Adelaide, you’ll want to keep an eye (and ear) out for up-and-coming local band, iiah (pronounced eye-ah). A post-rock 5 piece comprised of Tim Day (vocals, keyboard), Matthew Stedman (drums, percussion) Ben Twartz (guitars, vocals), Nick Rivett (guitars) and Luke Lendrum (bass, vocals), the guys are known for creating emotive, cinematic music, drawing inspiration from artists such as Sigur Ros and Explosions In The Sky. Having released their self-titled EP in 2015, iiah are back with new album ‘Distances’, out this May. We had a chat to Nick and Matthew about the music, their gigs and of course, the upcoming album.
Does the name ‘iiah’ have a meaning? How did it come about?
Matthew: To be honest it doesn’t have any mythical or significant meaning behind it, kind of made up! We were in the process of deciding a band name back in 2013 after years of not having one. We had few drinks and all offered up different options. This particular name was made up of random letters which we came up with and later became ‘iiah’ (which was spelt differently at the start). It felt really different, organic and original. The difficulty with it is people never know how to pronounce it!
Your upcoming album will be released this May - did you have an overall message to convey, or theme for the album?
Nick: For us, 'Distances' is about the journeys that we all take through our lives, be it physical, emotional or spiritual ones. It’s a strong theme in the lyrics and for us it’s in the instrumental tracks also. The great thing about instrumental music though is that it’s really left open for everyone to find their own meaning and emotional connection to the track so in a way, while we have that meaning personally, I can’t wait to hear what other people take away from those tracks.
What are your favourite tracks off the album?
Nick: I’m really happy with all the tracks but my favourite is definitely Passages and Awakening, it’s not that I think it’s better or anything like that, but it’s the first time we’ve recorded a song in that ambient a style despite having played a lot of stuff like that when we jam at practice. I think it represents a significant part of our musical identity which hasn’t been represented in our previously recorded material so it’s great to have it on the album.
Your music is very ambient and cinematic. How does the creative process go for making such music? Does the music come before lyrics?
Nick: No one ever brings a complete song to the band, it’s a very organic process that will just about always start with a lone riff or sound and from there it takes all our creative input to really find the song’s sound and form. Music always comes before lyrics, for us vocals are just another instrument and we use them sparingly where we feel they add to the track, we never approach a track thinking it has to have a vocal line or lyrics.
Do you all contribute to the song writing?
Matthew: We all contribute to song writing as it's done through us playing and jamming together as a band and then working on ideas together. Sometimes one of us will play something which becomes a genesis of a song and then we write our parts around that and shape it together. It’s very much a democratic process, we all have our say and give suggestions to other band members parts. The lyrics are also a collaborative effort which is really unique I think.
Nick: That being said, Tim is definitely the main lyric writer, I don’t think we can take too much of that credit away from him but we do all have our input there at times.
What’s the best part about playing a live show?
Matthew: Well the worst part is the nerves before playing in front of people which I still get to this day! But I think you can’t beat the opportunity to share your own music, something which you have created to others and then receiving gratitude for that is the ultimate reward. There are times when you hit certain moments in songs together just right and that feels absolutely amazing and satisfying.
Nick: A lot of our music is about emotive lines and moments so in a way, playing those live is the most important part of writing those tracks because in that live moment we’re sharing that with everyone in the room in the most direct and immediate way possible.
Who are your musical influences and inspirations?
Nick: Post rock is obviously a huge source of influence and inspiration, with bands like Sigur Ros, Sleepmakeswaves, This Will Destroy You and Explosions in the Sky being major influences and even catalysts for what we do; but we all come from some really diverse musical backgrounds and influences so there’s a heap of additional styles which influence our songs including jazz, pop punk, hardcore, electronic and things like orchestral film scores. For me personally I’ve always found heaps of inspiration in Hans Zimmer’s work, the way he conveys emotion and the journey those pieces take you on as you listen are definitely things that influence me when I’m writing music.
How would you describe Adelaide’s local music scene?
Matthew: The quality of music in Adelaide is really impressive and I think there’s some really amazing bands around. It’s very eclectic, you can find all styles. We personally love it here because we’ve built some friendships with local acts and we all look out for each other whether it be supporting for gigs or promoting one another - it’s great to have that camaraderie locally. One thing I’ll say is people have to get out see local acts more often, these artists work really hard and it’s not easy organising these things at a local level - go and see a local gig!
Where to from here – what’s next for iiah?
Matthew: Stadiums, headline festivals, global domination…… record deals! I think we’re making small steps, I would like to support a touring artist, that would be a dream. But I think as long as we can still keep writing music that’s the real long term goal.
Nick: Realistically I think I want to just continue enjoying what we’re doing, that’s the main reason we do this, continue to write better songs, play better live shows. If we keep getting better then I think we can achieve our goals like playing bigger shows, going on tours, recording more music.
All images via iiah.