Ode to Sleep – Art as Activism – We now have a sound that we didn’t know we needed or wanted until we heard it.

Ode to Sleep released their first EP – Night Terrors in July 2020 and there’s another one (nearly) in the can. The duo make quite the racket, which of course, means we’re fully on board.

First encountered on the CPRW Music Venue Trust comp, Ode to Sleep were a stand out contributor.

Knowing little about the band, it seemed only right we should find out more about them, their music and their message.

With a noise that could fill an arena, we’ll confess to being a bit surprised to learn there are only the two of them. Liz on bass & vocals and Jade on drums.

Their 2020 EP, Night Terrors, out on INiiT Records – Is No ‘I’ In Team on is a hard hitting, fast paced, heavy brute of a thing from a band with much to sing about the ills of the world.

Undaunted, we pressed on and caught up with them on Zoom (yeah, you know that bit, by now).

P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?

Liz: I’m in Westgate-on-Sea. Currently trying to open a packet of iron supplement because I’ve been feeling a little bit under the weather. I’ve got it here with some peach juice.

Jade: I’m in Wingham, in Kent. Currently trying to fight off the cat who wants to join this meeting. And drinking alcohol free beer because I’m doing Dry January.

Liz: Me too. It sucks.

P3dro: We’re not, we’re doing alcohol January.

Liz: Can you do one for us?

P3dro: Tell us a bit about the band. How did you get together?

Jade: We’ve both been in other bands in Kent. We did the classic vegan thing – we’re both vegan and we met [online]. I was looking for a band and so was Liz. It was October 2019 – we’d met online and then we met [IRL] and we started practising.

Both of us have very different musical tastes, but everything comes together and makes weird. It’s hard to describe. [Liz] describes it as ‘Art as Activism, it’s a grungey, garagey sound, which kind of works really well and we’re kind of enjoying it.

P3dro: When you say you have different musical tastes, who likes what?

Jade: I’d say I’m more on the punk rock spectrum, whereas Liz is more into a kind of heavy, thrashy, metally taste.

Liz: Yeah, I listen to everything from Slipknot and KoЯn to Johnny Cash to K-Pop. But if I like it, then I’ll listen to it.

Jade: We’re quite eclectic, I guess.

Liz: Yeah, that’s kind of how we write as well. We think: “Yeah, that’s fun, let’s do that”.

Jade: [Liz] will have a rough idea of sections for tracks and then we think, yeah, we will put these together. ‘Call To Action’ is probably a really good example of that. It has different sections and we’re thinking: “How are we going to put that together?” I think we managed it.

When we first started, it felt like we were writing really quickly. In the first 6 months we had a full set and the first EP recorded. This time round, I think we’ve refined the sound a bit and we’re a bit heavier and a bit more grungey. We’re taking longer to get songs we’re happy with.

P3dro: How have the last few months been? Have you managed to get together to record?

Jade: Oh, yeah, there is that! That may explain why it’s taken longer to record the second EP. But, because there’s only the two of us we were able to get into the studio between lockdowns and carry on. Liz did a few solo online sessions.

Liz: During the first lockdown I got furloughed, so I was thinking: “Right, I can start writing, this is great”, so we did start writing the EP earlier in the year and then used practice to mould the songs. Anything that’s created in one of our heads is very much only half formed before we can meet and play it out to see what it sounds like.

This is the first band I’ve done vocals in. I still can’t say “singer”. I don’t know why, I just can’t. I’m a bassist by trade, so it’s all a massive learning curve. But that’s making it really fun for us.

P3dro: Where does the name [of the band] come from?

Jade: Oh, gosh, we spent ages. WhatsApping ideas to each other. But the name is from a song by twenty øne piløts. The meaning of that song is about the troubles of mental health and being afraid of the night. It had a pull that I liked and fitted in with some of the stuff we were writing.

Liz: Yeah, we went through a lot of stupid names, such as Vegan Meal Deal and Tofu Tantrums. Some were funny and some were OK, but when Jade suggested Ode to Sleep, then I felt like we related to it and it had a bit of substance to it.

P3dro: For a two piece, with bass and drums you manage to make quite a racket. Particularly, if we were listening to the music without knowing anything about the band we’d be convinced there’s a guitar in there.

Jade: When we first started we were a three piece with Liz on vocals and a guitar and drums. And no bass. And we’d originally recorded that way. So then we had to re-record the EP.

Liz: The bass has a heavy fuzz and a slight octave as well so it does have a guitar frequency as well the bass, so it sounds really big.

Jade: So, we’ve practised and done the recording, but we haven’t yet done a gig as just us. So, that’s one of the things we’re really keen to do, to see how big we can make the sound.

Liz: The lockdown has been really interesting creatively, particularly the first one. When everyone had hope! We’d just received the master of the first EP, with a guitar and no bass. And then we’d decided to be a two piece, but we couldn’t go back to the studio, yet we desperately wanted to release the EP.

So we contacted our producer and he said: “Record it at home, send it to me and I’ll plot it all in”. We had to re-write the bass completely. We’ve still got the old version of the EP, but it’s very different. It’s an interesting contrast, but I think we’ve grown from it. We now have a sound that we didn’t know we needed or wanted until we heard it.

That was a really nice thing to have come out from a time when we were all thinking: “What the hell is happening?”

P3dro: What’s the ethos of the band? Is there any particular message?

Liz: Yes! Many messages. We’re both vegan and environmentally pro-active, I’d say. We try and put what we believe in through our music. That’s why we call it “Art as Activism“.

This is our channel and our medium to deliver messages. Mostly animal rights and environmental change, but also human rights, feminism, equality in general. Progressive thinking for a better tomorrow.

Jade: I just let Liz write the lyrics and I play the drums!

Liz: It’s hard to stay upbeat when we talk about things about which we’re angry or frustrated, or sad about. So, there are some things we have on the back burner because I need to get over them emotionally first before I can start singing them. We have lots of ideas, but the ones that are coming first are the ones I can take on emotionally.

I also feel like we have to be quite brave, because few people agree with us. We’re two women in a male dominated industry. And, then we’re [banging on] about feminism and animal rights.

P3dro: What kind of reaction do you get to that type of message?

Liz: It’s mostly been positive, so far.

Jade: We’re playing to the right people, the ones who are like-minded. Whether or not they necessarily agree with veganism, I think they can take on the message if they like the style of the music. They can still enjoy it.

Liz: I was expecting more defensive people, if that’s the right word. If people feel attacked by what I’m saying, then they must feel there’s some truth in it. I feel many vegans are treading on egg shells, because you want to have a good impact, but you don’t want to make people hate you. So, there’s a balance to be had there. Offering up the information if people want it, but not shouting at them.

Jade: We think positive reinforcement is the way to engage with people.

Liz: Yet. Those feelings are there and I can’t help it. I guess that’s why the songs are the way they are. With any kind of injustice you feel is happening, it’s very hard to keep quiet.

Jade: It’s about a nudge theory, rather than getting in people’s faces.

Liz: Any positive thing you can do for any person, or any animal, is good.

P3dro: What plans are there for further releases after the Night Terrors EP?

Liz: We’re very nearly ready, I think, for our second EP.

Jade: It was meant to have been done already.

Liz: There’s another song that needs to happen. We’re aiming for four originals and a cover. We were going to record in December, which got pushed to January, which got pushed to whenever. But that will give us the time to write the fourth original, which will exist at some point, just not yet.

Jade: At the moment, trying to put a date on anything is a bloody nightmare, so if we can get into the studio in spring, then great, but if not then …

P3dro: Recommend a band or an album you think we should be listening to right now.

Jade: Bike Thiefs. They’re a Canadian post punk trio and they released an album last year called ‘Leaking’. They are one of those bands where, with every track, I’m hooked. It’s a really good, catchy album. They have this kind of angsty guitar sound. So, check them out.

Liz: It’s an EP from our record label brothers, High Visions, called ‘A First Date With Imposter Syndrome’. It’s super summery, really high energy and great harmonies. It just reminds me of being a young teenager, hanging out at the skatepark with my older brother and his friends, who were so cool and I was just this little, geeky thing. Amazing drums. The whole thing is just great.

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