If like us, you are experiencing an intense case of the Monday blues, Arctic Lake has the perfect track to accompany an evening spent in your feels as they drop “Beathe”. Melancholy at its core, the duo Emma and Paul paint a heartbreaking picture of a lost relationship, brought to life with their whispy vocals and warped instrumentation, sure to move you close to tears.
When speaking on the track, Emma explains, “Well we had been in the studio writing quite a few sad ones about our breakups at that point, and this one stood out. It was inspired by laying next to someone in bed, laying in the silence and knowing it’s not working but holding onto the connection you had. The communication had completely broken down, and I had no idea what was going on in their head. It hurt me and I didn’t know how to handle it because I knew they were hurting too, we just couldn’t talk. It was scary to talk about those feelings, the desperation I felt in that moment, how we were both suffocating. We wrote it at the end of 2019 and it feels very strange but great to have it out in the world now!”
Upon the release of their new heartbreak anthem, the duo sat down with Wonderland to discuss all things music and collaboration. Head below to read our interview with Arctic Lake…
Hey guys, how are you? How has this past year been for you?
Paul: Hello! We are great, thanks! We’re currently in the studio with the heater whacked on full, I’m almost uncomfortably hot, but I like it so the heater’s staying on. I recycle though, so it’s fine. The past year was a bit weird, to be honest – it started off really well, we were in full-on productive mode writing loads of songs, we signed a record deal with our label, I’d just rediscovered Tunnocks Tea Cakes and was eating about a pack a day, life was great! Then we moved into a new flat in July, and it all went downhill. I’m talking ant infestations, mould problems, neighbours dog shitting all over our garden and doorstep – you know the stuff. We still managed to finish loads of music to release this year though, and now we’re out of the hellhole, so this year is looking better already!
The pandemic affected everyone differently, did it affect you creatively at all?
Emma: It feels awful to admit that it was a positive thing for us in terms of creativity, and I think that’s a shared experience among most of our friends and collaborators too. We all just suddenly had time to pause and it felt like such a rare moment to not have to worry about all the other plates spinning. After the first year, things got a little harder, we missed live shows intently and it started to affect our songwriting because we became so numb to experiencing anything new. Life felt repetitive but it challenged us all in a way we’ve never felt before, and that’s pretty engaging from an artists point of view. Everyone around us had different stories, hardship, euphoria, heartbreak, loneliness, new love – how can that not be inspiring?
And how did you guys meet, what sparked the interest in music?
Paul: We met at university back in the day; we studied music and Emma was the best singer on the course, so I was dying to ask her to be in a band with me. I thought she’d say no, so I waited until she was blind drunk – didn’t have to wait long – and thankfully, she said yes! Our interests were definitely different at the time – Emma was a jazz singer and I was a terrible rock guitarist. We started off doing awful covers of Hendrix and James Brown until we began writing our own songs, which are hopefully slightly less awful.
Do you guys have different creative inspirations, if so how do you go about collaborating?
Emma: We really have quite different tastes, but I think that’s what makes us sound like us. Paul loves new music; he lives in a world of synths, ambience and pop – a funky bass line all day every day while he nails ten thousand pancakes. Whereas he always says the melodies I make on my own sound like medical monk chants, so we’re quite far apart! I think I live in the world of older music a lot more; my dad surrounded me with eighties music, so I float around Kate Bush and Prince more than I probably should. I think in terms of collaborating we’re just both really open, which takes years of knowing someone to craft that kind of relationship – where there really is no fear, everything goes and there’s a willingness to let one another explore everything.
In terms of the writing, we don’t have a set routine, but more often than not Paul will come up with the chords, I work on the melodies and lyrics, we then build out the structure and Paul goes in ham on the production. Sometimes we start with a conversation, the melody or the bass, sometimes we take a section of a song we didn’t get quite right, take our favourite part and then build a new song out of it – there really is no set way for us!
And now you’ve just dropped your new single “Breathe”, what was your mindset going into it?
Emma: Well we had been in the studio writing quite a few sad ones about our breakups at that point, and this one stood out. It was inspired by laying next to someone in bed, laying in the silence and knowing it’s not working but holding onto the connection you had. The communication had completely broken down, and I had no idea what was going on in their head. It hurt me and I didn’t know how to handle it because I knew they were hurting too, we just couldn’t talk. It was scary to talk about those feelings, the desperation I felt in that moment, how we were both suffocating. We wrote it at the end of 2019 and it feels very strange but great to have it out in the world now!
And it’s an atmospheric dance-worthy track, was this intentionally done?
Paul: It wasn’t really, to be honest! It started off with just piano, vocal and the stripped-back beat to give it some drive – when it came to finishing off the production I wanted to build some dynamics throughout and just went a bit mental on the last chorus especially, and it did end up with that sort of chill dance vibe. The sounds are all quite dark as well, which leaves room for Emma’s voice over the top and it never really gets too in your face with anything. It’s quite nice when that happens though, to have something turn out a bit unexpected from the start point and push you into a new area, so we’re really happy with how it sounds!
What do you want people to take away from your music?
Emma: TEARS! We started making music because it’s capable of making us feel something. We’re able to channel our emotions into it, and so are other people. It brings people together through shared understanding and experiences and I think that’s what we have ultimately strived for, to create something that touches people, stirs an emotion, whether it’s a high or a low one. Building those connections as humans feels like the most valuable thing.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
Paul: We’ve got SO many songs to release, and that’s definitely tantalising my tastebuds at this current moment. We’re so unbelievably proud of the music we’ve made since lockdown and it’s such a good feeling to start putting it out so we’re basically just going to carry on until someone says we can’t anymore. We wanted to release like 30 songs all at once, but apparently, that’s not a good move according to people who have more brain cells than us so this way will have to do! Then there’s the obvious return of live shows – we had a taste of them again last year, and hopefully, this year will be full of touring and all the fun things that come with it like having no sleep and nailing McDonald’s at every service station in Europe. On a personal level, I’m hoping I can finally make it a full calendar year without having to replace my sunglasses about 7 times from sitting on them or losing them, but not really holding out for that one.