She’s In Parties are taking a bracingly modern approach to shoegaze
How do She’s In Parties – Colchester’s new answer to hazy shoegaze heroes Cocteau Twins – come together to write a song? Gather around; from his slightly pixelated Zoom square, bassist Charlie Johnson is about to spill all…
“[Our music] starts with a fist fight,” he says, deadpan. The rest of the band – vocalist Katie Dillon, guitarist Herbie Wiseman and drummer Matt Carman – burst into laughter. “We’re just like family,” adds Zoom user Swagman1111 – sorry, er, Dillon. “We treat each other just like siblings!”
She’s In Parties were brought together by Dillon, who “recruited” the lads after deciding she wanted to start a band. “I only really knew Herbie, because we went to school together,” she explains. “The rest of the guys lived in Colchester, I didn’t know any of them. It was like, ‘We’re gonna have to get to know each other!’,” she adds. “But then it became super awesome making music together.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing from the beginning, though. Only a few months after forming, the pandemic hit, forcing the band back into their respective childhood homes. While that may have temporarily stalled their creative endeavours, they were determined not to let it stifle their blossoming friendship. They quickly realised they have something special between them: “We’ve all collectively got like, two brain cells.” Herbie jokes. “When we’re all together, we make a lot of stupid jokes. Once we realised we were all like that it was kinda like, ‘Ah OK, you guys get it!’”
If they’re only sharing two brain cells, then those brain cells are enviable. Influenced by an array of musical eras – spanning from Paramore and American Football to more whimsical pop and shoegaze acts of the ‘80s – She’s In Parties offer something refreshing in the UK’s underground music scene. With their dreamy soundscapes, emotionally candid lyrics, and use of vocal reverb, they stand out in a space that is currently saturated with sprechgesang-type post-punk bands. They are smart in new and inventive ways: thoughtful layers of sounds are weaved together to create textured that are immersive and compelling.
Lyrically, they’re sincere and honest, with the topics of their songs rooted in real experiences. Take ‘Summer Haze’, for example – it depicts the type of panic attack reserved only for when you’re 17 and about to discover your tolerance for weed isn’t quite as high as you once thought. Dillon’s breathless vocals spiral around the dreamy and distant guitar riff, mirroring the dizzy hyper-awareness that foreshadows a paranoid whitey.
The band’s debut EP, ‘End Scene’ (due October 6), is filled with imagery of core teenage experiences. Wiseman describes how the band’s intention was to write “an ’80s coming-of age soundtrack”, and ‘End Scene’ has it all: from the melodramatic woes of adolescent love (‘L Word’) to the sobering realisation that you’re older and wiser than you were at the beginning (‘Velvet Teen’).
Johnson explains that they “were basing the imagery around The Breakfast Club” for the entire EP, “especially ‘Velvet Teen’”. Dillon adds that with that track in particular, the band “really wanted to create that sense of nostalgia, like a film.” The narrative arc of the EP is “a lot about figuring stuff out,” hence the change in mood from one track to the next: “In ‘L Word’, I say, ‘Oh it’s hard to say the L Word’, then in ‘Velvet Teen’ I’m like, ‘I love you’ and you’re like, ‘Wait, what does that mean?’”
Herbie continues: “When we were writing ‘Velvet Teen,’ I remember sitting there and thinking, ‘Man, this is a song that would end one of those coming-of-age films.’ So having that at the end of the EP and ‘L Word’ being the second song in, it kind of feels like there’s character growth,” he explains. “‘Velvet Teen’ is the big ending to the EP, and the sort of pinnacle to that nostalgic feeling.”
Though they’re heavily influenced by the past, the four-piece are equally keen to show their enthusiasm about their peers, lots of whom they believe are shaking up the alternative rock scene. Among their favourites are Lime Garden and NewDad, with the former in particular inspiring the chorus of ‘Summer Haze’.
Others they admire include those they’ve shared stages with; the likes of The Last Dinner Party, Picture Parlour and Oslo Twins, which Wiseman describes as “a bunch of cool new bands that are difficult to put in a box.” Each of these artists has a distinct sound, independent from one another, yet their innovative approaches to new and old sounds alike inexplicably links them. ‘End Scene’ may well place She’s In Parties right there amongst those acts; it’s an exciting debut that hints at a fresh new sound brewing within the UK’s musical landscape.
She’s In Parties’ debut EP ‘End Scene’ will be released on October 6 via Submarine Cat Records