SKIES have been making waves underground during 2017 with headline shows of their own, supporting the likes of The Slow Readers Club on their breakthrough tour as well as festival appearances at Dot To Dot and Head For The Hills. They see out the year with the release of their second EP We Fear Change. David Brown caught up with them to find out more about them, get a track-by-track breakdown of the EP, an insight into the Kent music scene and SKIES’ plans for 2018.
Can you introduce yourselves please?
Hi! We’re Alie and Jericho and we are an (here’s our one-liner!) indie-synth-rock-pop-emo-alternative band called SKIES!
How did you get together and settle on the name SKIES? And are the capitals essential?
We met through Jericho’s younger brother Joel, he was the bass player in Alie’s previous band. Jericho joined as synth player for a while and then we decided to form another band, first with session musicians and then as a 2 piece, becoming SKIES. We were trying to find a new band name – we wanted something easy for new fans to spell and remember, we also wanted a name that didn’t make people think too much about anything specific – SKIES seemed to fit the bill, and Joel actually came up with it, we have a lot to thank him for haha! The name really felt right and worked with our big sound. We always write SKIES in capital letters, the logo is in caps and it feels nice and bold, hopefully, like how our music comes across!
Do your songs come from jamming in the studio or does one of you bring an idea in and you work from there?
Alie usually writes the lyrics and basic melody on guitar and then hands it over to Jericho who works on the structure, instruments and production. Sometimes Jericho will suggest a lyric or a new section and sometimes Alie has some suggestions on production so it is very much a 50/50 process. We have a lot of demos so trying to pick which one is next usually takes the longest amount of time, usually there’s a ‘sign’ as to which one we do next, we both just feel it at the same time and then Jericho jumps on it and usually has the song down in a day or two, it’s great to have a lot of music behind us but to also be spontaneous with what we work with next is a great part of the process.
You’ve just released your We Fear Change EP and each track is accompanied by a video. Can you tell us a little about each song and the idea behind the video?
‘Afterwards’ was written about making mistakes you can’t fix. It’s all about regret and how the past can hold on to you and drag you back. We decided to create the music video with this concept in mind. We filmed with Light Tone Studios, we were being dragged along the ground in various locations in Kent and also running away, trying to run from the past but it keeps hunting you down and dragging you back. I think it’s my favourite video so far, but it was so brutal to film as it was minus 3!
This song is about dealing with mortality and religion, and wondering if there’s more to what we are often told in some religious settings. We decided to make the music video really simple and show people that we are a two piece, show them what instruments we play so they know what to expect at a show as we hadn’t done a video like that before. The song was featured on Made in Chelsea which was great as it can also translate well into being a song about a relationship breakdown, as it came across in Made in Chelsea.
‘Green’ is all about being green with envy. It’s a song about being single and watching everyone else around you being happy in relationships and you’re not. The conclusion being, ‘What is so wrong with being alone anyway?’. It’s about being honest with yourself about envy but also dusting yourself off and being happy to be single at the same time. This year the song came to represent us being in an independent band and being proud of what we have achieved as a band – with limited outside support. The video was inspired by generic Valentine’s gifts – flowers, teddy bears, hearts, chocolates and champagne – begrudgingly being eaten or destroyed! The video also features a couple of chickens, a healthy dose of green paint and us each dressing up as each other! Possibly worth a watch! We released it this Summer and it was featured on Spotify’s ‘Summer Indie’ playlist, it was a feel-good tune for the Summer and probably the most ‘pop’ we have gone so far.
This song is about facing illness and the process that entails. I know someone who was diagnosed with a serious illness and sometimes I just need to write about things that affect me. I wanted to just consider someone’s mind frame when being faced with news like that. The whole song for me is represented best by the lyric ‘There’s nowhere to go except ahead, but I feel dead’. There is nowhere to go in a situation like that, except to move forward through it somehow – hopefully with people around you. The video is set in a doctor’s surgery and filmed by Visual Line Video. Cracks appear in the walls and veins grow up our arms, we wanted to create a sense of the world closing in around you in that moment and portray what might be going on in someone’s head while waiting for that kind of news. It was just a way of expressing my thoughts on these people I knew who were going through a serious illness.
As you can see, the EP is quite varied, but perhaps there’s something on the EP for everyone.
You’ve released the EP with Manchester based label Scruff Of The Neck. How did that relationship come about?
We have been working with the SOTN guys for a year or two now after our first show with them in Manchester. They have built something really remarkable and it’s still growing. It’s very exciting to see what they are doing and it has been great to be a part of that this year.
You’re from Kent, a part of the country not normally associated with a thriving music scene. Can you tell us a little about the local scene and venues and recommend any bands we should check out.
There is a really strong BBC Introducing in Kent, fronted by Abbie McCarthy who also works at Radio1 so there’s some good opportunities there for Kent bands. A lot of the venues in Folkestone, where we come from, have changed hands or become restaurants so there is a limited scene in Folkestone, but still quite a lot going on. Canterbury has some good venues too. Tunbridge Wells Forum is a great venue in Kent, it’s definitely on the map when it comes to having a great history of up and coming bands who have gone on to big things, Muse, Coldplay, Biffy Clyro and many more… well worth checking out. A new venue has also just opened up in Dover called ‘The Booking Hall’, it’s already had some incredible bands play so we’d recommend keeping an eye on that place too! A few of our favourite Kent bands have recently come to an end, but there are still some bands well worth checking out – Get Inuit are awesome, The Young Hearts latest EP is sounding really cool too!
This year has been quite a busy one with a number of singles, some big support slots, your own big Thousand Island EP launch in London. What have been the highlights?
Yeah, looking back over the year now I think we’ve just realised that we have achieved more than we thought. It’s hard to notice when you’re working away at the EP all year but we are really happy with this year’s progress looking back. We released 3 singles and 3 videos leading up to the EP release, toured with The Slow Readers Club, sold out our hometown show at the Quarterhouse, supported the Hoosiers and MIYAVI and toured the UK on our own tour. The highlights have to be our hometown show, was such a big moment for us to sell it out, we had such a great time on the SRC tour too. Icing on the cake has to be finally getting the EP out there and the response it has had so far.
And what do you have in the pipeline for 2018?
We are always looking ahead to what’s next and we have a lot in the pipeline. I’m sure there will be some new music at some point next year as we head back into the studio at Hidden Track Studios. We want to go back on tour around the UK and catch up with everyone we have met this year so let us know if you want us to come and play in a town near you and we’ll be there!
Finally, many of our readers won’t have heard of SKIES before. What’s your elevator pitch on why people should listen to you?
Well, if you’ve read this article all the way through and got to this last question, it would be a shame not give at least one track a spin wouldn’t it?! Haha!