William Doyle has been creating quite a racket recently. Under the moniker of East India Youth he’s been creating some serious noises across the burgeoning electronic scene of his hometown of London, and way beyond. Hailing from Bournemouth, Doyle decided to move to London and has since been in a number of successful musical projects, including the band Doyle and the Fourfathers with whom he toured with The Undertones… twice. But it seems in going it alone, he’s really found his musical voice. Since Doyle began making music as East India Youth he’s managed to snag a deal with the Quietus Phonographic Corporation (the label offshoot from uber-blog The Quietus) who were responsible for East India Youth’s debut release The Hostel EP earlier this year. We caught up with William Doyle to talk about making music as East India Youth, being the first artist to be released by The Quietus and blurring the boundaries between guitar-driven music and electronica.
Let’s take it from the beginning. How did you get started?
I used to be in a band (Doyle and the Fourfathers) which was more of a standard indie pop act. I’d been recording stuff myself at home and as I started listening to more dance and electronic music the East India Youth stuff started to come out. It got to the point where I had a bit more belief in what I was doing in my home recordings. It was more expressive and getting more to the point of what I was trying to do. I finished recording an album and the day I finished that I quit the band. It wasn’t like a secret thing, it was just something I was working on when I wasn’t with the band.
How did you find the transition from playing in a more traditional band to doing what you do now?
It felt quite immediate. I’ve always liked writing songs and arranging them with a band, but I just felt like I was able to take my ideas all the way from the start to the end on my own. I felt like there was more breadth of vision in the music doing it myself. I was able to do whatever I wanted without compromise which really freed me up creatively.
You’re the first signing to The Quietus’s label who released the Hostel EP. How did it all happen?
I met John (Doran) at a Factory Floor gig at around the time I’d finished the album I’d been working on. I had a copy of it with me, just the original mix burned onto a CD. I saw him and just went up to him. I told him I was a huge fan of The Quietus and gave him the CD. I didn’t expect anything to come of it, I didn’t even have a name at that point, I just wanted to give the music to someone who might be able to give an appraisal of it. After that one thing led to another. He got back to me and asked if I had any other stuff he could listen to and we started talking more about the music. He said he really liked it and that it was one of their ambitions at that point to put a record out. They asked me and I happily obliged.
So what’s it like working with them? Obviously it’s a bit different because it’s a label born from a blog so it’s quite a unique set up.
Yeah, we didn’t really know what we were doing to begin with (laughs). But we grew together like that. It took a while to come together but I think it’s all been done so well. They got the mastering done really well so the EP sounds amazing and the packaging looks great. We’re really happy with it. I’ve only ever wanted to work with people I like and I definitely like those guys. It never felt like I was doing the conventional thing by producing a demo then hunting for a record label. I wanted to start the project in a very organic way and I think we’ve done that.
When you play live you’ve got a laptop and effects units but you also play bass guitar and sing as well. Your live set up fuses elements of electronic production and a more traditional live band. Is that something you deliberately wanted to recreate?
I guess it’s in my history because I’ve played in lots of bands. But before I did my first gig as East India Youth I was wondering if the show was going to be interesting enough so maybe I wanted to inject the physicality of being in a guitar group. It’s important the shows are interesting, for me as much as the audience. I mean, each gig seems to be getting better and it’s an interesting place to figure out how things work. I’ve gone back and changed bits of recordings after I’ve done things live so it’s a really nice way of letting the music evolve.
How do you think the music translates from record to a live environment?
I can only really go on what the audience says and I’ve had a lot of positive comments from people, so I think it works. I always try to put a bit more into the live performances, like making sure it sounds as good as possible and I try not to remain stationary when I play. And I can carry all my gear with me, which is a plus (laughs).
Tell me about the forthcoming album.
I’ve just finished the final mix of it and I’m looking for a label to put it out at the moment. I’m talking to a few people and I think it will be out around October/November time. I don’t want to give too much away. From writing the very first song to having the album the way I want it to sound has taken about three years so the newness of the record has gone for me, but everyone that’s heard it so far has been surprised at the mixture between instrumental tracks and vocal tracks and they seem to think it sounds original. I think people who have heard the EP might be a bit surprised.
What musical input did you have whilst making the record?
I was listening to stuff like Brian Eno. I think his music taught me to be patient with the creative process. The way I’m doing things now take a lot longer than just playing and recording a guitar. I’ll find myself listening to a particular part of a track maybe 20 times and making tiny changes. Listening to minimalist stuff like Philip Glass and Steve Reich taught me to be patient and listen carefully to the music rather than go for an immediate sound that perhaps doesn’t have as much texture to it.
There’s a lot of intensity to the songs. It that something that’s come to you by osmosis through listening to that type of music?
Yeah, I don’t know why but I can’t really write jangly pop tunes anymore. There’s always a darker element that comes through.I quite like that.
What’s next for East India Youth?
I’ve got lots of festival dates over the summer like End of the Road, Longitude Festival and Incubate in Holland. It’s going to be busy. After that I’ll be concentrating on the album really. I’m getting the artwork done at the moment so I’ll be getting that finalised. Everything should get mastered over the next few months. I can’t really see past getting the album out at the moment. It’s been pretty hectic over the past year and my life has changed a lot and I think the record reflects that.