In The Middle with William Doyle

Formerly known as East India Youth, William Doyle is returning to Leeds after sometime away, he has a history with the city as he used to be based in York. He is well versed in the gig life here, both his own and his peers’. Our writer Owain Johnson sat down to catch up with him. 

O: So yeah, how are you doing? You okay?

W: Yeah, I’m okay, I have my guitar in my hand actually. I wasn’t going to play you anything, I’m rehearsing for a low-key solo gig tonight, just trying out some new material actually.

O: Oh, lovely.

W: I haven’t told anyone about it really apart from a few friends, I’m not headlining either, I’ve just kind of jumped on a bill. Just need some experience… so yes, I’m good but I’m worried that I can’t remember all the words to my songs (laughter). It will be alright later on.

O: Yeah, I’m sure it will go well. Is that a thing you do often? Like sneak on to a bill?

W: Erm, no but it is something I would like to do more often, I miss playing so easily really. When I was growing up as a teenager I was just playing me and a guitar always now in the band touring this record (Your Wilderness Revisited) there’s six people including myself and lots of cables and stuff. (laughter) It’s hard to get on stage really without it being a logistical nightmare and even before when I was doing East India Youth stuff I still had a fair amount of bells and whistles then. So yeah, it’s nice to just turn up somewhere and plug one thing in and just check the microphone and get away from that.

O: Yeah, definitely.

W: What I’m writing at the moment is much more pared back material, it’s not entirely an acoustic record but it’s certainly sort of turning out that way. It’s nice to get that new material out there.

O: Yeah, it must be good to get a tangible feel of your material’s effect on an audience.

W: Yeah absolutely, because I’ve always really made all my music on the computer, that sort of editing process, I’ve never really tried out new songs live, everything had to be kind of ready before it arrived at an audience, whereas this time I thought it would be nice to grow into the songs a little bit and they do get better. Good songs age with time I think.

William then reveals he is going on tour supporting someone who he is not obliged to publish the identity of. Needless to say, I am very excited about this news and when it is revealed openly I am sure all will join me in this excitement.

I then asked him about his gig at the Headrow on the 19th.

O: Are you still doing solo mastery? When I first saw a clip of you it was on KEXP, you know, suit and all (William Laughs) with the bass and the synth. It’s interesting to hear you are working with a six-piece band.

W: Yeah, just because this record has a lot more live instruments, you know, guitars and the drums so it needs it really for the sound. You know, I’ve already done being a one-man band and I’ve stretched that to the limit I want to you know without strapping cymbals to my knees. This record requires that many people it seems, at least six, perhaps more if we had some more money. (laughter)

O: Have you played there before?

W: I have actually, I played their opening gig there. I remember going and they were still drilling during the sound check (laughter). There was like dust flying about it was like the most distracted sound check ever. I don’t know if I misremembered this but from my memory there wasn’t any running water. It seems mad. My manager had to push his way out of the venue to grab some bottled water from the hotel we were staying at (laughter).

We exchange notes on various venues in Leeds and the best type of music to see at each. We agree that Brudenell is the place for guitar gigs exclusively.

W: It’ll be nice to come back actually, from what I remember there is a really good community up there that London is lacking slightly. 

I then asked him about his creation of textual space on his latest album and how that links with the theme of the work. The album has a freedom at its heart that William experiences performing as himself instead of East India Youth.

O: I feel in the instrumentation and the composition of the album that there is this grand feel to it all. This openness and crafting of another world, was that something you were striving for at the beginning when creating the first music for the album?

W: Yeah definitely, the whole record is about a place, a kind of real and imagined place, you had to feel like you were in that environment. I mean a lot of music does that naturally but I definitely set out to try to do that. I always do as well, I like listening to things that transport you somewhere. I don’t really listen to things that use realism most of the time. The record had to be that open, big space to be in. It’s nice to hear that it worked.

O: Yeah definitely and it’s not just me that thinks that, a lot of people feel that. I got introduced to the album by Ollie from deepcuts who ranked it as his album of the year last year and it’s critically acclaimed as well.

W: Yeah, it’s mad, I’m not used to that YouTube world. Man, I feel old. That’s a huge community out there and I was really happy he had such a good experience with the album. Streaming numbers went up from that community, perhaps I’d put too much faith in the old school ways of getting music out there. I felt old and rejuvenated on the other hand, it was nice to know there are people out there that care about music so much.

O: I think it’s a really good community to have your album put to, a lot less negativity and more open discussion in those comments than other places.

Make sure you come down to Headrow on the 19th for what is bound to be a great night as William returns with a new album, a new name and a new band to his old stomping ground.