Breaking Through | 8 Questions with Bleach Lab

Get to know the South London-based dream pop merchants ahead of the release of their debut EP, A Calm Sense Of Surrounding.
Posted: 18 March 2021 Words: Tom Curtis-Horsfall

FFO: Julia Jacklin, Slow Pulp, Snail Mail

It's difficult for budding bands to get noticed as it is nowadays, let alone pursuing a career in music throughout the past year. That hasn't stopped South London-based dream pop merchants Bleach Lab from garnering increasing plaudits and attention, however.

Classifying them as dream pop may even be a disservice: the four-piece's combination of confessional guitar-based balladry and stirring emotional depth is balanced by Jenna Kyle's spine-tingling vocal, a voice that truly needs to be heard. We've had their most recent, more grunge-y, and evocative single 'Flood' on repeat since it dropped.

Ahead of the release of their debut EP A Calm Sense Of Surrounding, we spoke to Kyle about their origins, the challenges they've faced being a brand new band, and actually being able to gig in the near future:

What’s the story behind your band name?

Frank (Guitarist) came up with it but he can't fully remember where from. He think it might have been from a dream he had, but also probably derived as a portmanteau of Stereolab and Beach House. We instantly fell in love with the name and found it to be a perfect fit to the style of music we created. We've heard so many mispronunciations of it by now that it's kind of become a running joke. Some personal favourites been 'The Bleach Boys', and 'Beach Crab'.

How long have you been playing together, either in or out of Bleach Lab?

It's been quite a while now, although it has absolutely flown by! Josh (Bassist) and Frank (Guitarist) met back in 2017 after both responding to a 'join this band' ad online. When that didn't go quite to plan, Josh thought it would be a good idea to ask me if I wanted to join for a few rehearsals. Safe to say it worked out. Me and Josh previously studied music together at college.

Which music had played a major part in influencing the band?

We are all pretty diverse in our individual tastes, and take a lot of influence from vastly different genres. We do however find common ground on the likes of late 80s, early 90s artists like Mazzy Star and Slowdive, as well as more contemporary artists like Julia Jacklin, Alvvays, and Widowspeak.

What’s the inspiration behind your most recent single ‘Flood’?

'Flood' was one of the first songs we wrote together as a band. It's essentially a metaphor for becoming completely overcome and absorbed by something or someone, suggesting that they embody the water or sea and use it to take control in every sense of the word. It's also a little heavier than our other releases for sure. 

It fits into the general concept we have for the EP, the five stages of grief. 'Flood' features as 'depression' which follows on to 'acceptance'. Instrumentally, some of the heavier material by bands like Mogwai, and elements of shoegaze were a big inspiration overall. The outro, which is one of our favourite parts of the EP, was greatly inspired by In Rainbows-era Radiohead.

Can you tell us anything about your upcoming EP, A Calm Sense Of Surrounding?

Firstly we are ridiculously excited for the release, it's been such a challenging and educational project for us all. We decided somewhere in the early stages of the beginnings of forming the EP, that the tracks each had an interesting and almost coincidental relation to the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). We took that concept and ran with it and it helped us to form a really well thought out tracklist. 

Also, fun fact: it was recorded when some restrictions were in place in terms of lockdown, so we had to adapt our approach and record everything pretty much apart from each other which was interesting to say the least!

You recently announced a socially distanced show at London’s Moth Club. How desperate are you to perform on stage, and when was your last gig?

Incredibly! Our last gig was not too long before the very first lockdown, just before Christmas in December 2019. We had a couple of things lined up for early of 2020, however they were cancelled almost as soon as they were booked. It is something that everyone has been so deprived of in the last year and we're itching to get back out there, on stage and in the audience too, of course.

If you could share a stage with any artist who would it be?

Collectively as a band, we would likely say Sharon Van Etten, for sure. Also, we would love to play with people like Alvvays, and Soccer Mommy.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a new band?

Lockdown was for sure the biggest hurdle for us to overcome as a band. It has been a tough time for the entire industry. For us personally we had to finish the recording of the EP during lockdown. It meant not being in a room all together which is something we definitely weren't used to. We also parted ways with our drummer through lockdown and had to audition our now new drummer which at the time felt like a big gamble. 

But, in a way, we think that COVID has helped us this year as well. It has given us the time to focus on the direction we want to take as a band. We now feel more confident than ever and can't wait to share with you more music and live shows.

A Calm Sense Of Surrounding is out tomorrow. Listen to more from Bleach Lab here.

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