The boys from Port Isla and me after the gig – already best friends, ha x
Port Isla played a gig at the Deaf Institute in Manchester and since my friend/photographer Maddie who saw them supporting Kodaline back in January told me all about them, I knew I had to see them live.
The Southern lads have toured quite a lot and haven’t even had a debut album yet but they know the importance of getting themselves out there. At the moment they’re touring with James Bay and will be supporting George Ezra later on this year.
The night before the gig I got in touch with Port Isla via twitter and we arranged an interview for the following day.
I sat down with Henry before the gig – the other boys were busy preparing themselves – and we chatted about their plans, why “In the long run” sounds a bit like Katie Perry’s “Friday night” and many other things.
Interview with Port Isla
What Nina Spotted: Hello, thanks for taking the time to have a chat with me. If you could maybe introduce your band.
Henry: Okay so, I’m Henry, I’m the drummer from Port Isla, the lead singer is Will, the bass player is also called Will and the guitarist is Stan.
WNS: How do you know each other?
Henry: So I met Will and Stan at UEA university in Norwich, we all did music together and Stan knew Will, ehm, from back home and we asked him to play bass for us.
WNS: So how long have you been playing together?
Henry: We started in early 2011 as a 3 piece and then we asked Will to join the band about 6-7 months later and when Uni finished for us in 2013, we have kinda been doing this full time.
WNS: So I actually found out about you guys through my friend Maddie, who saw you supporting Kodaline ..
Henry: Oh really, at the Albert Hall?
Maddie: and I told Nina about you …
Henry: Oh it’s a gorgeous venue, it’s amazing.
WNS: How was it touring with Kodaline?
Henry: Yeah, it was great. There was another band called The Mispers, they did the whole UK tour with them. We only got to do Glasgow, Manchester and the Roundhouse but it was amazing. We have never played for that many people before, ehm, so it was quite a step up for us in terms of you know…
Maddie: … there were quite a few people screaming for you ..
Henry: yeah, yeah, we’re lucky. We’ve done Manchester a few times, so a couple of people have come back to see us, ehm, yeah, so we’ve got some nice fans out there. It was an interesting step up playing for that many people, drawing in an audience of that size. It was so much fun, I think Roundhouse was one of my favourite.
WNS: Sounds great. So, would you say it is easier being a musician nowadays with all kinds of Social Media involved or harder?
Henry: I think … that’s a good question! .. I think, well obviously I never had the experience what it was like without social media but it’s really, it’s so useful for us as a band you know, to hear the fans feedback. For example: if someone says on twitter ‘What was the 3rd song you played?’ you can tell them and you can also get a feedback right away because you know it’s a crowd favourite. And that’s a really positive thing and it’s nice to hear fan feedback so quickly. You can kinda measure by Facebook and Twitter numbers how popular you are, so I guess it’s kinda like an indicator of where you are.
WNS: If you could collaborate with 3 singers/bands – who would they be?
Henry: Ehm, I think , ehm I’d have to say Paul McCartney as number one, straight away …I think I quite like to …. Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie from Fleetwood Mac .. ehm and third ..I have to pick someone modern … I’d say Tom from Radiohead because they’re my favourite band.
WNS: You guys should do a cover of ‘High and Dry’ – great song.
WNS: Good! Do you vintage shop at all?
Henry: Ehm, I know Will used to..and we’re all kinda interested in fashion but I would say we don’t really get the opportunity too much at the moment, although Will and I went into an antique shop in Norwich yesterday and I found this gorgeous real Harris tweed jacket for like 30 quid…
WNS: Oh wow, that’s a bargain …
Henry: I know… I regret not buying it now but I should have done ( Yes Henry, you should’ve )
WNS: Especially in London or here in Manchester you’ve got amazing vintage shops and they’re quite cheap. Good, next question – Vinyl or Spotify?
Henry: (laughing) …my dad is screaming at me in my head to say vinyl..ehm .. I think personally I don’t really use spotify that much because I am much more of an album person… I enjoy the physical act of getting it out of it’s case you know .. and that whole thing. But I think for the modern conceiver spotify is absolutely great. It’s great and ehm, especially if you are interested in classical music, there are some recordings on spotify that you can’t get on other media formats and that’s really great. It is so much easier if f.e. an advert uses a song from the 60s and you shazam it and spotify it and have it straight away and there you go, you’ve got your favourite song kinda thing. Whereas vinyl, if I buy vinyl, I think about it much more, I think about the purchase more. So I think both are great but I think spotify has it’s up’s and down’s …
WNS: Have you noticed that there aren’t any Beatles songs on spotify?
Henry: Yeah, they’ve taken them down.. they were up for a tiny amount of time and then got taken down…
WNS: So, when are you going to release your debut album?
Henry: Album is due for March next year. So we want to do a couple more EP’s before that, ehm, just because we wanna grow our fan base and do a lot more touring and hopefully by next year we will be in a very strong position.
WNS: So plans for the future besides the album?
Henry: Eehhhhm, I don’t know, I’m so happy with what we’re doing right now, so I think I wanna continue to tour as much as we can. Our new EP is coming out in May and then hopefully do a lot of festivals in the summer and then September time go on another tour and then towards Christmas get recording.
WNS: Which festivals are you playing this summer?
Henry: There’s a few.. We’re playing a festival called Barm on the farm, Kendal calling, Bush stock and a few others..
WNS: Why do you think one specific tune can instantly change someone’s mood or do you believe it can?
Henry: I 100% believe it can. I did a bit of music psychology in Uni and there’s no explanation as to why music can make you feel the way it does. You can be in an awful mood and put on the happiest song in the world and it can make your mood worse and you can put on the saddest song and that can somehow make you feel happier. I guess it’s just the right song for the right mood. The way people connect with music.. in clubs for example. Even when we were on tour with Kodaline, we made our own playlist and I put Mr Brightside on it, just thinking ‘ you know what, it’s a banger!’ and we were in Glasgow and suddenly we heard everyone in the crowd singing it. They were so ready for the gig, it was amazing.
WNS: Manchester is the birthplace of many musicians- who is your favourite?
Henry: I think my favourite is Oasis, yeah for sure. When I was younger, I didn’t really listen to it but when I first started listening to it when I was like 15, I put on their debut. The songwriting is so fucking good, it’s just unreal. I think Noel is very good at almost disguising how good of a musician he actually is, he always says ‘ oh, I can’t really play the guitar, I can’t do anything, I just wait for a tune to come into my head.’ So yeah, Oasis for me, they are a very important band for my musical development.
WNS: So who writes the songs?
Henry: Will writes the songs and we rehearse. He either plays it on the piano or on the guitar, he kinda arranges it all at home and we either go ‘ yeah, that’s great, let’s do it or we go naaah, needs a bit of work.’ And then we add our harmonies.
… and the interview kind of went on and on, we chatted for ages but unfortunately I had to shorten the interview a bit, otherwise this would’ve been a massive post.
After the interview I got to see Port Isla live for the first time and they exceeded my expectations. You know when you listen to a vinyl and you love the tunes but then you hear that tune live and it just blows you away.
Yep, Port Isla managed to that on a Sunday night in a place called The Deaf Institute. Their harmonies were immaculate – at all times. It’s hard to describe the kind of music they do because there are so many influences but their harmonies are sort of their trademark, it adds a folkish, at times an even slightly country feel to their songs.
Now with a lot of bands I know, if they were to split up and the lead singer were to perform alone or start a new band, you couldn’t even tell it’s a different band because you’ve still got the distinctive voice of the singer but Port Isla is not just the voice of Will – it’s Henry on the drums, Will on the bass and Stan on the guitar and one wouldn’t work without the other.
I am so thrilled for the lads’ upcoming adventures and this is only the beginning for them but having played with some great musicians already and having built up quite a solid fan base, it is only a matter of time until the four boys from the South take over the world. They’re talented, they’re humble and their management seems to be doing an amazing job.
Btw: Henry, I’ve not forgotten about the shirt you promised to send
Lots of love, Nina xxx
Photo credits: Madeleine Ovrenius
Port Isla: PortIsla.com