East India Youth | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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East India Youth

Consistently, Pleasingly Erratic

Mar 06, 2015 East India Youth Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Bookmark and Share

“Maybe we should get a shot of you stood next to that, looking sad?” I jokingly suggest as William Doyle, aka East India Youth, and I spot a poster advertising Mercury Music Prize winners Young Fathers on the door of London’s Rough Trade East record store. Weeks earlier, the British hip-hop collective had beaten Doyle’s debut album Total Strife Forever to one of Britain’s most prestigious music awards, but he’s far from disappointed. “I don’t believe in the curse of the prize,” he says, “but it does mean that whatever you do afterwards, people will be comparing it. I’d feel like I’d hit the high watermark early in my career and I’m not sure if that’s healthy for young artists. You need to nurture the project, let it grow. Then again, if we were sat here discussing winning, I’d probably say it was great!”

2014 has been “a lot of fun” for the London-based 23-year-old, who has enjoyed a startling rise from a small-town beginning in Bournemouth on Britain’s south coast to the likes of the Mercury and playing the Glastonbury festival. “The reviews came in and people were latching on to [the album], which was a surprise, because I still think of it as quite an obscure-sounding record. It’s not a pop record, and the idea that I’d get spoken about in the same breath as a pop record, like FKA twigs or something, is crazy.”

Mention of the album’s outstanding reviewsits score of 81/100 on Metacritic is defined as “universal acclaim” by the reviews aggregator—leads to a discussion of the “established” media’s coverage of East India Youth’s area of work. The album moves seamlessly between glitchy dance tracks and electronic compositions that are reminiscent of Philip Glass or Jean Michel Jarre, while impressively remaining welcoming. Doyle feels that electronic music has become more accessible, yet still the general music press only seem able to discuss it in broad terms. “[Electronic music] has a history and it’s become more available,” Doyle says. “[It’s not] this weird niche thing. People are educated enough to write and read about it in an intelligent way. I read a lot in the broadsheet newspapers and think, ‘Are you not ready to talk about it yet?’”

The increased availability of genres traditionally considered outside of the mainstream can, however, bring about difficulties for young musicians, he believes. “Trying to have a unique sensibility or look is quite hard because there’s so much coverage of all types of music now. There are so many magazines and websites…and everyone’s got a fucking YouTube channel. To try and rise above that sea of stuff is difficult.”

Total Strife Forever certainly has risen above the sea: apart from the Mercury nomination, the album achieved Top 10 positions on the U.K. indie and U.K. vinyl charts, there were numerous festival appearances across Europe, a first tour of the U.S., and his biggest ever show in front of 5,000 people, supporting Wild Beasts at London’s Brixton Academy. But Doyle is now looking to move forward and has already finished the second East India Youth album, Culture of Volume, due for release in April via his new label XL Recordings. “It’s a bit more pop-leaning,” he says. “There are more vocals, but it still flits between different styles. I thought about honing in on one aspect of the sound, but I realized that sort of erratic behaviour is part of me.”

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar’s January/February 2015 print issue (Issue 52/Best of 2014).]



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