East India Youth: “As long as I sort of get left alone to do what I sort of see fit…” Interview by Ruth Bailey


For any British artist, just to receive a nomination for The Mercury Prize, is a dream come true. Since being nominated, William Doyle, the man behind the moniker East India Youth (nominated in 2014 for his debut album Total Strife Forever) has been living that dream and many more, hardly stopping in the ensuing two years to draw breath. Yet to discuss his star on the rise Doyle remains very measured.

“It’s been nice and slow and gradual and I haven’t had to make very many compromises to get to where I want, and that’s the most important thing to me,” he says.

“I kind of feel like it hasn’t blown up too much. Maybe, like, with the Mercury Prize, which was kind of weird, (but) I still don’t feel it was unnatural in any way and I’m grateful for that really. Because I think if it had of blown up, then I think it would have been. But I feel very calm about the way things have developed.”

What’s less calm is his non-stop touring schedule. The 24-year-old, largely self-taught, musician has traversed the globe throughout the past 12 months heading as far afield as Reykjavik, Tokyo, along with parts of the United States and throughout mainland Europe.

Speaking to Cyclic from his home in London following a weekend performance in Spain, the articulate and well put together Brit appears wise beyond his years. Born of parents who were not overly musical themselves, and without too much formal training (an A-Level music course taken throughout senior school to master the fundamentals), Doyle is a believer in the artistry associated with music rather than just being just a technically proficient musician. His answer when asked about maintaining this current momentum attached to his creative process? To always keep on writing.

“It takes up most of my mental energy, most of the time, I guess. It’s the same for a lot of artists where they finish an album and it doesn’t come out for another six months and they start to wonder, ‘How do I spend that time productively?’ And for me, I just start writing again, so when an album comes out I’m already quite a way into making some new music. But I’m not the sort of person who likes to try stuff out on the road, or tour with the gig, I like to keep the atmosphere and the world that I’ve created with the current album in tact and save the new stuff for later on.”

The release of his second album, Culture of Volume, midway through 2015, (named for his author-friend, and Brian Eno collaborator, Rick Holland’s poem: “Monument”) has signalled the continuation of his touring schedule, providing him the opportunity to continuously evolve the live show that accompanies his music.

“It’s been really fun to see the live show develop from the start of the year. I started 2015 with one album and I had a bunch of new equipment on stage I was just getting used to, and we were going to places I had just never been, and it’s been really interesting to see it develop over time and how people have experienced it in a different way. So it’s been a nice little learning curve and we’ve been to some amazing places this travel aspect has been excellent. It’s been a very full exciting year, I feel like a different person at the other end of it.”

Come February, the prolific electronic producer will, however, be happy to take a well-earned break from live performance.

His Australian fans will have a chance to see Doyle when he joins the illustrious ranks of St Jerome’s Laneway Festival lineup along with other international guests, including Grimes, Chvches and Battles – all in town throughout February. He, for one, is excited to be ending the tour Down Under.

“I’m looking forward to ending the tour in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. It’s going to be a real nice time. It’s going to be one of the real highlights of our touring life, you know, because I’ve never been down to that part of the world before and to have the opportunity to do that is amazing.”

With a break assured and a signing last year to international distribution label XL Recordings (a relationship, he says, he’s been building for over two years) the continued path of Doyle’s ascendency will likely enable yet another album to come to fruition – this one in good time.

“As long as I sort of get left alone to do what I sort of see fit – my artistic wit – then as long as I can put food on the table and pay my rent, I’m quite a happy person really. My ambitions are fairly modest in those respects.”

East India Youth play St Jerome’s Laneway Festival along with sideshows in Sydney and Melbourne.

The album Culture of Volume is out via XL Recordings


About Author

I find myself in a 'looping state of mind' more often than not.