East India Youth

His brilliant debut album, Total Strife Forever, is out today.
Let’s kick off 2014 with an artist that has permeated the whole of 2013.

East India Youth is a solo project by William Doyle. One of the most talked appearances in the London music scene last year.

East India Youth first single Heaven, How Long, part of a 12” EP Hostel, was out in Februray 2013 and immediately was a on music news; for two main reasons.

First is obvious, because it is a great record that instantly acted as a catalyst for the London Electronic music.

Electronica is the music of these years, this isn’t a surprise. The arrive of East India Youth was indeed a surprise. With his sound everything in a confused box seemed to fall in the right place. Doyle mixture of creativity, taste for the sound, melody, danceable loops and also his look stood out.

From that moment (to today) it is as if the reference has been set. The artist to confront with, for any other London electronica ensemble, was East India Youth.

The second reason why East India Youth arrive was on news is because the announced 12” vinyl would have been out on a newly created The Quietus Phonographic Corporation new Label… founded by… erm… The Quietus.

It is a news because … to mention the original article, John Doran, TheQuietus’ editor put it well : “I’d always said that I’d cut my own head off using nail clippers before we started a record label. I’d learned too much from watching other sites and magazines pour all of their time, money and talent into them, just to watch them spectacularly implode. It was, I said, like withdrawing all your money from a cash machine and setting fire to it while simultaneously flushing your own head down a toilet filled with goat’s piss.”
Got it?

Laura Snapes still at Pitchfork at that time, came out with a nice review of the single, which mentions everything from Liars to The Who passing through The Horrors, helping to increase the curiosity inducing everyone to click on that soundcloud wave.

The best bit is when you realise that the above mentions are much more accurate than they read.

Countless play (actually very well countable 49.815 + 15. 783on Soundcloud + 10396 and counting on youtube and more alsewhere) and many mentions caught people attention. New Band of The Day @ the guardian at this point caused East India Youth to became the one to hear in (East) London.

It’s not just marketing or word of mouth, though.
When you get to this point the first believer in you must be yourself. Which is what William Doyle understood quickly and dedicated his time to.

From February till the end of the year his vintage floral shirts, Mac Powerbook and bass have been decorating every other stage, support stage, main stage, DJ set, disco in town… and beyond.

I have not covered a huge loads of concerts in 2013 but I came across East India Youth at least three times.
First for the405 birthday party in April at the Old Blue Last. Shoreditch place to start to be cool.
Then he woke up Field Day Festival goers gathering a very big crowd at midday under the Quietus tent. In a still sleepy Victoria Park his synth started a great day. (the daily life pics on this gallery)

Last (time I saw him) when he opened for These New Puritans (the night pics along the ‘photo tip’ at the bottom).
Unfortunately I missed the other fifth birthday party of The Quietus where William Doyle played together with a stunning line-up made with Factory Floor, Grumbling Furs and Teeth of the Sea. I cannot be everywhere, but I regret this a lot.

Surely in the months from the first time to the last I have attended his live show, the music improved a lot. The set at Heaven was utterly brilliant.

I am not going to review the album here. I know too little about electro/techno/synth/Drum Machine based music to attempt even a couple of paragraphs.
I appreciate (see below) William Doyle was in a band before and this may be one of the reasons why I can listen to his music without getting bored before it’s over. There is memory of ‘songs’ in his tunes.
I also realise electro-pop is the genre of the decade and I keep an ear onto it. The other ear still waits for the day the guitars’ curve will rise back, plug into some Marshall, turns the volume to 11 and blow my mind.

Many are reviewing this by the way. From a tweet of Alexis Petridis going “This album by East India Youth is fucking amazing” last December a plethora of articles emerged.

Petridis himself followed up with a more politically correct tone on his paper making East India Youth a one to watch for 2014: “Something about East India Youth’s debut album Total Strife Forever doesn’t square with the story of the man who made it. To hear William Doyle tell it, he turned to making electronic music for largely pragmatic reasons: the indie band he was in broke up messily and he realised that electronica was a genre that lent itself to a solo artist working from home. He says he recorded the album almost as an afterthought, over three years, while focusing on other projects. It’s not that you don’t believe him, so much as that’s not how the album sounds. It comes across as a hugely self-assured debut, from an artist who knows exactly what he’s doing: he’s confident enough to leap from out-and-out pop to icy ambience to pounding acid house to unsettling experimentation. Whatever the circumstances in which he made it, the fact that he did so marks Doyle out as a rare, idiosyncratic talent.”

The debut album Total Strife Forever is being praised pretty much everywhere and at the moment tops Any Decent Music albums with an 8.3 average (pre Pitchfork) collection of reviews

Clearly if 2013 was the launch ramp for East India Youth the mission is well in orbit now and I do hope to catch up with him at concerts and festival in 2014.

For now, this is a collection of photos I shot last year.

For the future you can follow him online, in line with times East India Youth website is his soundcloud plus the usual bunch of social networks [Soundcloud][facebook][twitter][Spotify]

Last two questions I have no answer are.
What’s the origin of the name?
Is Jenny Saville the painter of the brilliant Album artwork?

Photo tip

In the film era, photography exposure was linked to two variables. Aperture and Shutter.
Iso (also knowns as ASA or DIN before that) the sensitivity to light of the film was a given value and, at least for 36 frames on 35mm film, it was set and unchangeable.
Any pre-digital photographer has been matching, either manually, aperture priority or shutter priority, this pair to get the right exposure for the right situation.

Among the many improvement that digital photography brought to the field, the existence of a third variable is not very appreciated.
ISO are not fixed anymore. From one frame to the next if the light changes it is possible to keep the aperture and shutter we prefer and change ISO accordingly

Talking to many photographers this is not always considered a good practice. At concerts I know that many tend to fix the ISO depending on the situation and keep operating on the classic aperture/shutter pair to determine the right exposure.
The explanation I was given is that from ISO to ISO there is a difference in noise that can make a set non uniform. True till some years ago and very true if you are making a story that needs consistence in results.

Less true nowadays that sensors have improved and ISO variability is not as detectable. Also if you are shooting a concert, if lucky, only one or two photos will be picked for publishing.

I read somewhere that some cameras have ISO priority added to the other two semi-automatic modes.
Mine do not (or I do not know) but I tend to vary ISO during a set often.

Lights at gigs change quickly and deciding which is the perfect ISO is not always obvious.
In dark places there is no choice. With the D700 sensor I know 6400 ISO is the highest to have a decent raw file.

When there is more light, what ISO to go for? My question is instead, why do you have to fix it?

I changed procedure. I set the camera in manual mode, decide the aperture (95% of the times 2.8 to be fair) and the shutter (everything from 1/100s to faster is good) and let the matrix decide the sensitivity.

It is, as any automatic thing, a dangerous approach to do and I strongly suggest to learn very well how your camera matrix deals with light, backlights, spotlights before attempting.
I find that with some experience it is perfectly doable.

What I do is to set the maximum limit for ISO to 3200 (6400 if the situation is desperate), set 800 as a standard and allow the value to go up or down without compromising on the shutter speed (a blurred image is worse than a noisy image) and without messing up with changing the ISO, in addition to aperture and shutter from second to second.

Why? Because concert photography happens to quick to have time to set all the dials and I prefer to be as free as possible to dedicate most of my time to composition.
I believe there is no point to have a sharp, clean image if the final result is a confusing and distracting frame because of a poor composition.
What do you do, instead?

PS: One of my photos of East India Youth (likely one of these in this gallery) has been published on the Guardian, or at least the Guardian has paid me for it.
I don’t have a clue where that has appeared so, if you accidentally have come across it, I’d be very grateful if you let me know. Thanks!

~ by Valerio on January 13, 2014.

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