JellySkin are a Leeds based duo. Harry Whitehead reviewed their new EP then we gave them (Zia and Will) the Spanish Inquisition.
This is liquid music. The voice floats in a great pool of synth, buffeted by waves of fuzz and static. Merpeople songs, coming from deep under the sea. The mind finds itself resting comfortably, happily, sinking rapidly. Like their contemporaries Beach House, Washed Out, and the shoegaze auteurs whose mantle they try to bear, Jellyskin risk suffocating the listener beneath such a depth of sound. The sensation is familiar. A problem common to bands with far more instruments than hands to play them with. Hiding in the watery deeps of their synthesizers.
Yet, a subtle engine starts in the distance, grows louder, stronger, and a guitar comes roaring through, cutting a swathe, letting in air. There is a catharsis; a coming to the surface. The contrast animates the whole EP, from the bubble of Eater’s dead-note opening, to the storming climax of Only Rain (Flows to Beach). The songs arrive at destinations, sometimes in each other, drawing comparisons with post-rock structures, and the work of producers like Four-tet and Jon Hopkins. There is a similar sense of sound alive, yet constructed – when I imagine a Jellyskin show I don’t see Sonic Youth style guitaro-swagger. I see quiet command of sound.
On the fifth song, the closer, something different is happening. A male voice arrives in the centre of a dissonant, disquieting dirge. It is Jellyskin’s risk, their shark in the pool, and it will not be for everyone, though happily, it is for me. Milk of Magnesia is eerie, compelling; King Crimson at a seance. What could have been depressing, is enlivened by the singer’s voice haunting the upper registers. If this is Jellyskin’s darkside, then they should plumb it. The song completes the EP perfectly, it sounds like a destination. When it finished, I waited a moment, then set out again from the beginning.
The Spanish Inquisition.
How did Jellyskin start?
W: We met at a wonderful place in Leeds called The Stone Roses Bar and started going out, then we decided to make some music. That was about a year ago.
Z: We both knew we wanted to create a really exciting new band. Initially we just had practises with a crap keyboard, Will’s guitar and some makeshift drumsticks (wooden spoons) and built it up from there. After spending some time perfecting the songs and recording, we released our first single in the summer and began gigging in September.
How did the name come about?
W: We spent ages and ages thinking of names. When that happens you end up diving down a rabbit hole that it’s very hard to come out of. We once spent about two hours solid at a pub trying and failing to think of names and they just got ridiculous. One day Zia said she liked the word jelly, and we thought of a few endings and now here we are.
What are you musical influences?
Z: It’s so hard to shortlist, but here’s a selection – The B-52s, Goldfrapp, Patti Smith, The Doors, The Shangri-Las, The Ronettes, Bowie, KT Tunstall, Nico…
W: Solid Space, Doves, Blur, Girl Sweat, Arthur Russell, Charanjit Singh, This Heat, Neu!, Spacemen 3, The La’s, Mouse on Mars, The Homosexuals.
What inspired your videos?
Z: The video for ‘Only Rain (Flows to Beach)’ wasn’t inspired by anything particular but I can see where the Lynch comparison came from! We wanted it to look kind of eerily beautiful and mysterious but not look like we were taking ourselves too seriously – we had a great laugh making it. The director shot and edited the footage perfectly, and gave it the vintage feel we were after. Mostly we just wanted to prance around being silly and pose-y with a gorgeous backdrop.
If you could hold your dream gig, where would your ideal venue be, who would support you and what would your outfits be?
Z: After just coming back from our second experience of Glastonbury Festival, one of my dreams for the near-ish future is to play the Crows Nest and also The Park Stage – they’re two of our favourite places at Glasto and we always go on about how incredible it would be to play for a great crowd there. Support: Cat’s Eyes and KT Tunstall. Outfit: something glittery, colourful, maybe like a really heavily sequinned batwing shawl, with my amazing embellished platforms and a big beehive.
W: The Leadmill in Sheffield is a pretty special venue. In terms of supports, I’d say Girl Sweat and Daniel Johnston. And maybe a philharmonic orchestra. Playing Thus Spake Zarathustra in its entirety. In terms of clothes, probably something subtle like a golden suit. It would be a dream to play The Park Stage at Glastonbury too…
Would you rather have skin made of jelly or eat jelly made of skin?
W: Skin made of jelly.
Z: Skin made of jelly. It would be fun to play with and you could absorb handy things like your keys or loose change.
Whatis the naughtiest thing you have ever done?
Z: I once angrily shouted a load of expletives at my teacher from the next room because I thought it was a mate playing a prank. Was obviously heralded as a legend on that school trip.
W: Wheat jokes aside, a band we supported once were massive tools so we stole their rider.
JellySkin’s EP was released on 28.6.17. Click here to bag a copy–> https://jellyskin.bandcamp.com/releases