Gigslutz caught up with jellyskin after their show at Live At Leeds Festival 2017 to chat about where they’ve come from, where they’re at and where they’re heading. Check out the review of their set here.
The trio met where most students do during Fresher’s Week. “Olly [Neville] and I made contact first,” begins Will Ainsley. “We hit it off over Fat White Family! Then I met Zia [Larty-Healy] in the Stone Roses Bar and romance blossomed.” Within six months, they all decided it was time to form a band.
They were lucky enough to have a practise room in their halls of residence, but their first practise was “pretty DIY” says Olly. “We were in Will’s bedroom, where for a makeshift drum set I was using his guitar case and some water bottles”. Will mutters, “humble beginnings”.
From the offset, jellyskin haven’t been keen on defining one single sound. “We have so many influences, so we don’t have a particular way of doing things,” Zia starts.
“The is a vague sort of spacey sound,” Will adds before Olly jokes. “You can’t fit into a box. We’re taking it as it comes!”
With such an array of influences from The Velvet Underground to The Doors, and from The Horrors to Goldfrapp, they’ve taken a bunch of styles and brought them together as one. “We’ve always said we’re not strictly an electronic band,” Will explains. “We like to draw these little influences, like punk, into it so it makes it not completely one or the other.”
Their DIY outlook has continued since their beginnings nearly a year ago, but they’re keen to keep things “professional”. Will begins: “We have a fairly independent ethos, so don’t really want to sign to a major label and have turned down three for our EP.”
“They all offered us different things,” Zia continues. “We just said we wanted it for ourselves, and wanted to see where that takes us.” Will jumps in: “There’s a time and a place to getting a label and we’ve only been a band for a year.”
They might be going it alone, but they’re still keeping things to the highest standard they can. “We’re putting a lot of work into this EP, like designing the artwork so are doing it ourselves while making it look professional.”
“We’re using good quality CDS and getting it mastered and produced by my mate. We’re doing it alone, but not in a scuzzy punk way,” adds Will.
As jellyskin have developed, so has their writing style with them all contributing their own bits now. “With the first couple of singles, I wrote most of them,” Will says. “That was because I had a lot of songs built up from when I wasn’t in a band.”
Zia continues: “We’ve got a couple that we’ve written together coming up! With the first few [Will] had already recorded some bits, and then when we became a band, we went from there.”
Will and Zia take the lead with the writing now, but drummer Olly still adds his “professional [drumming] set up”. “Will sent me three songs he wanted drums for,” he begins. “My friends is an actual good drummer and has a good drum kit so I went to his house and he recorded it for me.”
This thought into recording material in the best way possible and getting the best sound is the thing that makes jellyskin “fairly professional”. “We want people to say we sound like a really serious band, rather than just some students,” Zia explains.
They aren’t ones to keep things simple, which helps their music seem less amateur. With just the synth and guitar being the band’s only melody instruments, they have to “think about the arrangements a lot so that makes each of the parts quite intricate,” says Will. “If there’s more instruments, you might get a bit lazy”.
Their push for perfection has got them spots on some great line-ups recently, most notably The Moonlandingz sold-out show in Sheffield. “It was probably the most fun we’ve had,” Olly says with a smile. “It was amazing to see how people turned up to see us.” Zia adds: “We actually got a cheer when we walked out as well!”
“It was a nice change,” Will explains. “We had a lot more people at this show than usual as typically it’s around 20-30 but it is building up!” The change from “dingy basements and attics” was a nice change for them but they “don’t want to slam the little guys” emphasises Olly.
The show was their first outside Leeds, which made it even more exciting, and worth the effort even with the challenging trip down. “Getting things through the turnstiles was a struggle,” begins Olly. “We got on the train and there was loads of football thugs there as it was Barnsley versus Sheffield.” Will quickly adds with a laugh: “I must have moved my pedalboard case around 14 times as I was terrified about one of them breaking it!”
Their show at Live At Leeds was also another gigging first, with it being their first ever festival-type show. They were primed ready to be first on at The Wardrobe’s bar, and even stripped back their set to change things up for the day.
“It was interesting reworking the songs to fit a stripped back setting,” says Will. “We’ve only got two melody instruments so we do need a drum kit there still but it was fun!” Zia adds: “I really missed the drums, but I’m glad we did have some as they do fill the songs out a lot more.”
“We’re just so glad we’re able to say we played [Live At Leeds],” Zia continues. “They’ve treated us really nicely as well.” Will jumps in with a laugh: “It’s like a Leeds right of passage!”
“We came for the first time last year, and we had such a fun day even though we didn’t see that many bands. It’s just nice getting to go from venue to venue. You see all the freaks and weirdos walking around out in the open. All the musos!”
The summer won’t stop jellyskin from doing their thing, with Live At Leeds out the way they’ve got more plans to get their name out there. “We’re doing a summer tour,” explains Will. “Well, kind of! There’s a week in June where we’ve got four dates all around the country. We’ll be playing Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Tunbridge Wells.”
In support of the tour, they’re also getting ready to release their EP in time for the kick-off of the dates. This isn’t going to be the end though. In the long term, “we’re just going to keep on doing this,” says Will, before Zia jokes, “it’s not a phase! We’ve always been into music and this is all we want to do to be honest.”
“Last year at Leeds [Festival], I remember thinking this is what I want to do,” Will ends. “We want to play all these festivals and travel the country. We’re not doing it yet, but we’re getting there.”
Photo: Jon Mo