When Low Island headed out on the road for their first set of headline shows late last year, they decided to do things a little differently. Transforming their inaugural tour into an altogether more collaborative experience, they invited along friends, artists and musicians to contribute to each evening and re-titled the entire thing the ’Low Island & Friends’ tour.
“We all spend just as much time going to other artistic shows as we do going to gigs, so blending these worlds just felt like the right thing for us to do”, the band’s Jamie told us. ”We’re lucky enough to have some great friends making great art, and we just wanted to involve them in our shows”.
For those initial shows - which included two slots at London’s Corsica Studios - DIY joined the band as they went from explaining their roots in their Oxford hometown to witnessing the ‘Low Island & Friends’ concept come to life for their biggest headline show to date. Now you can discover what it was like too in our new on-the-road documentary.
Ahead of the release of their new EP, and the first glimpse of our documentary film, we caught up with Jamie Jay and Carlos Posada from the band, who were in the midst of prepping for their upcoming shows with Gengahr. Watch the documentary below, and check out our chat underneath the player.
Video credit: Ben Ogunbiyi.
Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to conceptualise your shows to include the ‘Low Island & Friends’ element?
Jamie: We all spend just as much time going to other artistic shows as we do going to gigs, so blending these worlds just felt like the right thing for us to do. When you get to do your own headline shows, you’re gifted these great venues for a whole evening, all with their own personalities and different spaces. We wanted to take advantage of that and have fun with it, and showcasing other types of art throughout the night felt like a really exciting way to do that. Another part of the tour was actually collaborating with the other artists where we could, so there were artworks and dance pieces that were made specifically for the gigs. On a simpler level, we’re lucky enough to have some great friends making great art, and we just wanted to involve them in our shows.
How did you go about setting it all up? How did you find the other artists to get involved?
Carlos: The artists we worked with were a mixture of friends, friends of friends and then total strangers who’s work we really admired. We sent over ideas ahead of the shows and then worked on them together in the run up. So in London, for example, we did a two-day workshop with designer Shawn Soh, choreographer Sara Green and four dancers, devising a piece together that was then performed at the two nights in Corsica Studios. Everyone brought a different skill and insight into the room, and it was really interesting to see the piece evolve over the two days. This documentary shows the evolution of the piece really well.
What sort of experience did you want to offer to your fanbase? Why was it important to transform your shows into this?
Jamie: Something that felt fun, fresh and challenging all at the same time. We wanted to do something memorable, not just for the people who came to the shows, but for us as well! It’s a really cool thing to be able to go around the UK and tour all of these different venues, meet new people and engage with new ideas. We wanted to make the most of the opportunity.
In terms of the shows themselves, what were some of your favourite moments and memories from that tour?
Carlos: There were loads of great moments. There was an audience invasion dance piece at Corsica Studios where we’d hired a load of stage rigging so that the dancers could be in the audience but elevated. There was Sarah McWhinney in Glasgow who’d chopped up a load of our songs with live visuals and played cello drones over the top. There were three amazing illustrators in Bristol who made some visual responses to our music. There was our first show abroad at the Apolo in Barcelona. But I think my favourite memory from the tour is the feeling of being grateful to be alive; we played two gigs in Manchester at the end of tour, and at the first one there was an earthing problem in the venue, so my microphone was giving me electric shocks throughout the show.
Is the ‘Low Island & Friends’ touring concept something you hope to continue with? Where do you see it going in the future?
Jamie: Definitely, it’s been a really invigorating project. The fun thing now is thinking about how we can upscale it. We’ve got a show at Scala next month so we’re looking at imaginative ways in which we can use this massive space to showcase different types of art. The sound desk is in this cage in the middle of the room; we asked them if we could put some dancers on top of it. They said no… we’re hoping to hang something massive from the ceiling though.
You’re also releasing a new EP to coincide with the release of the tour documentary. Can you tell us a little about what influenced the creation of this one? What did you want to explore with this EP?
Carlos: This EP was recorded all over the place and over quite a long period of time. Some of it in our garage, some in a house in the middle of Exmoor where there’s nothing for miles, some in Jacob’s mum’s living room, and some in a studio in Hornsey. For that reason, it feels a bit like a collage, not just sonically but also lyrically. There’s songs in there about leaving your younger self behind, drifting apart from people who are close to you and choosing a different life to the one that you have. There’s also songs about fear: fear of the ‘other’ and my own fear that technology is damaging our relationships and how we think about ourselves. That’s why we chose to call the EP ‘This Other Life’; it’s a collection of songs about things that feel out of your control, things that lie ahead and things that you’ve left behind.
Low Island’s new EP ‘This Other Life’ is out now.