“idylls” are an indie-rock project started by Adam black alongside friends from around the world. Drawing lyrical influences from works by ee cummings, William Carlos Williams, and an eclectic mix of Steve Reich to Peter Gabriel, idylls create magnificent sonic portraits worthy of deeming them the troupe laureate of the (possibly fictitious) nation of Mystopia. To find out more about what makes this group so unique, keep reading!
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I went to a boarding school in Lancashire (NW England) from about the age of 10. Everyone was divided into houses (I don't think by means of a sorting hat, but I honestly couldn't say) and each year we would have house music competitions. I always loved to sing from a young age. My first year in the Upper School, the older guys in my house (Mitre Fleur de Lys) asked if I wanted to play guitar and sing Jimi Hendrix's version of All Along the Watchtower. Bedecked in homemade bellbottoms, pastel shirt and headband we rocked the heck out of that song and won. I don't remember ever feeling really confident in anything before that.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
When I lived in London the Natural History Museum would put on "Night at the Museum." You could walk around and there was wine and music. I got to play at one of these, set in their marvellous foyer, candles laid out on all the steps. In the middle of my set these two guys came out of the seated area and started dancing in front of me on the steps. They were really going for it. It's hard to say if they were intentionally harassing me or just drunk - either is possible really.
What has been the high point of your music path?
Making "carefully out of Nowhere." This is my first record and it's everything I've ever wanted. It's really indescribable the feeling of hearing all these things you heard in your head, move from imagination, to paper scores and then into a sonic reality. I had so many old friends there while were recording - I don't think there was a day where I didn't cry at least a little bit.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
For each song it's a little different but generally I'll start with a little musical idea, then a little lyrics. From there I'll usually finish writing the song completely on one instrument (guitar, piano or banjo) - then start fleshing out the score. I think lyrics are a super important part of music and I love finding words that sound a certain way or might even evoke memories or feelings in themselves before weaving those into the overall piece. It's hard to put it into a formula though, sometimes songs just happen. "every once was looming" I wrote in between calls while I worked at a call centre in Edinburgh.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
That's difficult to answer. I often feel like I have no clue what I'm doing. For some reason Sting's "Englishman in New York" came into my head. I grew up moving and travelling a lot and I learned it's really rude to place your own conventions and expectations on another's culture. Since I'm new to this, I'm trying to treat it like a foreign country. This is how things are and I'll figure it out eventually.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Son Lux. I think Ryan Lott is super inspired and I'm just enamoured with his work. He seems like a super down to earth guy and I could learn a lot from him.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
It's been a while since I've played a live show. We're working on putting that together right now. Almost everyone that played on the album lives in Australia. So it's lately just been Jeremiah (the cellist) and myself who are in the Pacific Northwest (albeit 4 hours drive from one another). But there's usually coffee, maybe a little bit of soju during a practice in the living room.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
"mourning marrow" - I'm reluctant to talk too much about song meaning as I hope others might hear or see different things. For me there is more going on than what you see on the surface level. This song helped me process my depression and shame after hurting someone I cared about. It's come to mean a great deal to me.
What's coming up in the future?
In the next few months I'll be releasing an alternate version of the album entitled "carefully there a strange thing." I've been working with my friend Caleb Buse who plays the Moog Sub37 on the album. It's been super fun to work on - a little bit of 80s synth pop with some 90s dance beats in there. I'm finishing up scores for the next album. Eight of those are finished. There are a few other side projects as well that I have on the go.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
We're on all the normal streaming platforms. The easiest way is to go to www.idylls.net/musik - there are links there to your preferred service. If you want to purchase a vinyl as well, head on over to www.idyllsmusic.bandcamp.com - we still have just over 100 there.