Your music has always combined a variety of sounds, what are your main musical influences?
Basically everything, there’s a pretty broad spectrum of music listened to by the band, but by all means not everything. We hate a lot of stuff too and have a very (perhaps beyond) healthy number of arguments about music. I guess a few artists we all appreciate and agree on are Flaming Lips, Neil Young and Radiohead. We get really inspired by old and weird pieces of musical equipment or just things that make noises too. There’s a lot of sampling rusty Chinese bowls or recording something’s dying swan song as it’s batteries run out then turning it into a keyboard instrument or running it through a modular synth.
How would you describe your band dynamic?
Things come together in every different way possible, we have no set formula or anything like that, it’s just a big mess really. Maybe we’d sound more cohesive if we had a formula, but then maybe sounding incohesive is our sound?
Your multifaceted sound seemed to solidify by the time you released your 2016 EP, Everything is Yellow and Yellow is My Least Favourite Colour. The musical constructions and build-ups you create feel effortless. Can you talk me through how you approach structuring your songs?
We find the best build ups generally come from when you’re playing together in the practice room and people start getting excited and it gets louder and louder and it builds up organically. I guess there’s a fair amount of thought that goes into the structure of the song, the usual main battle is between getting all the bits you like in and making it short enough to get played on the radio.
Alaska is a popular standout in your body of work. How do you manage to integrate such strong narratives into your sound?
I feel like sometimes you’re just trying to create an opportunity for the listener to create their own narrative. Kinda like how a lot of great paintings are blurry or washy and this can give a feeling so much stronger and emotive than a crystal sharp photograph. I think this is because our minds are so good at filling in the gaps and in doing so naturally make the narrative into something more relatable on a personal level.
"I feel like sometimes you’re just trying to create an opportunity for the listener to create their own narrative. Kinda like how a lot of great paintings are blurry or washy and this can give a feeling so much stronger and emotive than a crystal sharp photograph."
I read that you built your own studio space and self-sufficiently produced your first LP for Suddenly Everyone Explodes. Do you feel like independence and space has an important role to play in the process of your making music?
Yeh for sure, maybe if we didn’t have our own space we’d be more organised and onto album 4 by now haha! But it definitely has its benefits, it’s great to be able to create sounds in the writing process which then inspire you to write in a certain way and also just work on it whenever you want. We’ve built a lot of gear over the years which we try and use as much as possible too as I think it helps give us an aesthetic. Jamie’s the main techno wizard and designed a guitar effect pedal last year under the name Neon Egg, he’s doing really well with them now and has people like Hot Chip, Arcade Fire and Liam Gallagher using them. Hopefully we can wangle a support tour one day!
What are the main ideas you want to get across through your music?
I feel the main ideas we want to get across through our music is to try to evoke some sort of emotion from people, the music I enjoy the most are tracks that make you feel a certain way or remind you of a particular time. The best music makes people dance or cry or occasionally both! So I guess thats the end goal and what we attempt to convey, haha.
"the music I enjoy the most are tracks that make you feel a certain way or remind you of a particular time. The best music makes people dance or cry or occasionally both!"
A song fuelled with powerful messages is Yoyo. You use spoken segments with strong visual imagery, which gives off a profound effect. What inspired this song and the words behind it?
The spoken word sections of Yoyo were based on something I wrote a while before it had any plan of being a song. Basically mine and Jamie’s mum was dying from cancer at the time so I spent a lot of time thinking about life and death, what it meant to be alive and looking for some sense of afterlife but in a completely atheist way. Then came up with the musical idea and knew that I wanted a talky vocal and it all just fell together.
How have you creatively responded to such a momentous and uncertain period of time? What should we expect from Plastic Mermaids in the future?
I guess in the current climate like most people in the industry we have tried to quickly adapt, we’ve been doing a few of these live stream gigs which has certainly been an interesting experience. Playing different versions of our songs trying new arrangements for just a couple of the band (Doug and Chris live together). We are kind of mid recording our 2nd album, which has been strange due to lockdown as we can’t all be together. That is what you can expect next really, finishing the record then release and tour when we can!