Whitelands Interview

todayFebruary 17, 2024 50

share close

Interview with
Etienne from Whitelands

By Danielle Hennes

Danielle interviewed Etienne, lead guitarist and vocalist from Whitelands ahead of their tour with Slowdive.  Audio and transcript are below. 

  • Chart track


    Whitelands Interview with Danielle Hennes


    • cover play_arrow

      Whitelands Interview with Danielle Hennes Whitelands

Interview – Whitelands

Danielle: Hey, everyone. This is Danielle with Big Sonic Kevin Radio. I’m here today with Etienne from the band White Lance. Thank you so much for being here. How are you?

Etienne: Anytime. I’m just really glad to be here and super excited about this interview and just, you know, give away some secrets about the album.

Danielle: Awesome. I’m excited too. So, I’m just talking with you today, but tell me a little bit about who else is in the band and how you guys got started.

Etienne: So in the band at the moment, we have 4 members. there’s me, Etienne. There’s the second member, Jagun, who’s the drummer. There’s Vanessa, who is our bassist, and our final member that we got very recently, but we knew him for a number of years, Michael. And the band started it was just me when it started about in about 2017, and it was, like, late 2017, November, December.

Etienne: And I did, like, a small folk album. And it was just me recording alone in my bedroom for a while. And I got in touch with Jagun around some point through a friend and said we should make some music together, but we we didn’t actually release anything together for a while. It was just me recording, but we were digging together. And I think around 2018 or so, we’ve recorded, like, our first song properly together.

Etienne: And since then, how should I say, we got Vanessa saw us, I think. And she got very sorry for us, I think, because we were just 2 guys just in a band playing by ourselves. It was just sounding very empty, so she decides to volunteer to be our bassist for a while, and we just haven’t let her go since. I think that was about 2019. And then Michael was playing another band for a little while.

Etienne: I think he was leaving the band that he was playing with at that time. And I knew Michael since I was 18 as well. I was just like, hey, Michael. Why don’t you just join our band? We kind of, you know, need a lead guitarist, then we’ll just make some songs together. And we we eventually managed to convince him, and he just been with us since. He’s just been recording on the OLA singles too.

Danielle: Nice. Right. Right on.

Danielle: So your first EP came out in 2018. That was the 1 that was called old old news. Right?

Etienne: Yeah. And it’s 4 songs.

Danielle: It’s, like, 9 minutes long. And it’s it’s categorized on Apple Music as contemporary folk, which is kinda different from your current sound, but, like, it’s it’s really quite lovely and, like, nostalgic sound to it. tell me a little bit about where you were at that point in your life. Like, I know you were 18. Like, what was influencing your writing at that at that time in your life?

Etienne: At that point in my life, I was listening to a lot of Bon Iver, and I think I would try to pronounce it right. I think it’s Bon Iver or something, like because I I can’t remember if it’s French or not. don’t quote me on that.  But, yeah, I was listening to a lot of him, a lot of local natives. At the time, I was just playing this video game that came out, Life is Strange, and it had a lot of kind of folky, acoustic, kind of that indie revival, folky sound around that time, and I was just listening to a lot of music like that.

Etienne: So there was a lot of Syd Matters. Who else? God. I can’t remember most of these names. And, yeah, I was only was learning guitar.

Etienne: Like, I picked up the guitar that month or so. So, yeah, I wasn’t that great, honestly, but I I was just working with what I had at that point. And, yeah, that’s where kinda my head was at. It was very, like, melancholy kind of slow downtempo songs.

Danielle: Yeah.

Danielle: There’s some about it that’s, like, really nostalgic, and it kinda, like, makes me feel like I’m living some lost memory. Do you still play those songs in your current set list?

Etienne: No. I don’t think we’ve played a single 1 of those songs live, like, ever. I think maybe once, but we just don’t have a reason to, like, play those.

Etienne: It it’s kind of like just like a solo project kind of thing. Like, kind of just my first entry into music. You know? So I I feel like I don’t really look to those songs that fondly because I feel like, wow. I could have done this better.

Etienne: I could have done this better. And our sound has changed so much and our audience too, so it just feels like there’s not really much point in playing it, honestly.

Danielle: Gotcha. Okay. I really love that song Empire, though. I have to say it’s kinda it, like, sticks in my head. I and it’s it’s I sing it all the time to myself.

Etienne: So Thank you so much. Maybe 1 day we’ll play it live acoustically.

Danielle: I mean, I know it’s different from your sound now and and when I went back and was listening to like your, like, your whole catalog, I was like, well, this is really different, but it’s still really catchy. I don’t know if you should, like, not like it so much because it’s a really cool song.

Etienne: No. I completely get you. It’s a problem that happens with the the band. Everyone says that, like, I hate all the old songs, and we never play it. So the band, they never kind of get attached to songs too quickly because I’ll be like, hey. I’m the 1 that will play that song again live. 

Danielle: Yeah. Maybe they would like, years down the line when you’re really famous, you’ll be able to tell who your true fans are when they know that song.

Etienne: Thank you so much. Hopefully, we’re still around in all those future years’ time. You know?

Danielle: So later that same year, you ended up releasing your first full length album.

Danielle: It was self self titled. Right?

Etienne: Right.

Danielle: And then your sound changes a little bit there. You you got a little bit more of the shoegaze sound. Did you guys record and release that album yourself?

Etienne: Yeah. That, again, was just me except for the first song on there, something else. That was recorded with Jagun on drums, main guitar, and someone else who used to be in a band, a bassist called Ed Coma. But that was also a long while ago.

Etienne: And the rest of the album was just recorded just in my bedroom again.

Danielle: Oh, wow.

Etienne: And, yeah, I think our song the sound was quite changing there. I was, like, getting more into kind of Midwest emo. Like, I love American football. I think some Citizen as well. And I was kind of hopping onto that kind of, like, indie rock kind of wave. I was listening to a lot more heavier artists like Mastodon, I think, too. It was absolutely years ago. Like, I’m nearly 24 now, and it’s actually weird talking about because, like, I haven’t thought about these songs in, like, 6 years or so. Bringing them up from the past. Yeah.

Danielle: On that album I really liked Me I My and there’s kind of a lot going on with that song. It kind of takes you through like all these different, sounds like in a good way. Like tell me about some of the things that maybe influenced the sound of that song.

Etienne: Yeah. There was this song. Oh, god. My head is like I think it was a song by Syd Matters. It was like, to all of you. I think that was a song title, actually, To All of You. It sounds exactly like that song. I think that was an accident. Because I, like, subconsciously, I think I was just, like, I as well was still, like, getting into songwriting, so it’s kind of, like, the fifth song I ever wrote. And I think a lot of times that happens when you’re starting out with new songs. You kind of, like, write a song that sounds exactly like another song. But 1 thing I like about with writing music is having lots of textures and layers and lots of rhythms going on. Like, with the newer songs like the prophet and now, you can tell it has, like, an Amen break going on, and the guitars are still quite very jangly. They have all the delays, and it’s kind of trying to, like, fit into his own pocket there. Because I kind of like how it fills it up. You can hear a lot of, like, syncopation with that, with a lot of, like, West African music or Brazilian music or just dance music. Just lots of rhythms just going on at once, and it kinda just builds up a very nice texture. Mhmm. I love, like, older Slowdive records, how they have all those delays just going on as well.It’s just like it’s somehow just really like like what’s the song? Like, Star Roving? Yeah. It has, like, guitar. It’s kind of, like, just off with the beats of the delay, and it just sits very nicely once Simon comes in with his drums and bass and everything.

Danielle: Yeah. They have a way about composing their songs that it just, I don’t know what they do with some like voodoo magic. And honestly, I feel like every good shoegaze band has, like, some magic formula that they do. And it and it it builds up into this, like, crescendo that just, like, can give you chills on an 80 degree day in the summer.

Etienne: So if it’s okay with you, I’d like to play that song, Me My I and let our listeners take a listen to it. So from their 2018 self titled full length release, here’s Whitelands with Me I My.

Danielle: Okay. And so in researching for this interview, I came across an article, I think from Clash magazine. Were you and the guys from your band sat down with Rudy Tambula from A.R. Kane?

Etienne: Right. Yeah. 

Danielle: A.R. Kane, for people who may not know, is credited with inventing the term dream pop to describe their music, they’re kind of considered pioneers of that dream pop genre. And I know that Rudy, did a couple of remixes of your 2023 single Setting Sun. How did you end up hooking up with him, and what was it like working with him?

Etienne: It was really interesting. And for the life of me, I cannot remember how that happened. I can’t I think maybe it was the belt. They’re another band in the US, like, you know, shoegaze, way ahead of their time. Yeah. And I know. I think they hit us up sometime. A few years before, we got quoted on this Brazilian magazine, I think, like a little blog, and it’s described us as soul gaze and they brought in The Veill as well in the same time. And they found us on Instagram, and we got chatting. And then, like, hey. Have you guys heard about A.R. Kane?You know, Rudy lives in London. And we’re like, oh, so do we. Like, that’s crazy because we had no idea, like, you know, Rudy was just about. And I think at some point, we both got points and emails together. And then, Nat, our Sonic Cathedral, like, the head of our label, I think he had a contact with Nat as well. And then I think we just suggested the idea. It’s like, hey. Why don’t we put, like, you know, like, a remix kind of, like, low tape, you know, just between songs, you know, just to get some merch flowing and just give some people things to have. And we’re thinking, like, it’d be really awesome to have someone just as important and just so pivotal for the shoegaze and dream pop scene to be able to, you know, get his hands on that. It would be such a big honor. So we hit him up, and we just got to working on that song. And he had an idea for it immediately when he was working with the bass line, I remember.

Danielle: I saw that article too where they had sort of, came up with that soul gaze term for your band, and I thought that was perfect. You know? There’s, some of the harmonizing that goes on in your vocals. I thought that really described it really well.

Etienne: Thank you.

Danielle:In that article, that Clash article with you and you guys and Rudy, you and your bandmates and Rudy were talking about what it’s like to be people of color in a genre that’s predominantly not people of color. And I wonder if you’d like to talk at all about, how do you feel about being a representative of people of color in this genre? Is that something that you kind of carry with you at the forefront, or is it more like you just wanna be a human making music? I mean, do you do think about it?

Etienne: It’s 1 of those things where I’m sure a lot of people, like, this like, in general to say, like, I’m sure a lot of people like, with a genre that is so, like, predominantly why there’s not a lot of representation, and I’m sure, like, a lot of people understand that. And it’s something we will have to carry very proudly that we are also representing, you know, as another person of like, to be a person of color in this scene, you have loads of people like The Veil, A.R. Kane, Miki from Lush and, like, even with the Drop Nineteens and Swerve Driver, there’s, like, a lot of people of color, but there’s also very little of it. And it’s something that like, I get lots of messages as well from random like, a lot of people, and they’re so thankful that there’s a band like us in the scene because it’s just rare for people to even get any total representation.Like, loads of people from Brazil are hitting us up. It’s just like, woah, dude. We never see that. It’s like, it’s so crazy, and we’re so happy for it. Just to be able to see that. And, like, I hear out here in a lot of countries in, like, South America that there’s not that much representation even in TV. So with any genre, like, shoegaze and dream pop, it must be something that’s even more you know Yeah. It’s like this crazy scene. And, like, I appreciate seeing people of color as well in just media and books and TV. Like, even new video games that are coming out, I see [00:14:00] a black character. I get excited because I feel like, wow. I never see that in fantasy or anything like that. So it’s something that’s like, we’re more than happy to just be able to be that beacon for people.

Danielle: Yeah. I think it’s really important too, like, for other for younger people of color to see themselves represented in in a genre that, you know, maybe they maybe they shy away from expressing their their their like their likeness for it, you know, because it’s not traditionally black music. You know what I’m saying?

Etienne: Right. I hear you.

Danielle: Great.

Danielle: So a couple weeks ago, I’m sitting on my couch and I’m scrolling through social media, and I see this slow dive post that says, we’re pleased to announce, we’re we have Whitelands joining us as special guest on our 2024 UK tour. And I go here and I put Whitelands in the search bar and the first thing that comes up is Born and Understanding. And I click on it and just like little side note, like I just got this huge TV and it’s hooked up to this great sound system and so it’s kinda larger than life and and the video for that song is kind of got like this underground or like underwater feel to it. Yeah. Watching the video and the music is playing and it’s like all of a sudden I’m swimming in this amazing song and it’s just I I love it. Tell me what went through your head when you found out that you were gonna be touring with Slowdive through February.

Etienne: It it it’s it’s crazy. It’s it I don’t know how to describe it still. It’s like something that feels feels unreal. And I remember, like, talking to Simon about it because he masters a few of our songs. And I just asked him about because when Slow Down started, they were quite young themselves. And just asking him, it was like, you know, like, how does it feel, like, you [00:16:00] know, playing all these big venues, all these giant stages? Doesn’t it feel scary? And he was just like it just feels so real. That’s what like, what he said to you, he said, like, it feels so real and so immediate every time you’re just doing things like that. And I didn’t quite understand what he meant till, like, a lot later on when we start getting these, like, so much media attention. It really takes you out of it. But, you know, with us, like, everyone in the band, we’re all working class in the UK. We’re all just going to jobs and stuff like that. So it’s a lot of flip flopping between being you’re the artist of the week, in BBC 6, you know, like a radio station, you’re hearing your music for the first time. I’m going to be playing at venues I worked at as a bar back or, like, just like a security guard or something. And it’s just you don’t really have time to be alive in that moment. It’s just like you’re just swapping between night and day, so it’s Jekyll Hyde thing. It’s I guess, to push for it, it’s quite scary.

Danielle: Aw. What a trip. Well, I know don’t know you like, I like other people just messaged you on Instagram, and I was so happy for you. I’m like, congratulations on landing the Slowdive gig like I knew you right? Yeah.

Etienne: Thank you so much, though. I do appreciate it. And and it made us so happy reading that, honestly.

Danielle: Yeah. Well, it’s a big deal, I feel. Like, you know, like, if if there’s such an influence on you musically and then to be, like, tour support, it’s just gotta be such, a stamp of approval. You know?

Etienne: Yeah. Honestly, it really is. But it’s also now it’s like we have to impress our, you know, our heroes because it feels like I skipped like it it feels like there’s a part of me that’s like, oh my god. Am I ready? Like, am I skipping some steps? But we’ve been a band for, like, about 6, 7 years now, so it’s just like you know, it’s like, it’s gonna happen. It’s this thing of, like, making ourselves ready and making sure we’re able to do this. And I think we definitely are. But, you know, we wanna impress the band too, of course, like, and the audience. But I think it’s very obvious that we’re, like, fans of the bands, and it feels like we just got pulled up for the from the audience to perform. You know? Like, how they’re, like, singing with your favorite artists is so scary.

Danielle: Well, let’s take a listen to my favorite song, Born and Understanding. So here is Born and Understanding

Danielle: So speaking of touring, with Slowdive, putting music out and touring in general is not cheap and it comes with a price tag. So, we know that you guys aren’t necessarily making a living off Spotify streams. So where can our listeners buy your music and merchandise?

Etienne: Definitely from shows or from Bandcamp. That is the best places to get them. With something like shows, you can get to meet us. We can sign your records. And, hopefully, we’ll be able to, you know, get some extra tips or whatever. But we’ll be trying to make more merch along the way to just give people more stuff to have because we do care about just having some physical things for people to, like, own. It’s a lot better than digital.

Danielle: Mhmm. Yeah. Like, last week, I think we’ve you posted something about band camp Friday, and the bands get more money on those particular Fridays. How often does that happen?

Etienne: It happens every month. I think about the either the first or the second Friday of every month, I I’ll have to double check, but we’ll probably make an announcement. And these next months coming up are gonna be the most important Bandcamp Friday, so please definitely do not miss those.

Danielle: Yeah. That that’s good to know. Because I I didn’t realize that they had band camp Fridays where more of the proceeds would go directly to the band. So I think that’s important for us to know.

Etienne: Absolutely.

Danielle: So along comes, like, 2023, and I noticed that you’ve released some singles since you’ve been with Sonic Cathedral. Alright. Is that part of, like, a new album that’s coming out?

Etienne: Yes. That album will be out very, very early next year, maybe even maybe over the tour. But it would be absolutely great, just to see people just streaming it and just supporting it. Like, for the vinyl, we managed to get number 3 on the UK charts for the remixes. And, also, just having something like our own official release hit the charts would be something so, so amazing.

Danielle: What dates specifically are you touring with Slowdive?

Etienne: Oh, we’re touring with Slowdive from the 16th till I think it’s the 25th.God. I need to check that, don’t I? But we should be touring about 10 dates with Slowdive from the sixteenth of February.

Danielle: What else, can we expect from you guys in the future? Like, after Slowdive, like, you have any shows coming up in the spring?

Etienne: In the spring? We have to plan all that, but we will absolutely get back to everybody about that because we’re just a lot is going on in our lives at the moment. Like, I still have exams. Everybody has work, and we’re just trying to sort our lives around this tour and making music and selling merch and just living. And life is not getting easier. So it’s, we’re wearing a lot of hats.

Danielle: I hear you. Well, thank you so much for being here today. It’s been really great talking to you.

Etienne: I’m glad to finally be here.

Danielle: Yeah. Hopefully, we can keep in touch. And if you ever come over here to the states, please make sure you may have a stop in Michigan so I can say hello in person.

Etienne: Of course. That’d be amazing. I’d love to.

Danielle: Alright. Thank you so much. I’ll talk to you soon.

Etienne: Thank you. Bye.

Written by: Danielle Hennes

Rate it

Post comments (0)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *