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Getting To Know: Aqualine




1. Aqualine's sound is often described as explosive yet melancholy alternative rock, drawing inspiration from a diverse range of genres such as shoegaze, grunge, hip-hop, and experimental ambience. How do you navigate this eclectic mix of influences to create a cohesive and distinctive sound that resonates with your audience?"


We draw inspiration from our favourite genres which is sort of how we ended up falling into the sound we have. We love how some grunge/shoegaze or alternative rock will have a slow-ish tempo which can be similar to hip-hop, they both give off a similar vibe with attitude at times so that was a way through for us to start mixing trap-esk rhythms with more alternative rock guitar arrangements. Then there is the ambience and more shoegaze side that we try to bring in. I think it comes from listening to lots of atmospheric music and shoegaze and finding interesting ways to make it, limiting ourselves to using only guitars with things like chopsticks and paintbrushes to create synth-like tones. The challenge is to blend our raw guitar energy whilst also keeping the mainstream pop-like sound that we use in production. Some songs of ours do it in a more subtle way than others but I think it's just trial and error of going for what fits the song best and showing it in the best light possible, and we seem to be getting the cohesive blend right more and more with every song.


2. "The band is known for embedding raw and live elements into your layered studio sound, creating an energetic and immersive experience for your audience during live shows. How do you approach translating the complexity of your recorded sound into a captivating live performance?"


I think to start with it comes from each song being written to have 5 main parts: vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, drums and bass. I think doing this allows us to still be able to transfer the core elements of the song live, whilst naturally sounding more raw. We also use loop pedals and different effects to build atmosphere within our shows which helps in getting more of a layered sound. The main force of energy is delivered from our raw guitars and effects whilst incorporating layered and pretty sections which help replicate the studio sound. Ben (vocalist) uses a vocal effects pedal with a foot switch, this makes it handy to have it positioned with their guitar pedalboard, frequently using reverb and distortion noises in the set to add a modern varied sound to the vocals live. An active choice has to be made with a lot of our songs about how differently they need to be voiced in comparison to the studio recording for them to convey their best live. For example, we found more hype energy when using the acoustic drum kit live as opposed to the trap drum samples used on the released version of our latest single "Fish Alive".


3. "Your debut EP, 'Lurker,' showcases a variety of styles, staying true to Aqualine's unique sound by blending multiple genres. Can you take us through the creative process behind the EP, and how each band member contributes to shaping the sonic landscape of the project?


So the EP started with Patrick (lead guitar) cultivating a set of demos in their bedroom using various demo guitar recordings and arrangements, assembling them on Ableton and finding the backbone. Then Ben (vocalist) added vocal melodies and lyrics and the two developed the songs acoustically, forming the structure of 6 or more songs. Then they took the songs to the band with a basic 5 piece arrangement to test how they sound, allowing each member to develop the intricacies of their own part. After workshopping them to ensure they conveyed what they needed to, the band worked them into our live shows where we learned more about each song. Amid the period of live trialling the songs a member of the recording studio 'Zonkey Studios' was in the crowd of our London gig in March 2022, in love with our sound they approached us offering to record at their studio in Vienna. It took 2 separate trips for Ben and Patrick to nail the ep in Vienna with Zonkey, adding elements from the original demos and recording developed parts from their live arrangement. After this some more experimental features were added like Patrick's chopstick and paintbrush in songs like Fish Alive, adding dissonant and ambient textures to the music.


We think the mixing process became the hardest part as it was finding the balance between all of the influences and how we wanted to present the work as a project but also individual songs. But we got there thanks to Zonkey Studios haha, however, each member is integral to adding and making sure their part and the whole song sounds as it needs to. 



4."Aqualine's singles, including 'Looking Dead,' have received recognition from the likes of Steve Lamaq on BBC 6, and your unique blend of genres has garnered attention for pushing creative boundaries. How do you approach pushing your own limits while maintaining a sound that remains true to Aqualine's identity?"


By mixing all the genres in one pot that we are inspired by, off the bat we already have a vast sound. But we try to box ourselves into only using our instruments and analogue effects available. So for example with 'Fish Alive' we wanted to make a hype guitar song with hip-hop rhythms and alternative elements. So by limiting ourselves to just guitars it meant that it would sound unique as the song would have an interesting arrangement and the guitars would sound slightly different to normal guitars as we were trying to get different sounds out of them. This means that the song hopefully sounds unique and sounds like "Aqualine", and with the lyrics being about modernity and mental health it becomes relatable to the everyday life we live in. This crazy genre blend expresses our feelings and reflects how busy our lives/minds have become in everyday life, and hopefully, we have managed to do that in our own approachable way. The biggest goal is to successfully make our own genre that's not been done before, at least to some degree.


Sometimes we’ll wake up and just want to make a heavy vibe shoegaze song, but not before long we fall into our natural habit of adding sections that bring different elements from different types of music, which is why we struggle to get on playlists, curators tend to prefer songs that stick with one vibe/genre the whole way through. Patrick and Ben (songwriters) are always saying how we couldn't just make one genre as we think we would probably get bored or feel too stuck or limited by it so we take ideas from all over the place just because it's more for-filing for us which is probably a bad thing haha but then I think everyone does it to an extent. Who knows what we will be making in 5 years, we almost struggle to keep a consistent sound year by year.


5. "The EP takes listeners on a journey through all seven songs, both musically and lyrically. Could you share some insights into the thematic and lyrical inspirations behind 'Lurker,' and how these elements contribute to the overall narrative of the EP?"


Lurker revolves around this theme of conflicting intrusive thoughts and 'voices' that at times can bring you down. 'Ben' our lyricist and singer found a natural path of an emotional storyline or journey through the songs in Lurker. Dancing around his intrusive thoughts of self-doubt and depression-fighting against the optimistic challenger of the ego, Lurker's journey is meant to reflect the teenage mind going through life and coping with all it’s societal pressures which happen to always hang over you, haunt you, or ‘Lurk’. Opening with Fish Alive, a demonic depiction of uncontrollable intrusive thoughts slowly getting worse, the next song on the ep and simultaneously the next single due in January 'No Answer' revolves around a catchy hook about 'trying to make it'. Reflecting a desire to escape both the physical environment and claustrophobic mindset, this song is the inner voice calling out, asking for a change.


The EP then adventures into a moment of triumph in ‘Tomb’, where we confront the voices and feel we defeated the toxic mindset. But not before long we fall back into the polluted frame, this exhausting cycle of picking yourself up and falling down makes for an emotional breakdown in the middle 8 of ‘Overthinker’. Before the close of the Ep we then experience a more mature reflection on past relationships and emotions from Ben in ‘Flower Bed’, a moment where we think we've "Made it out", but as the final lyrics of the closing song 'Better Off' in case, "It'll never be over".


6. "Aqualine has been praised for defying genre-specific clichés and embracing a raw and archaic craziness that feels pure and cultural. How does this philosophy shape your approach to songwriting and production, and how do you see it influencing the evolution of your sound in future releases?"


I think having a body of work like the EP that can showcase our sound will make it easier for listeners to get into. Sometimes it can be crazy how people react to our sound like in Vienna the guys at the studio love it, also at some shows we have been getting encores, people really seem to dig our fresh sound, and it’s exciting. But of course, some people might not grasp it or feel they connect to it, I think from the writer’s perspective I feel we can make much better songs with more of a refined blend of styles which is what we are looking to do in our next EP. This time I feel we can deliver it better as we have done it before and we’ve learnt what’s working. Taking all the music that inspires us right now and injecting it into our foundation sound, whilst simultaneously refining a more polished and coherent style, we’re confident the next EP will be a lot better. We want to keep the elements we have now and try to present it in a more mainstream way. Artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Dominic Fike really excite us as they are releasing mainstream music with grunge-style guitars and hip-hop elements, paving the way for our sound to hopefully blossom. With drawing in more abstract processes and bold creative decisions, it will help give the project emotional depth and more unique content for listeners to get into. 


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