Towards the start of 2020, PVA’s Ella Harris, Josh Baxter and Louis Satchwell were mid-performance at their SXSW fundraiser when the festival announced its forced cancellation. It marked a sudden end to a wave of early success that had already seen the trio team up with Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey for debut track ‘Divine Intervention’, and that foresaw a trip to Japan and a number of breakthrough festival appearances on the cards for the second half of the year. Thriving in a live environment, their unconventional marriage of techno-heavy electronics and post-punk melodies no longer had a stage.
“There were a lot of disappointments, but everyone has had those,” Ella says now, looking back on the uncertain time. “You have to take positives where you can, and maybe it was a blessing in disguise.” For, despite taking away the trio’s opportunity to perform live, the UK’s lockdown did provide PVA with the unexpected luxury of time. “I wasn’t taking any time for myself,” Ella admits, “and having this time I just felt more creative.”
That creativity has flourished, leading to the release of last month’s debut EP ‘Toner’: a collection of PVA’s most avant-garde euphoria, with a handful of big-name remixes to match. The result of a vast period of experimentation, pulling together their live band roots with new technologies, it’s their most assured sound yet. “I’m so proud of the package we’ve been able to create,” Josh celebrates. “It feels like a statement we’re all happy to put out. It’s an honest reflection of who we are.”
“Are we a band or are we dance music? Are we both or are we neither?”
— Josh Baxter
Born out of South London’s live scene, but with a drive to transform the hedonism of electronic music for the stage, PVA tread the line between the two with unique style. “It’s a constant conversation that we are having within music,” Josh says. “Are we a band or are we dance music? Are we both or are we neither?” While at the start of the year their approach was more band-centric, things have changed.
“We rehearse together and build it from scratch,” Louis explains. “With lockdown, our mentality is more focused on repetition, patience, tension and release.” Building their electronic crescendos from uninhibited live rehearsals, their primary focus is on generating an exhilarating collective atmosphere. “We’re constantly surprising ourselves with what we can do,” Ella agrees. “It feels like we aren’t playing within a limit; we’re constantly expanding and evolving.”
Dedicating their time to the intricate art of bringing club highs to the live stage, the result is nothing short of exhilarating. PVA’s approach adds a notable depth to their unique take on electronic music, underpinned by their limitless attitude and unbreakable passion. Preparing to begin work on their full-length debut and itching to return to the stage, the trio are reinvigorated and ready. “You know when you go to a party and you know your ex is going to be there so you’ve got a really cool outfit on?” Ella grins. “Well, we’ve got that feeling of, ‘I look so good, I’ve glowed up’.”
As featured in the December 2020 / January 2021 issue of DIY, out now.