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Q&A – Isaac Phillips of Wasuremono

1st November 2018

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Isaac Phillips is currently a 3rd Year student studying a BA (Hons) in Professional Musicianship drums at BIMM Bristol. He’s also one quarter of Bradford-on-Avon dream-pop band Wasuremono, who have had an incredible 2018. They supported legendary psychedelic pop rockers The Flaming Lips on tour, played their first show at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, gathered support from BBC6 Music and BBC Music Introducing; plus they released their fantastic debut album ‘Something Left Behind’. We caught up with Isaac to hear about all of the above.   

For anyone who’s yet to hear Wasuremono, can you summarise the band’s sound/vibe?

Under a specific genre, we are under what is known as ‘Dream-Pop’. Weaving atmosphere with up-beat and somewhat unconventional pop songs, garnished with a passion for arranging intricate four-part harmonies. Taking inspiration from bands such as Grizzly Bear, Wild Beasts and the Cocteau Twins, with the newer arrangements leaning towards elements of Talking Heads. Lastly, there is an apparent relationship with the oddities and influences of David Lynch’s works sneaking it’s way into the more atmospheric moments.

The band released its debut LP earlier this year. How did the feeling of releasing it compare to that of your previous EP releases?

‘Something Left Behind’ was our first full-length album released in January 2018. The feeling of releasing our first album was electric. In comparison to our previous E.P releases it felt like a step in a new direction. ‘Kaboom’ was previously our 2016 up-beat, pop-orientated E.P. It brought us our first encounters with BBC6 Music and started our friendship with Steve Lamacq, who gave it widespread airplay and ‘Alligator’ was awarded in his ‘Best of 2017’. When it came to releasing our first album, the songwriting had evolved heavily since the release of ‘Kaboom’ – this new direction still had a resemblance and nods towards the EP stylistically, but was now experimenting more with the idea of a constructing a concept album. There is definitely more space and atmosphere on ‘Something Left Behind’, but it still echoes the previous styles of ‘unconventional-pop’ songs.

The response to the release was overwhelming. We knew we were going in the right direction and developing our idiosyncratic identity. Steve Lamacq brought us into Maida Vale studios in late February for a live session in the legendary ‘Studio MV3’, which was unreal. Steve would later put ‘Something Left Behind’ in his top albums of 2018.

You supported The Flaming Lips for shows earlier this year. What was this like?

It was not only just a jaw-dropping and stunning live experience, it had a very strong sentimental value for me. My mother (Selina) is a monumental Flaming Lips fan and has been in love with singer Wayne Coyne since the early 90’s. I have seen the Lips 5 times – it’s usually just me and my mum going together. We managed to introduce Wayne to my mum as he was ironing his trousers outside our dressing room, which was brilliant. Seeing the mechanics and organised chaos of the behind the scenes at a Flaming Lips show was fascinating, from preparing Wayne’s 8ft ride on L.E.D Unicorn, to the technician in charge of inflating 100 weather balloons and shifting over 25kg of confetti a night. We had an amazing response from the audiences who appreciate the sometimes strangeness and quirkiness of our music.

You’re just coming to the end of a string of dates with Phosphorescent. Any standout highlights?

This for us was our first UK & Ireland Tour, which was an incredibly exciting prospect. We were originally being scheduled for the entire European tour as main support, but due to a short time window, we could only join for the UK & Ireland. However, it was still a magical and unforgettable experience. The main highlight on everyone’s minds was our final tour date at London’s 02 Shepherds Bush Empire. I have had visions that one day we would perform there, so when it was confirmed, it felt surreal. Phosphorescent were the loveliest and friendliest people who made touring a joy and their music is truly mesmerising. It was one of the best experiences of our career.

What’s been the most valuable thing you’ve taken from your course at BIMM?

An Apple IMac…

Only joking, I really can’t pin down one in particular as they’re are so many examples of solid-gold information and knowledge that I have accumulated. If I had to choose one in particular to me it would be the willingness to approach, practice and appreciate every genre of music without prejudice. My drum tutors, James Hester and Mark Whitlam have a fantastic ability to spark interest in students for genres that they may intentionally dismiss. By practicing a genre you may not be interested in, I have learned that it may awaken a dormant ability or approach in your playing that you never knew existed.

What advice would you offer any new students studying at BIMM Bristol?

Be a sponge! BIMM Bristol is dripping with knowledge and it’s up to you to make the absolute most of it. Remember, BIMM is not an instant ticket for success, they are giving you the tools to create your own path to success. The music industry is an extremely small world, the connections you make are everything. Turn up to your lessons, do your work and be as passionate about music as humanly possible!

Lastly, do not be scared of the one they call Greg Cordez. He is one of the most brilliant tutors I have ever had, he is such an inspirational and valuable resource of unlocking your potential as an academic and for yourself.

Any exciting band news coming up? Releases, tours, plans for next year, etc?

Over the summer we have been recording our 2nd Album, which is extremely exciting. In my opinion, it is our best work and strongest to date. We are scheduling it’s release for the beginning of the new year, in the meantime we are working on some single releases from the album. I can’t reveal too much about our plans as we are keeping them under wraps at the moment, but there will definitely be some exciting events. Follow our social medias to keep up to date with all our news and upcoming gigs!

If you’re interested in studying a BA (Hons) Degree in Professional Musicianship – Drums at BIMM Bristol, like Isaac has, click here.

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Author

James Watts

Social Media Assistant, Professional Bassist and Music Journalist. Career highlights include performing at some of the UK's premier music festivals, recording in Abbey Road and interviewing Debbie Harry.