German coldwave duo Isla Ola weaves distorted guitar sounds, catchy rhythms, and a deep, resonant voice of their female singer into an icy snowscape of isolation as you plummet the emotional depths of the human soul. Their philosophical lyrics leave a melancholic and dreaming, yet universally human impression.
Post-Punk.com recently spoke with the band about their creative process, songwriting, and inspirations, and their overarching themes of misty moonlit nights and the prickling somnambulist feeling that envelopes a mind that cascades inwardly through self-imposed loneliness, isolation, or detachment.
Watch Gelaufen below:
Can you tell us about the formation of the Project, what brought you together, and what musical influences did you take with you collaborating on this project?
Jesmari: We got to know each other through music. Some friends of ours wanted to form a band and I was asked if I would like to sing for them. However, the style of music didn’t appeal to me that much. Then I talked a bit with Stefan, who was also in the band, and immediately discovered parallels between the music we’d both like to play. A few weeks later I simply asked him if we wanted to start a project together. And that’s how it all started. In the meantime, we have been making music together for over 8 years.
Stefan: In general I would say we both have quite similar tastes in music, which can range from trip hop to psychedelic rock to post-punk and wave.
Are there any books and films and/or other artistic mediums that inspired you both to create music?
Stefan: I think any type of (artistic) media inspires us to create music. But I would not consider any specific song, book, or any other type of media to be THE source of inspiration. It‘s more like the sum of all influences as a source of inspiration.
How do you go about writing a song? Do you start with an emotional state? What kind of synthesizers do you utilize to create this haunting sound?
Jesmari: Most of the time we start with the instrumental part, just jamming a bit. Little by little, more and more ideas come up in this process and so the song almost builds itself up, we just see what feels right.
Creativity can’t be planned exactly, sometimes lyrics just come out of nowhere, I write them down and go back to them at some point when I feel I have found the right song that can embody the lyrics and what I want to say with them most.
Stefan: I really love my Vermona Mono Lancet ‘15. Although it is a really simple synth it is perfect to create nice bass sounds. We also use the Novation Mininova and Ableton software synths.
There is the expression, “no man is an island”, and yet that has exactly what humanity has had to endure the past year. Does this relate to some of the themes of loneliness explore with your music?
Stefan: Since the songs were written before last year, this time had no influence on the album. But nevertheless, you can certainly find themes like loneliness and isolation in our songs.
Dreams or perhaps hypnogogic states seem to permeate the atmosphere of your music, would you agree with this? Do you think dreams and the subconscious mind are an important part of engaging music?
Jesmari: Yes, I think music can only captivate you if you lose yourself in it mentally or physically while dancing.
It’s so important to be able to dream and step out of reality. If music can do that and challenge you mentally and physically, then you can dream even with your eyes open. You can open your consciousness, come to terms with yourself. What does this song make me feel and what does it remind me of? You can face your fears or your past and learn a lot about yourself. But you can also let go and feel free when the beat invites you to dance.
Can you tell us about the meaning of, or what went into writing the song Gelaufen?
Jesmari: The song “gelaufen” is about how tiring communication can be, often we get caught up in empty conversations and the other person doesn’t even realize that we are already far away with our thoughts.
Can you tell us about the production of the accompanying video for the song?
Stefan: The video consists of some shots from one of our concerts last year and some shots we made especially for this video. These shots are to underline the concept of the song. The video is generally kept very simple and should leave much room for your own thoughts freely.
Can you tell us about the process of creating your album Nebelmond (rough translation: Moon veiled in fog), and what does that title mean?
Jesmari: We worked on the album for a few years without a concrete idea of where it should go. As our debut album it shows the way we went musically quite well, we tried several things and finally found ourselves. We invested a lot of time in each song, made many changes so that we can finally say: yes, this is the final product with which we are completely satisfied. The title of the album refers to the song of the same name. A danceable track that embodies us and the album very well. Once again, the theme of dreaming and losing oneself plays a big role. Especially letting go in the present and daring to lose control.
Can you tell us anything about some of the other tracks on the album such as Augen Körper Herz, Alles Grau, and Why Don‘t You Come Around?
Jesmari: This question is not so easy to answer. Each song is accompanied by a certain memory that inspired me to write it. These memories are so private that only I know what they refer to. I think everyone should find or create their own story in the songs. We all have similar feelings but associate different memories with them. That’s why it’s not so important what the songs mean to me, but rather what they trigger in the listeners, what thoughts and memories they can associate with them. So everyone develops their own story with it, whether dreamy or real.
What can we expect from Isla Ola in the future, do you plan to tour in support of this record when concerts return in Europe?
Jesmari: Yes, definitely. We love to play concerts. It’s such a unique feeling to perform the songs live, to capture the atmosphere of the audience and to let go of everything for that moment. We hope for many more concerts in the future. We are definitely ready for it.
Stefan: I like the idea of playing more concerts. In late 2019 we started to play more and more concerts outside our hometown. A concert in Nuremberg was our personal favorite. I hope it will be possible in a short period of time to play live again.
Order the album here.
Follow Isla Ola:
I S L A O L A
- Why Don‘t You Come Around
- Grave Of The Future
- Alles Grau
- Augen Körper Herz