jellyskin are a band that has your full attention as soon as the first beat drops. Combining abrasive techno-beats and synthy krautrock, the Leeds duo are as captivating as they are unique. In the midst of working on an album, Zia Larty-Healy and Will Ainsley speak about the creative process behind their ever-evolving sound.
How would you describe the jellyskin sound?
Will: It’s hard to define because it changes so much. There’s a gentle lean towards the grand and the triumphant, I suppose.
Zia: At the moment I would say... plastic-y kraut pop with intertwining textures and a lot of moodiness. It’s really hard to describe your own music without sounding like Nigel Tufnel.
Your sound is definitely unique, especially to the Leeds scene. What inspires your sound?
W: It’s hard to pinpoint. I find that it’s mainly lyrics and production that are more influenced and influenceable than the music itself. My words have been influenced (among other things and people) by authors such as Italo Calvino or George Orwell, perhaps even James Joyce. These are all writers who can convey something arresting without resorting to purple prose. In terms of production, listening to something arranged in a certain way can make me rethink how to approach a problem.
Z: I think we’re inspired by our drive to be original, as we’re very conscious of not wanting our music to be compared to the same artists over and over again. I want to get to that point where people hear our music and instantly know that it’s us.
How do you work together on new tracks?
W: We used to never work on words together, but we’ve written a few together over the past few months. There’s no formula. I often have a backlog of little ideas that I like to try out whenever we write. For our newest song, Zia made a really chewy, ugly beat and then I kind of worked an old idea around that for an introduction. Then we just kind of experimented with different noises, then before we knew it the song had a kind of vague form.
Do you find making music and performing cathartic?
Z: Yes and no. Yes because it’s my favourite thing in the world, and no because when you care that much about something, you’re almost too stressed for it to be cathartic; being a perfectionist is a blessing and a curse (hello Nigel Tufnel again). But those moments when we hit on a promising idea or when we play a show and get a great reaction - that’s when it’s joyous. Sitting down with my synth or a piano or laptop to casually play around with ideas is always cathartic.
You’ve been gigging in Leeds for a while; where are your favourite places to play and why?
W: An obvious choice, but The Brudenell is our fave. We love going there, either on business or pleasure. It’s got hench sound, good atmosphere, everyone tends to be nice. We also had some really good shows at Belgrave.
Z: Definitely Wharf Chambers and Hyde Park Book Club [too], . Places like these are so important to ensure the music scene stays healthy and thriving.
Do you have any exciting plans coming soon?
W: We’ve been working on an album for around five or six months. We want to release it but we keep writing songs. We’ve got about seven finished, seven more in the production stage, and about four that are written but not recorded.
Z: While we work on the album, we’re fitting in a few select shows over summer: we have Long Division Festival coming up this weekend, the Nice People show (!) which we’re very excited for, as well as This Must Be The Place in August, which we’ve been wanting to play for ages as the lineup is always stellar!