9 months after their amazing split with German post hardcore band MAHLSTROM, Brussel, Belgium’s experimental down tempo sludge grunge hardcore band EVERY STRANGER LOOKS LIKE YOU sit down with IDIOTEQ to discuss their work and tease you with 2 live videos featuring new songs to be released on their debut full length album “Bluest Shade Of Black”. Recorded live at Nord Rhein Water hall on February 21st and edited by Tim De Gieter for Much Luv Studio, both tracks capture the band’s raw energy and unique thick sound theit joins varuous moods and styles to a powerful and passionate unit of atmospheric power and emotion. Dive into it and read the full insightful interview below!
Band photo by FÄR.
Hey there buddies! Long time, no see! How have you and Brakel been doing this fine winter?
Hi Karol! We’ve been good, thank you. Just finished writing and demoing our debut full length, so it’s been a warm and cozy winter in our rehearsal space!
Please be so kind and shoot us a proper introduction of the band, will you? How did you form ESLLY, who is who and how has this band developed since you started this journey?
Alright, so we’re ESLLY, a three piece grunge/hardcore band from all over Belgium. Willem (drums) and Tim (vocals/guitar) are high school friends have been playing together in bands for the past ten years, Jan (bass) joined ESLLY last year.
We’re constantly playing more and more over the year as the three of us are also involved in other projects and genres, and because of that our music is ever changing as well.
We’ve already put out 3 EP’s and a split record, all of which share similarities but are sonically and genre wise quite different because the stuff we were into at the time was different as well.
Live photo by PYLON network.
What were the reasons behind the lineup change?
Before Jan came along, we had been playing with another good friend of ours, Leïla.
However, as Leïla became more occupied with her personal goals and ambitions (she’s now one of the best pastry chefs around), we were forced to look out for somebody else.
Eventually we bumped into Jan. Although he’s only been around for a year, it feels like he has been with us since the beginning of the band.
We were able to seize the opportunity to start a new chapter in our bands history and we couldn’t be more excited.
So, you’re finally about to hit the studio to record your debut full length. How does it feel?
It honestly feels great! We’ve been building up to this moment for quite a while now. Everything we previously dropped was 5/6 tracks maximum because we felt we still needed to improve a lot and figure out what our “sound” or “style” exactly is.
As we said we spent the past few months doing nothing but writing and demoing and we’ve ended up with 13 songs we’re so proud of. They really represent what we try to do as a band and will hopefully get the message we’re trying to send across.
How do you approach your writing? How would you characterize the creative process of the new tracks?
Willem plays three hours of improv smooth jazz on his melodica and then we take best parts and turn them into a song.
Just kidding :)
Actually we kind of did the exact opposite as we did for our previous records; we wrote 20 or so instrumental songs because we wanted to make sure the riffing on the record was on point.
By the time we got to 20 we kind of started forgetting the first few we had written so we decided we had to demo the entire record as soon as possible. When we started demoing we had 14 songs left that we were really happy about, so we recorded those, then wrote the lyrics and figured out the vocal lines.
Tim writes all of the words and theme wise he already knew what he wanted to talk about which sped up the writing process considerably.
(Tim) In the end it just came down to figuring out which instrumental accompanied which lyrics best so everything seemed to feel a lot more natural and flow better than it did on our previous records. If I felt like raging I could pick one of the faster, heavier songs and for lyrics I felt needed more intimacy I could go for one of the slower paced songs. It all seems very balanced.
We guess the entire process was characterized by organized chaos as we were working so hard we kind of lost track and wrote more than we had to, which seems to have paid off in the end because we were able to pick our 13 favorite songs.
When working on new recordings, what do you all agree on most strongly?
That it has to sound good and that everybody feels comfortable with what he’s playing.
We don’t want to impose anything onto each other because that would take the fun out of everything, but we also want to obtain the best possible result so we listen to what everyone has to say.
The thing that we want to get across the most is the “realness” of the music, so we really work our asses off to be able to play everything as tight as possible.
When recording we don’t want to be modifying sounds/editing performances so before starting we all agree to commit to whatever’s on record, so that it represents what we sound like live.
How do you look back on your previous records today?
It’s like looking through a box of old pictures. Kind of nostalgic, kind of want to move forward. They remind us of the good times we had writing them, and playing them for other people, but also show the evolution of the band.
We started off maybe less “hard” sounding than we are now, and then gradually our sound became a bit slower paced, heavier.
That’s why we love the new record so much; it’s got elements of everything we’ve released, yet more refined and balanced better overall. Though we wouldn’t have been able to write this record without learning from the EP’s and split.
How come you didn’t pursue this common simple concept of straight up hardcore punk and decided to hit the more experimental, cross-genre sound with this band? Tell us a bit about your inspirations.
It never was a conscious decision for us. The cross genre thing mostly stems from the fact that we try to let each other be as free as possible when it comes to writing our parts, regardless of genre or style. In the end that leads to situations where you’re creating this patchwork of things where you might have the guitars playing sludge-ish downtuned, downtempo riffs and then a more upbeat drum beat with a more rock feel to it.
There really are no limits or rules when we’re doing stuff, everything can be tried or discussed which is a great vibe to be part of.
You really get to enjoy yourself more when you have to think less about the aspect of “fitting in a certain category of music”. We’re just more concerned with the overall atmosphere of the songs and if what we’re playing sounds exciting and would be a good backdrop for the feeling or message we’re trying to get across with the song.
Our inspirations are very broad as well, we basically listen to everything and anything that sounds good to our ears. Could be hardcore one week, trap the next one, and classic rock in between.
We’re very open minded when approaching music, and we notice that the people that like what we do are as well, which is something we’re extremely proud of.
Hardcore and heavy music in general has changed dramatically since its early days. In your opinion, how important is it to accentuate the differences between the more progressive and multi-style now and simpler, less diversified then?
To be honest; to us it really isn’t all that important. Maybe it’s “useful” when organising records or tagging stuff. To us, hardcore is more than just a genre. It’s a family, a home away from home, it’s people you feel comfortable around and share similar interests, and enjoy (music that evolved out of) hardcore.
What was the first medium and art form you experienced when you first felt an inclination towards creativity? Are there any outside music creative activities that help you prepare to translate your emotions and messages through music?
The first and only medium would have been music. The three of us started playing in bands at a very young age (around 15 or so), and over the years we’ve been involved in other bands and genres than ESLLY (ranging from pop to metal or trap). This really helps keep everything feel fresh and new, because even though we’re doing “only” music it’s not limited to doing the same stuff over and over again.
It obviously has helped us a lot in developing our own playing style and sound because trying to express a certain emotion or achieve a certain texture or sound in one style might not be suitable for another… Or might be one of the best things we’d never have thought of in the first place.
Are your lyrics and the content sphere of your recordings a representation of yourself?
Sure, though it’s more like some sort of snapshot of what a certain period of time felt/was like. It always just seems easier focusing on things that are really there than forcing some kind of mindset upon yourself just for the purpose of writing a song. If one of us is having a rough patch or not feeling to well it probably isn’t the best of ideas to be like “LET’S WRITE SOME FEELGOOD POP NOW!!”. And vice versa.
With the new record we tried to take this approach even further. Songs like “Self Portrait, 2015”, which we played for the live session, really seem to have captured the overall vibe of what was going on in our personal lives while writing the album.
What lessons has running a hardcore band taught you so far?
That there’s more to life than we could have imagined if we’d just had a life without touring etc.
Meeting people with different interests, convictions, ideas and perception is always an eye opener and definitely shows one of the best sides of hardcore; unity. Even though we might often be the “odd band on the bill” we always feel included, and are always treated very well by both promoters and attendees.
People often think hardcore is some sort of a clubhouse for kids worshipping 70/80’s US bands and practicing how to correctly hit people but to be honest we’ve seen very little, if none, of that.
Another thing we’ve definitely been amazed by is how much impact a single individual or a few people can have on their local scene. We’ve played shows in both Belgium and abroad that were put on by 20 year old kids just wanting to have bands play their town. Hardcore is definitely being kept alive and well by fans, which is something really beautiful. A lot of the labels are run in the same manner and are just kids that spend their hard earned cash on bands and releases they genuinely believe in, which is a very rare thing in other genres and feels great to be a part of.
Ok guys, back to your new album, how will you release this new effort and what are your thoughts on vinyl vs other popular record formats? Also, who’s helping you out with the distribution this time?
We can’t really go into detail on the who and how aspect of the record because we’re deciding those things as we speak… ;)
What we can say is that the record definitely will be our biggest effort to this day and that it will look great as it features great visuals from “Benoit.”!
As far as vinyl vs CD goes, it’s a tricky question… Obviously we love vinyl, it’s a beautiful looking medium and has got a character and sound of its own. CD on the other hand is a practical format, and definitely has got the quality aspect covered. It seems a never ending debate on which is better, but to us it’s like comparing apples and oranges.
Then there’s also streaming nowadays, offering a whole new audience yet often trading quantity for quality…
As a band of course we’ll always prefer physical releases because in that way we can make sure that the listener can experience the record in the way we intended it to be.
That being said, what are your plans like for the rest of the year?
Well, definitely our number one plan would be to get back out there and start playing shows again. We miss being able to interact with an audience and play our stuff live, so once the record will be done (mid may) we’re going to try to play as much as possible in and outside of Belgium.
Other than that we’ll be dropping some new videos and hopefully we’ll be able to finally release our 2015 Christmas single this year.
Lastly, have you discovered any new projects, bands and records lately that have highly impressed you?
Obviously the new DEFTONES songs are breath taking, so we’re impatient to hear the entire album…
Other than that; COCAINE PISS are releasing a new record which is an absolute rager, ONMENS also just released “Witruimte” and shut down the entire Belgian EDM game.
BONES’ last mixtape was absolute fire, and DESOLATED provided excellent bedroom mosh-material with “The End“.
Ok, thanks so much for your thoughts guys! It’s been a pleasure. Feel free to close it up with your final words and take care!
Thanks for having us Karol, was great chatting with you! We hope it’ll be a good read and that you’ll enjoy the live session as well, keep an eye on our Facebook for updates and quirky stuff about the new record and stay based. ♥