Back in September, we featured wood ewe’s brilliant single ‘I Love You Too, Disembodied Voice’, the eponymous track taken from their equally brilliant EP which is out this coming Friday. Woooo! It was my pleasure to have a chat with wood ewe, aka Iain Henderson, about their musical identity, early influences, and trusting your instincts. Enjoy.
Hey wood ewe, how’s it going? Not too bad thanks! Doing my best to navigate the challenges of releasing music in 2020 but otherwise just trying to stay as busy as possible!
Congrats on the new EP! What can you tell us about it? Thanks so much! All of the tracks except ‘U-209’ were written and mostly recorded in 2019 so it was entirely coincidental that it became incredibly relevant to the events of this year, I swear! I started working on it pretty soon after the release of the Wood Ewe EP, at which point I had some clear goals of what I wanted in new tracks. I took the opportunity to really work on my songwriting and further combine my sound with more pop elements, some catchier hooks and just ensure that everything felt more finished. If the debut was an exercise in immediacy, I suppose I Love You Too, Disembodied Voice is its more meditative counterpart.
You have such a unique musical identity – have you always known what sort of sound you wanted to master or has this developed over time? I started with some really clear inspirations: Animal Collective, of Montreal, The Veils’ Total Depravity, among a lot of others. If anything it’s often been a question of ‘how do I sound more like me?’. Early on I felt like I was always being pulled between what I wanted to sound like and what felt natural to write! I would often scrap ideas because they weren’t the “sound” I thought I wanted originally. With this release and a couple tracks I’ve written since I think I’ve learned to trust my instincts a bit more and just let ideas flow when they do come, and if that connects with people then I’ll be happy. This release has been equal parts freeing and stressful having done everything on it, even the mixing and mastering, but that’s something I’m grateful for, particularly on tracks like ‘U-209’ where the production was so important to capturing the feel I was going for.
On the EP, you touch on themes of isolation, the need for connection, and relationships in the digital age. Has the pandemic exemplified the sorts of feelings you express on the record? Oh god, definitely! I’m definitely a homebody but not having the option to see people definitely makes things harder. While I think a lot of the themes are just from experiences or general feelings, and would be there pandemic or no pandemic, the removal of choice has multiplied them by a factor of ten.
Where do you draw inspiration from to aid your artistic process? That’s always a difficult question! While I would say that I do take a lot of inspiration from experience I think I often trust my senses to give me ideas, particularly for the music, whether that’s being inspired by an image (‘Mountain Goat’ coming from the visual of goats somehow perched on impossibly steep cliff sides), a sound (the low hum of extended bus journeys on ‘Commuter’ and the sonar elements of ‘U-209’) or even a smell (looking back on the Wood Ewe EP, ‘Bonfire March’ was inspired by the smell of smoke looming over Manchester for a number of days after a fire just north)! I’ve always got a handheld recorder on my person as well in case I hear something interesting.
What songs have you had on repeat at the moment? To pick a couple, ‘Flagey God’ by Bartees Strange, ‘Don’t Be So Serious’ by Low Roar and ‘Like an Obligation’ by Shintaro Sakamoto.
Finally, if you could close out the interview with one final thought, what would it be? For me, making music is incredibly cathartic. There being people out there who can connect with it and choose to take time out of their days to listen is more than I could ever ask for. Also Jess is a legend, thanks so much for letting me ramble!
I Love You Too, Disembodied Voice is out on Friday 20th November and can be presaved on Spotify here.