India Electric Company reveal their Billie Eilish influence as they prepare to come to The Ashcroft in Fareham | Interview

While the pandemic has undoubtedly wrought chaos on the entertainment industry, it has also brought opportunities that might not have otherwise come about.

Monday, 4th April 2022, 5:20 pm

And so it has been for roots music duo India Electric Co.

As well as performing under their own name, for the past few years Cole Stacey and Joseph O’Keefe have been an integral part of synth-pop legend Midge Ure’s backing band, Electronica.

For their upcoming tour – their first headline shows in three years – they will be joined for the first time by drummer Russell Field, who is also part of Electronica.

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The Guide caught up with singer/guitarist/violinist Cole, currently living in ‘a glorified shed in a field in Somerset.’

Russell played on the pair’s second album The Gap, which came out in May 2020. This tour will be their first chance to play many of its songs live.

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As Cole explains: ‘It's crazy. It all feels like a blur putting it out when we did, to be able to go back and work on those tracks and hopefully progress them as well, it's really exciting.

Cole Stacey (left) and Joe O'Keefe are India Electric Company

‘Rhythms have always been integral to our recordings, so it made sense after a little time away to come back with something fresh.

‘Rhythm connects with people in a different way when it's prominent live. We've been working with Russell since 2017 in Midge's band, and he played on the album, so it just made perfect sense for him to join us.

‘We did a couple of shows in the autumn, and we did one at the O2 in Manchester, and it was joyous for us. Selfishly, it was just amazing to have this driving force, these rhythms on stage – whether it's an Afro-Cuban bembe rhythm, or a sea shanty from the 1800s, it just drives it in a different way.

‘It just felt so good, we said: “Let's do it like this from here-on in.”

India Electric Company are at The Ashcroft Arts Centre in Fareham on April 7, 2022. Picture by Deborah Hicks

The opportunity came up for these headline shows, and it's the first thing we've done in three years, and it felt like: “let's move forward, and not do the same old thing we've been doing”.

‘It's been a chance to reset, and I think that's been really cathartic.’

Having Russell on board has also given them the chance to rework older material.

‘That's been one of the most enjoyable things. With that first album, rhythm was integral, but we were never able to have live drums at shows.

‘He just brings a great energy and allows us to work on new arrangements. People haven't seen us for a while, so it's nice and refreshing – hopefully – that we've got new arrangements of songs they already know.’

Cole and multi-instrumentalist Joe have been hard at work writing new songs too.

‘I think it's the first time since we started where we've had a break from touring. Touring is wonderful, but it can make you a little bit insular.

‘The break enabled us first and foremost to just go back and listen and absorb as much stuff as possible – to listen to as many artists, and new artists, as possible.

‘We're both really into Billy Eilish – the way she produces her records with her brother is fascinating, The Smile, Arlo Parks - I love that album, there's an amazing pianist called Hania Rani – she's really great. We're listening to a lot of pop music,’ and he laughs, ‘and obviously Ultravox!’

‘There's been some amazing stuff out there – and it's broadened our horizons, and I think that's filtered through into our songwriting.

‘We've spent a year of just trying to delve into things structurally and melodically, and with certain harmonies. We have got a kind of overriding theme which will hopefully run through an album. We want to make an album that is “An Album” – we want to have the two sides, we want to go... on a bit of a journey, without sounding too cliché about it.

‘There's always going to be some kind of continuity [to our music] because what it boils down to is Joe and I sitting in a room, drinking coffee, writing songs.

‘It feels fresh, I do think that time away from being on the road has helped that purely because it's given us a chance to open our ears and our eyes to what others have done – which is massively inspiring.

‘We’ve been going back to basics in the sense that it's just been Joe and I in a room with a piano and a guitar, and then we'll switch, and we've got the Midge Ure influence because we've got a few Moogs kicking around and creating beats and rhythms.

‘It's been really cathartic being able to spend this amount of time just focusing on songwriting and just trying to hone those skills a bit more.

‘It was a strange time, but it has had its positives too.’

With Midge’s next UK tour put back to 2023 – where India Electric Co. will also be the opening act – they plan to make the most of the time before then by playing their own headline gigs.

‘We can't wait to get out and have that shared experience.

‘That shared experience has been so lacking for so long, that's the really exciting part for us.’

India Electric Company are at The Ashcroft Arts Centre in Fareham on Thursday, April 7.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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