Interview: Inspired by Islet


On a typical grey Berlin day, we had one event lined up to lift us off the ground. Namely Introducing with three promising bands, Breton, I heart Sharks and Islet. Luckily, we were given the chance to see the amazingly noisy experimental guys of Islet live and to interview them. Reminding us of the early Animal Collective and Pavement, Islet from Cardiff are not that average Indie band that just pops up on your sidewalk. Nope, their tunes are not love at first sight, but at second, third and fourth listen, we gradually love them better and better. Sweat, tambourines, stage jumping, headbanging – Islet’s energy playing live surprised us by far. Watching them made us realize that they live and breathe their eclectic sound, and we inhaled deeply to get a glimpse of their excessive spirit.

Lead singer Mark Thomas was so nice to let himself be interviewed in a dark Berlin Kreuzberg hallway (Mark you are awesome!) – see for yourself:

Julia: So you came all the way from Wales…

Mark: We did! Have you been?

J: No, but I really wanna go! So tell us about your home?

M: Well, John my brother, and me, we both grew up on a farm on the edge of Wales. And we both moved to Cardiff, that’s where we met Emma and Al, the other two. And yeah, Wales is a lovely place, and also Cardiff is a very nice city, it’s quite small and a really enjoyable place. And Wales is really green and nice.

J: Yeah, I have seen it in movies a lot.

M: Oh really?!

J: Uhm yea, well do you know Rosamunde Pilcher? She does these cheesy romantic movies where you can see heaps of scenery…(blushing since it’s a shit German tv series and quickly moving on to the next topic…)

So! Do you know how to speak Welsh?

M: I know smaller things, but I am not fluent. I can’t have a conversation yeah.

J: So can you say something in Welsh?

M: Ya ki duuuh! (or sth.) That’s „Cheers!“ or uhm, yeah, what else, tu happaaah (or sth.), „I am happy“!

J: So how does Wales and where you come from influence your sound?

M: Well, I think , the two of us we came from a quite rural background, the two of us did anyway, I think growing up, not in complete isolation, but isolation a bit, influences you maybe. And I moved into the city and then you are influenced by lots of other things, lots of other people. But specifically Wales – I don’t know, it’s just where we live so I guess we just influenced by life in general and people and things.

(we get chased out of the restaurant where we sat down casually without consuming anything and accommodate ourselves in someones doorway next to it, Mark is still cool with it)

J: So who inspires you as a musician, your music is really wild…

M: …yeah! Lots of everything, well my favourite band is Can, I think they are from Germany? Are they?

J: I don’t know… (after looking this up, yes they are! Can was an experimental rock band formed in Cologne in 1968, later labeled as one of the first “krautrock” groups)

M: Yeah, but also bands from nowerdays, like Animal Collective, Pavement, Battles… We just love music generally, love life, so we get influenced by day to day things… We also like different things. I really like a lot of North American music, I also like quite poppy kinda things, Strokes, the Rapture, things like that. But we also love really weird things…

J: What’s your favourite band of the moment, like of today?

M: That’s a hard question- Oh, there is a band called Pink and Noisey, they are from Denmark, i bought their album yesterday- Yea I think they are probably my favourite band of the moment!

J: Cool! So, how did your life change since you are in this band? Did it change a lot?

M: Yeah, it changed a lot, I mean all of us have always played in bands, and we are used to a bit of touring, but now we have done loads of touring and we’ve been overseas a lot, we have been to Japan in January which was an amazing experience. Yeah, it changed loads, and you kinda yet used to coming to places and it’s so exciting! But you have to try and enjoy it for what it is! A lot of bands think about it as being  a boring business trip, but we see it as „cool, we get to go to Berlin!“. And we have to be like that otherwise it would not be very fun. We often work with people and they get worried about how many tickets they’ve sold, but we are like „yeah whatever, we just do what we want“, which is cool as well!

J: That’s the best way really! So what’s your favourite song of your new album? We really liked that one really quiet song…

M: Oh! „We bow“! We did not play that tonight, tonight we played…

J: …noisy stuff but cool stuff!

M: Yeah! We had to make it shorter, because yesterday in Hamburg we played about an hour, and we did have to make it a really short set.

J: Yeah that was a shame, we were like „what – it’s over?“

M: Yeah, I know…So we had more songs and thats a shame…Yeah I like „We Bow“, that’s one of my ones that I made up so, I LIKE it (laughs)   . But I like them all, I don’t like to choose between them. „We bow“ is what we love to play last, but we didn’t!

J: Ok! And – there is this one song of yours, it’s called „A Warrior Who Longs To Grow Herbs“. I have to ask – is it about weed?

J & M: (laugh)

M: Well! I have never even thought about that! Oh! Well fuck it, yea it is! (laugh) … Yeah, that can be, why not! But well, not specifically, I don’t know, I did not do the lyrics for that one, so I think it is about wanting to be in the garden.

J: (…) Oh my god. Good!

J & M: (laugh)

J: So what’s next for Islet? Do you have a long term plan?

M: The only long term plan is hopefully to keep on what we doing and doing it more, play at festivals, all over the world and just enjoy it, have fun!

J: So do you like Berlin, do you come here often or is it your first time?

M: For some of the guys it is the first time in Berlin I think, but I have been here two or three times before just to enjoy it, on holidays. I really like Berlin, it’s an inspiring place to be I think. And I also have friends who live here, so I think it’s an amazing place and I would like to come back.

J: Cool! So the very last question I have to ask you for the sake of my fellow blogger Fanni – what’s your favourite animal?

M: (thinks about it) A dog. A sheepdog. Because I grew up with lots of sheep dogs. They have got a place in my heart.

J: Awesome! So that’s it! Thanks so much for making the time!

M: My pleasure!

Thank you Islet, Arte Live Web and PIAS for making this interview possible!

If you feel like having a look at the live performances via Arte Live Web, click here:

Islet – Breton – I heart Sharks

Here a few impressions of the evening:

Julia steht auf schwitzige Rockkonzerte, Whiskey und blutige Steaks. Sie braucht jede Nacht mindestens achteinhalb Stunden Schlaf und mindestens zehn Minuten um einen ironischen Witz zu verstehen.

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