Artist Spotlight: Ex People (or; How Two Ladies and Two Gents Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Doom)

I have this friend from Venezuela, and he is the most reliable person I know when it comes to music suggestions. Toward the end of 2017, he recommended this band to me, and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since. Read on!

Ex People is a heavy band from the UK comprised for two ladies and two gents who were friends prior to joining a band together, they just managed to get together and jam when they were all between bands. Singer Laura Kirsop (not to be confused with Christian Learning Centers podcaster of the same name) and drummer Vicki Dawson (who may or may not be the drummer for post-punk band Ghum) had met in the DIY scene playing together in various Riot Grrrl and noise rock bands.  Eventually, the pair rounded out the band with guitarist Calum Gunn (who may or may not be a Scottish born electronic musician based in Berlin… probably not, though) and bassist Edward White (who may or may not be an astronaut who died in 1967… probably not, though). White said, “We’ve all been friends for years, but on one overcast day in Hackney we collectively realized that there was not enough sludge in our lives.”

When we started off, we tried a few different things and aimed for a more noisy, droney and abrasive sound,” Dawson told Metal Hammer. “We just ended up moving toward the shorter structures and catchier stuff.” Kirsop added, “We’ve gradually almost given into our urges to write more traditional, accessible vocals and structures, which I think we were repressing a bit at the beginning.”

The group were not experienced in writing doom or psychedelic songs, but after getting music together that they thought was good enough, they started playing out and around London. Their first release, Loss, was released in May 2015 digitally and also as a limited edition black cassette. “The Erlenmeyer Flask” is the opening track, and it will find a new life on their debut album. This version is still worth listening to versus the album version, as this one is a little more off the cuff and extended a little bit at the end. The other two songs, “Jersey Devil” and “Pilot”, are worthy songs, but they are more primitive than what’s to come. They definitely earn their “doom” label here.

A digital EP of a show recorded in January 2016, was released March 1, 2016. Three of the four tracks are from the EP, and one of the songs will end up on their full length debut. It sounds… not great, but I think it’s because the source recording is pretty bad.

The band soon entered the studio to record what would, eventually, be their full-length debut album.  The group went into the studio and recorded four songs, and then was signed by Britain’s New Heavy Sounds label, who gave them the funding to go back into the studio and finish the album. “In total it was about 8 days of recording, so pretty compact,” Dawson said.

“We make doom songs about catcalling,” Kirsop says, “I draw on things that make me angry and I want to change, so a lot of it is positive about taking a stand despite the music being dark. I’m also obsessed with dystopian fiction, so I take inspiration from reality and fiction in equal doses.”

While the band cites Melvins, Neurosis, Harvey Milk and My War-era Black Flag as influences, those bands aren’t what you think about when you hear their record. On Bird, they hew closer to psychedelic fuzz than straight up doom, and the song lengths bear that out. What results is a fun record that’s heavy and a little noisy, but with soaring vocals and hooks that could almost be poppy.

“The Host” is a song about a woman and child fleeing domestic violence, while “Not a Drill” is a call to resist oppression.  Meanwhile, “Over” is about another planet colliding with Earth, so there’s your dystopian fiction (or is it?). Cheery stuff!

When asked what the band’s plan was for 2017, Kirsop said, “Get the album out there, play some great shows, perhaps a tour or two at some point… And, of course, keeping up with the usual practice of seances and ouija rituals. World domination – not a joke.”

Unfortunately, none of their social media has been updated since Bird’s release in 2017. I hope they aren’t finished, as this album is a favorite, recent go-to for me when I can’t think of anything else to listen to.

So check ‘em out!