Whether performing at SxSW or dropping slyly observational singles on Bandcamp, Estrons stand tall. Formed in 2013 by singer Tali Källström and guitarist Rhodri Daniel, the Cardiff band have developed a reputation for updating hackneyed alt-rock tropes into needling songs, that turn sedate February club nights into fully fledged riots.
From September, the group will tour the country’s motorways to support their upcoming studio debut, You Say I’m Too Much, I Say I’m Not Enough. Exeposé chatted to Tali on email to discuss the band’s upcoming debut, creativity, and their tips for making the most of life on the road.
the Cardiff band have developed a reputation for updating hackneyed alt-rock tropes into needling songs
Congratulations on finishing your new album! Could you tell us a little about what went into its composition, and what fans and newcomers should expect?
It’s a collective of songs we’ve written over the past few years. Some very new, some very old. It’s a snapshot in time for us and reflects the musical evolution we went through up until now in some sense. So expect a journey.
What inspired you to form Estrons?
We felt quite alienated from the Welsh language scene in a sense. We had some Welsh songs but as I don’t necessarily think or feel in Welsh, I just stopped caring and wrote in English. “Estrons” is actually a bit of a cross of an English and Welsh word meaning “misfits” or “strangers” so the irony is in the name.
How important was it to spend time finding your sound and gathering the right people so the group could be successful?
The line-up changed for lots of different reasons, personal reasons, creative reasons, real-life-needing-to-get-a-stable-job-reasons. We were lucky because when our last bassist left our producer, who helped us get our sound, agreed to join us, but it wasn’t a premeditated act. However, everything is a matter of cause and effect that manifests itself in the end. We’re very happy now.
How challenging is it to support yourself on music in 2018, especially as a young alternative group?
There is a lot of support for musicians through organisations such as PRSF (The Performing Rights Foundation, a charity that has invested over £29 million into new musical projects since 2000). I don’t know what you could change. It’s become very easy for anyone to take up an instrument and form a band so it has become quite saturated and it seems like the media is obsessed with the word “new”. However, I think if something is good enough, you would hope that it will shine through and stand the test of time.
How would you describe your creative process as a group? Is the starting point a lyric, a riff, or a general feeling?
Usually a riff. I have books and receipts and sometimes limbs and walls covered in lyrics and usually, it’ll be whatever the feel of the music presents the melody is then birthed. Then, once you’ve had a listen to it, you name the sounds with your lyrics and what it is that you feel about it. Sort of like naming a newborn baby.
I’d love to talk to you about ‘Cameras’. What was the thinking behind this change of pace?
It’s a love song for my son, but it still keeps on the theme of maddening. It’s a song about people trying to break me down and break my relationship with my son, and it’s a type of defiance of that. So it’s still pretty angry. We have the ability to create all sorts of feelings all sorts of moods as humans and as musicians, we like to reflect that in the songs.
everything is a matter of cause and effect that manifests itself in the end
Your music videos always have a unique aesthetic – the home video style on ‘Make a Man’, the confrontational single take close up in ‘Lilac’. How involved are you in creating your visuals?
Both ideas for those videos came from us, and we always like to keep a very strong sense of creative control. We don’t want to be represented in any other way than who we are and if we find the video misrepresents or doesn’t drive the music in the right way then it doesn’t go out until it’s ready.
A lot of your lyrics, especially in ‘Glasgow Kisses,’ tell stories about rash, impulsive feelings from a female point of view. To what extent do you think the female perspective on sexuality and adolescence is overlooked by alternative music?
Actually, ‘Glasgow Kisses’ is written from both the male and female perspectives, a different one in each verse. I think everything is about equality and inclusion. Of course, we all have different experiences about what gender we identify as, but I try and remove stigma and allow us to move forward and show that we are in fact, all as powerful or as powerless as each other. Sometimes I have felt like the “male” in a situation and that’s been stigmatised. Sometimes a man has felt like the “female”. But that’s what happens when we remove the prejudices of gender and allow people just to be, no matter how they identify. We are all different in different situations and that is completely natural.
Your influences are very wide-ranging, stretching from Missy Elliot to Elliot Smith and the Beatles to the opera. How important do you think it is for pop bands to incorporate attitudes and sounds from different genres like Hip-Hop into their work?
I don’t think it’s important at all. I think as long as you are remaining true to yourself, never trying to be anything you are not. If you want to start a Coldplay cover band because you just really love Coldplay, go for it. There are no rules in art as long as you aren’t trying to please anyone for the sake of it.
What has been the most memorable experience of the current tour so far?
Spending time with the members of Pussy Riot was very, very insightful.
Tell me, what does an Estrons rider look like, and what are your tips for surviving while on the road?
We aren’t quite on 25 white roses and a vintage Evian water showers yet, but things I always bring are turmeric, slippery elm and propolis. I’ll barely bring any clothes because we never have time to change. Rhodri always brings nail clippers and nail varnish, not to dress up, but just to keep his grip tight for playing. Hot tip.
Who have you been listening to for inspiration between shows?
Les Butcherettes, Kendrick Lamar, Future of the Left. Sometimes I’ll put headphones in and listen to Verdi’s La Traviata or someone like Chavela Vargas just to really get those emotions flowing. Or I’ll just get a text from someone I can’t stand and argue with them for a bit to get me riled up for a show – that’s always a good one.
Are there any new artists that you think Estrons fans should be checking out?
Idles, Honeyblood, Our Girl, Boy Azooga, Amazing Snakeheads. Lots of good stuff there.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity