack for a trailer or drama montage for Broadchurch? Have you been approached by anyone of that nature?
PAUL: We haven’t been approached for anything like that actually, but it’s definitely something we’d love to happen. Our music is quite emotional and we think it would fit really well in that kind of scenario.
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Words by Matt Hobbs