INHEAVEN IN LONDON, APRIL 2017. PHOTOS: LAUREN MACCABEE. STYLING: JEANIE ANNAN LEWIN. HAIR: BLAKE HENDERSON USING BUMBLE AND BUMBLE. MAKEUP: POPPY TALLULAH USING MAC COSMETICS. STYLING ASSISTANT: NICO CARMANDAYE.
There are many ways to become a band, as South London four-piece Inheaven proved some three years ago. Back then, founding members Chloe Little and James Taylor, who met at a gig (they were playing in other bands), started making short music videos and posting them online for fun. Soon blogs around the world started picking them up, and eventually Julian Casablancas, frontman of the Strokes, took notice—his label Cult Records produced their first single, “Regeneration.” It was a creative regeneration of sorts for Little and Taylor, who suddenly realized—with Jake Lucas on guitars and Joe Lazarus on drums—they were a real band, albeit one very informed by a DIY sensibility. Little still oversees all of their music videos, as well as album artwork and the zines given out at their concerts.
As for their music, it’s shoegaze-y British punk rock with ’90s American influences: Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and Hole, to name a few. Little and Taylor both lend genuinely powerful voices to already amped up tracks. After several European tours and a slew of EPs, Inheaven is gearing up to release a full-length album this summer. Today, we premiere their newest single and video, “Vultures,” below.
Interview recently Skyped with Taylor and Little to discuss their auspicious beginnings and even more ambitious visions for the future.
MATT MULLEN: Can you tell me a little bit about the origin story of the band? It started with a video, right?
JAMES TAYLOR: Yeah. Me and Chloe used to create these music videos, and we had this anonymous website where we would post videos every week—there was no context or anything. Then blogs started to pick us up. We got on Neon Gold, Noisey, and Enemy. That led to us releasing a single with Cult Records. And then it kicked off from there.
CHLOE LITTLE: At the beginning, the plan was to just have this high output of videos, [which are] a super creative part of our work, and it progressed from there. We got a really good reaction very quickly. So then we thought about it and decided we should probably take some time and develop a good live show and make us into a proper band, rather than just an online project.
MULLEN: Growing up, what were some of the bands you were into?
TAYLOR: My favorite bands were the Clash, the Strokes, and the Cure.
LITTLE: Smashing Pumpkins. Sonic Youth. I loved Rancid when I was a kid. Punk bands, those sorts of things.
MULLEN: How influential have those bands been on your own music?
LITTLE: It’s hard to not be inspired, isn’t it? I think a lot of it comes into our music unconsciously. Some bands are ingrained in your psyche from an early age, and they end up shaping the way you live. We always wanted to be that band for people who listen to us now.
MULLEN: That’s a really powerful concept—shaping someone’s psyche. How can a band do that?
TAYLOR: Obviously the song—a song—is what you fall in love with first, but then I think a band’s ideals and a band’s sense of fashion and a sense of how they treat people is what you fall in love with afterwards.
LITTLE: The world you create around your music feels super important. The bands that I loved growing up, it was everything. Yes, the music is the most important, but everything around them as well.
TAYLOR: When I got into the Clash I realized that a lot of their songs were influenced the Stones and the Beatles, all these classic, British rock bands. So I went back and then listened to those bands—it’s kind of like a cycle of discovery, when you first fall in love with a band.
MULLEN: If you had to describe the world you’re trying to build around Inheaven, what would it be like?
TAYLOR: I think we’d like to teach people to be good to your fellow humans, and to treat people well.
LITTLE: And to also be super artistic and creative. These things are really powerful and they should feel powerful again in mainstream media rather than just considered entertainment.
TAYLOR: I think good music makes you feel free, and if people feel free when they come to a show or listen to our music, that would mean the world to me.
MULLEN: When I think of you, I think of a DIY sensibility, which obviously is a big part of punk—those things have always gone hand-in-hand. But it feels especially important to you guys. You make zines and your own videos; there’s this whole creative, collaborative element in play.
LITTLE: The zines came about because we wanted someone to get something for free every time they came to our show. You don’t have to buy a t-shirt. And the zines are basically a mood board for each phase we’re in. Whenever we put out a new song, the zine—the color scheme, the imagery and everything in it—is based around the song and what inspired the song. It’s our identity.
TAYLOR: I feel like if you let someone else create your vision, then it’s not true to your band. No one can ever do as good as you want, or as good as you can yourself.
LITTLE: We’re definitely not experts in designing artwork or making videos. We just taught ourselves to do it.
MULLEN: Chloe, you studied film, right?
LITTLE: I did at university, but it wasn’t a practical degree, it was like a history degree. And to be honest, the only reason I took that course was so I could live in London and be in a band. However, it definitely came back, especially when we started this and James said, “Oh you’ve got an eye for this stuff.” And I said, “You know, I guess I do know a bit about films.” I love it now.
MULLEN: What kind of directors or other visual inspiration are you pulling from or thinking about when you’re making videos?
LITTLE: I think every single video has been quite different, but of course the name of the band comes from the David Lynch film Eraserhead, so there’s always been that influence. But I like everything from Spielberg to Sofia Coppola.
TAYLOR: With “Vultures” we realized that kids don’t watch more than 30 seconds of anything these days, so there’s actually the same clip repeating every 30 seconds. And then there’s a performance of me and Chloe singing with the band, and we wanted it to be like our own propaganda at the end of the world.
MULLEN: This video feels a lot more political than your others. There’s burning money, photos of presidents, flags…
LITTLE: Reagan’s in there somewhere.
MULLEN: Why did you choose to go in that direction?
LITTLE: We were thinking about how consuming everything—news, politics, especially on your phone—it kind of makes you feel sick, doesn’t it?
TAYLOR: There’s a lot more information at hand and sometimes there’s information overload and we become desensitized to it, so things start to mean less. You’re meant to feel sick when you watch the video.
MULLEN: In a good way?
LITTLE: [laughs] In an artistic way.
MULLEN: In terms of the music, how collaborative is it? Where does it all come from?
TAYLOR: I’m the primary writer of the music, and then with Chloe we try and structure some visual aspects early on so that by the end of the day, we have the artwork for the video and the song all together. And then once we introduce it to Jake and Joe and take it into our live scenario the song gets even better, or changes. It becomes more about the band as opposed to the individual.
LITTLE: That’s what feels most natural to us.
MULLEN: How did you guys meet?
LITTLE: We met at a gig!
TAYLOR: At the Lexington in London.
LITTLE: It’s not a big venue. It’s not very nice. We were both playing in different bands on the same bill.
TAYLOR: We realized we liked all the same music, and same movies. And we didn’t like what we were doing at the time, so we decided to make a change and do something with our lives. It was Chloe who encouraged me to sing. I was just playing guitar, like, shyly in the corner.
LITTLE: Well, it takes you a while, doesn’t it? You want to be creative and you feel like you have all these things to say, but to actually channel them into one project where you feel like, “Yes, this is what I want to do.” I’m happy with everything so far. I think we all are.
MULLEN: The internet has been an important of your development. How immersed in internet culture do you consider yourselves?
LITTLE: We’ve got a love-hate relationship with the internet, I think.
TAYLOR: We wouldn’t exist without the internet. But also you look back on bands of the past, and how much more they probably meant to people because there was a degree of mystery behind them—I think that’s lost in today’s music world. Although something I do love about social media is how you can expand your idea. You can make an extension of your art as opposed to just using it for promotion. We try to make it an extension of our world.
LITTLE: On the other side, it goes back to the “Vultures” video. Like, everything on the internet is so instant and throwaway. If a song is a day old, it’s like, “Oh, I’ve heard that.” I find that quite sad, when people spend a long time working on something and it’s on the internet and then it’s gone.
TAYLOR: Maybe our biggest aim is to bring a sense of that old mystery of rock ‘n’ roll into the new age of today’s instantaneous and fast world.
MULLEN: What’s next?
TAYLOR: Our full-length album is coming out this year. And we’d love to play in America.
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