With their third album Egg Tooth release gracing our ears last year, it really was the icing on the cake to hear the new single from the wonderfully soulful and diverse Ephemerals titled “In And Out“, recently released on the 8th of December, and what a superb early Christmas and New Year’s gift it was. The record is a refreshing burst of everything that Ephemerals bring best – modern soul, jazz, and uplifting energy.
You can find Ephemerals… well… in Nottingham, Paris, Brighton, Kent or Bristol, with the band living all over the place, but that certainly doesn’t stop them making collectively fantastic music.
With that, guitarist, writer and songwriter Hillman Mondegreen discusses everything Ephemerals with us, including yoga teachers and Buddhist literature inspired lyrics, two very exciting side projects, writing songs from boats on the River Trent to a different selection of sofas, oh we discuss it all!
Being a band with an incredible amount of soul and a library of unique sounds, their latest track “In And Out” is certainly a stand out moment. Recorded in Fish Factory Studios in London by Ben Lamdin (Nostalgia 77) and mixed in Laundry Studios, the story behind the creation of this track really is interesting.
“I started writing the verse lick on the guitar and it looks pretty when you play it. I later realised that it sounded nice also! I started to work on the vocal for it, with words like ‘tessellate a serenade / pepsi cola lemonade’ flying out. I was later in South Korea working on a project and reading Jack Kerouac’s ‘Wake Up’, which is a biography of the Buddha, so I just started plotting his early life into the melody and I came out with the song basically.
The chorus had nonsense lyrics that were just used up to help me build a melody, but I never managed to make something sound nicer than ‘Isn’t it amazing how we fall in and out of love’. In the full spirit of acceptance I decided to use it”, explains Hillman.
Hillman himself has always been a writer first, putting his musical side second, allowing him to keep the ego of the performance out of the songs. “I am not writing to give myself a great solo or to show off my playing – I write to make the band sound good as a whole and to create an impact on the listener“.
Currently in the process of releasing two separate side project albums with bands Goldhawk and Keke Mokoro, as well as writing the fourth Ephemerals album, the passion that Hillman has for music is really evident just through the never-ending effort that he ploughs into his music.
“We are not sure how to record the album yet, or how it will be released but I’m not someone who is bothered by uncertainty. It’s actually a huge blessing, when you have become skilled at something, to be forced back into instinct. There are too many artists/entertainers following the same formula all day, but I’m an artist, I don’t do safety”.
It is certain that Ephemerals aren’t your average band, with each member having their own story and background, projecting on their music, which offers an excitement that is so often missing. “Our lyrical inspirations for ‘Egg Tooth’ came a lot from my yoga teacher, Buddhist literature, loads of Alan Watts, and also from the things that people talk about at the dying hours or house parties. That said, the next album is more Hindu philosophy, but there is loads of yoga as well”.
Filled with such unique themes and thoughts, Hillman’s ability to project his ideas and allow them to spill onto the lyrics beautifully is really incredible and is heard throughout his music, and it is all because of his personal journey. “The place that I write my music changes with each album, because I’m conceptual I tend to change greatly with each record and I move a lot!
I’ve noticed now that I’ve made ten albums that I have a natural cycle with my albums and my lifestyle. ‘Nothin Is Easy’ was written on sofas because I was without a home at that time. You can tell from the music. ‘Chasin Ghosts’ was written when I was living in Soho London, you can tell by all the homeless people, buildings, alleyways, darkness. ‘Egg Tooth’ was written on my boat on the River Trent, you can tell because the river is mentioned all the time!”
Not only is their music a breath of fresh air and extremely inventive, so also is their approach to social media, with their Twitter only being used as an advocacy wing to promote positive ideas, their Instagram accoun only used for banter and entertainingly sweeping statements, while they post shots of their travels.
But Hillman himself is also a breath of fresh air, with nothing but humbleness, creation and passion expressing out of him, whilst also being very aware of the realism that comes with this career.
“The struggle is deeper than people realise. I think it’s hard to get up every day and fight for your expression because everybody wants to destroy that, whether they think they do or not. Even the people you are closest to. (Incidentally they’re the same people who will then copy you when you have success).
You can easily push through by being a prick to everyone. But it is really hard to realise a singular vision and be nice at the same time. This is what takes all of my energy. The triumph is achieving it and liking yourself at the same time. I am proud of the band, especially Wolfie, my singer. We’ve had a wild ride and we’ve had problems. I think he’s doing so well that people think he should just try to repeat what he is doing now.
But of course, I know that I should keep pushing him and he should keep pushing himself, because he has greatness available to him. He’s traveled so far. I’m also really proud of the venues and agents and audiences that have put their mind into what we are trying to express.
It is not easy to come along with us and it takes a certain type of person. They are the great people, the people who see the world for how it is beyond what the f***ing adverts and politicians and pop stars say it is”.
And boy are we glad that we are able to be graced with such uplifting and detailed music from Hillman and Ephemerals. Bring on album number four! Their latest single “In And Out” was released in December via Jalapeno Records and is available in all good stores and steaming platforms, listen below and purchase it here.
Words by Mia Woloszczynska