Andrew and William from Inkhouse tell us why they prefer to record at home and playing live is the least of their worries.
By Bella Esquivel
The future is now. Inkhouse was born in a sonic landscape where the arms of neo-folk, rock, dance and R&B merge in the sea of pop. Many emerging bands want to fight the process of conventional production by major labels because these more and more consistently do safe bets. And safe bets mean low risk. Originality is often risky. Like, a lot.
Young musicians are bred in this rare musical environment that the over 30s never imagined. It is not about gigs and landing a record deal anymore; it is about being a finished product companies can invest in. It’s about your platform and followers. It’s Soundcloud, Twitter, EP, Facebook. And everyone is doing it. Music is omnipresent and is so much everywhere that it sometimes escapes us.
In this fiercely competitive industry, this band of friends stand in the hope that old pre-conceptions of right and wrong won’t suppress their worship to different Gods. They love dissimilar genres and want to marry them to create something new. You will find folk, hip-hop, DIY and bucket-loads of reverb in their altar. They reject all labels and can’t be boxed. Oh Lord.
The Inkhouse five, namely Andrew James (vocals, guitar, and words), Laurence Kelly (guitar), Sabiyha Rasheed (vocals) and William Jones (programming, mixing) are from London, but now divided between London and Southampton for a reason. Andrew and William are both 20. Young and curious, the duo decided to take their experiments further away of the bedroom they’ve been working in, into a complete different environment that hopefully will provide them of the more stimulating and creative environment: university.
Queuing for a cup of coffee that seems to be the more of a Holy Grail at this time in the afternoon, students’ weary eyes reveal they may have had too much fun the night before.
Sat down in a corner, a very young Andrew and William wait amongst the noise, the rushing and the smell of pain au chocolat. Andrew gives us a nervous smile. His big black glasses seem to hide a bigger personality that will emerge later in the interview. William looks more urban and chilled, only adding to the conversation when relevant.
Andrew apologizes and explains that the rest of the guys still live in London and can’t make it to the interview.
Conversation fires up and soon the name of the band comes up in a question mark. ‘One day we were sat down with Sabiyha and Lawrence, and at the time we only did acoustic songs, and we had this list of different cool words written on paper and we decided to just try a few and put them together to create a new word and Inkhouse came up’, says Andrew.
After Inkhouse was born, the five guys started to record their First EP in Andrew’s bedroom in Croydon. Andrew says, “we started in 2011, so it has taken us quite a while to finish it. It is just that it is such a big, weird sound that it took us ages to actually achieve the sound we wanted. We will figure out how to play it live later”. The times of ‘record it like live to play it live’ are truly, truly gone.
Andrew and William confess to enjoy the process of writing music in their bedrooms, “even if we want and will record the EP in the studio to see how the tracks sound with a more finished, polished sound, we still love the bedroom aspect”, says William, programmer and latest addition to the band.
William was handed a track to mix, but he didn’t only do that. “I’m very much into hip-hop so I love programming drums. I heard Bones (one of the singles) when we were in college and asked Andrew if it would be ok for me to have a go at mixing it. He said yes, but I didn’t only mix it, I added some drums as well and did a few things with it. Andrew was wowed and asked me if I could do the same thing with the other songs’ says William laughing. And that’s hoe he became a permanent member of the band.
The result is a hybrid of epic melodies, heartfelt lyrics, harmonies in the right places and a sound a lot more mature than their chronological age. In high contrast with the music that has come out of Croydon, like dubstep and some good grime, the guys confess they may have been influenced by the sound. Andrew mentions it still is a big thing in Croydon and adds “ we started going to a pub and they played dubstep all night. It was a moody kind of place. We were writing happy songs at the time, and although we didn’t take on the dubstep sound we did start writing moodier songs”.
The self-titled EP consists of four tracks. The Long Way Around and Bones are dreamy and atmospheric. There is use and abuse of reverb, mellow vocals, harmonies, and some oriental like chanting, all mixed in a very current sound.
The track Nephews is what the band considers the ‘hit’ and it is quirkier than the others, emphasizing the guitar riff and repetitive hooks. Originally dedicated to an alcoholic drink and the waste of youth and good health.
Finally, Too Easy is a stripped down guitar ballad. The words, to which they confess to pay special attention to, sail through a sea of beautiful muffled sounds being delivered with honesty and understated elegance.
These guys are young and ambitious and put the things that matter first. “ I can see sometimes people are so laid back…I’m used to having to push forward to get anywhere. They won’t get anything like that”, says Andrew.
Hard work is something this band is willing to do for the sake of pure satisfaction at a job well done. They’re unsigned. Not for too long.