Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 27: Elder Island

Elder Island, photo by Nic Kane

Elder Island is a trip-hop influenced trio from the home of that downtempo electronic music that emerged in the 90s in Bristol, UK where Katy Sargent, Luke Thornton and David Havard met at university. Starting life in the early 2010s as an experimental folk act its members had access to seeing the great electronic artists of their early days and inspired by the power of that music and its ability to stir emotions in ways different from the types of instruments you’d use to make even more avant-garde folk. But fusing the styles completely and arranging the music almost like a trip hop jazz lounge group, Elder Island’s debut album The Omnitone Collection was a set of lush, soulful, deeply atmospheric pop with surprisingly spare arrangements that left a great deal of room for experimenting with dynamics that invited the listener to project their imagination on to the open spaces of the music. At that point in the band’s history its three members were multi-instrumentalists who had learned to integrate its broad sonic palette with imaginative arrangements and creative production. The 2021 album Swimming Static was completed on either end of the 2020 (and ongoing) pandemic with work done in between since Elder Island all lived together or nearby. The record reflected the band’s expanding access to analog synthesizers and the ability to freely incorporate those elements into the songwriting resulting in pop songs that have resonance with early analog synth artists like Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder and OMD as well as synth pop groups of the 80s and modern practitioners of the art of dramatic tonal and dynamic arrangements like Nation of Language and Perfume Genius.

Listen to our interview with Elder Island on Bandcamp and go see the UK trio at its shows in Denver at the Bluebird Theater on 5.20 and in Boulder at The Fox Theatre on 05.21.