Corasandel are an ambient-shoegaze band from Lincolnshire, England. They’re signed to independent label Shelflife Records in Portland, Oregon and have a new single out called ‘Cracked Light’. I caught up with the band to ask them about influences, lockdown, Shoegaze and how a band from Lincolnshire ended up on a label in Oregon…
First of all, can you tell us who you all are in the band and what do you play?
Mark – guitar, sing and hit lots of different things to see what noises they make.
Holly – bass, always looking to add a driving rhythm.
Jimmy – guitars, pedals and more pedals. Occasional backing vocals.
Chris – I play keys mostly, so synth, piano, organ and electronic experimentation are my thing.
How long have you been together as a band and how did you meet?
Mark – Not very long at all. Jimmy and I have been making music together under the name Corasandel since 2017… Holly & Chris are musical friends who’ve recently joined in, which we’re very excited about. We’ve probably only played together in the same room a handful of times so far.
Jimmy – We live in the same part of Lincolnshire and hang out here and there – you tend to gravitate towards people who you think it might be interesting to make music with. I’d met Mark a few times and then let slip that I had an electric guitar in my wardrobe. So he made me form a band with him. Thanks Mark.
Chris – I met Mark through our previous band Robots Found Errors and met Holly through Mark as she’s part of the music scene in Louth where I now live.
Your single, ‘Cracked Light’ is full of enigmatic charm and has a layered, dreamy soundscape. In your tunes, how do you go about creating mood and atmosphere?
Jimmy – It starts, as it often does, with a delay pedal. Just playing around, stacking multiple delays, seeing how far you can push the repeats. Delay is a really emotive effect. The pedals are where I get most of the ideas from for my guitar parts, the guitar is just the way to get to the pedals. Delay is where Cracked Light started – using a delay to create drones, pushing it to oscillation.
Chris – I’ve done soundtrack work on some short films recently, so I pull in influences from that when I work on mood. I think as soon as you start writing and get a few layers down the character of the piece starts to emerge by itself and it snowballs from there.
I can hear a lot of elements of genres and styles in your music, including Shoegaze and DreamPop. Which bands/artists do you consider as inspirations and influences? Are there any other non-musical inspirations you have, such as books, art or films?
Mark – I was listening to a lot of New Order at the time we were working on Cracked Light and other electronic based music like The Orb – was keen to try and get some of their atmospherics in the track.
Holly – I’m a massive Stone Roses fan, but more recently have been listening to bands like Heron Oblivion, Loma and Moon Duo, which I hope feeds into my bass style.
Chris – My influences are varied, but one I think is probably relevant and one that certainly springs to mind when I’m working on this kind of track is the Scottish electronic music duo Boards of Canada. Their music is full of mood and some wonderful sound design. They’ve always been great at creating this imagined nostalgia I think.
Jimmy – I’ve been getting lost in EAR, Sonic Boom’s ambient project, particularly the Beyond the Pale album. German band Brace/Choir are a perennial favourite, even though they only made one album. I love Hayley’s songs – Impossible Dream is one of my favourite albums and I also listen to a lot of soundtracks. Around the time we were writing and recording this I was playing Howard Shore’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings scores a lot. I’m always reading cyberpunk and I think that plays into the music as well – new worlds and horizons, trying to find something better. Books like Pat Cadigan’s Synners and Melissa Scott’s Trouble and Her Friends.
How did a band from Lincolnshire, England get signed to a record label in Portland, Oregon?
The wonder of the internet. We put a couple of singles out ourselves and they got a bit of coverage and radio play, then last year we put out an EP, which was the first time Chris and Holly came on board. Shelflife bought it and then said it would be cool to do something together. A few months later we sent them Cracked Light and then spent twenty-four hours pretending not to think about whether they liked it or not…until the email came back with the thumbs up. They’re a great label who have put out lots of bands that we listen to, so it’s a buzz to be part of them.
Although you have your own distinctive sound, there are nods to Shoe-gaze, DreamPop and ambient. I’ve noticed these days that these music genres especially are incredibly popular, more than they ever were and have massive online followings and huge communities dedicated to them. Have you any thoughts as to why this might be?
Chris – As someone that’s written ambient music, I think the public have gravitated towards that genre as a way to relax in recent times. With the current state of the world I think that has become incredibly important, we all need a chance to unwind.
Jimmy – I think now, because of the internet, people can create any kind of music they like and there is an audience for it. For me it’s one of the benefits of technology – you can make your music at home without an expensive studio, without a record deal, without a distributor and you can put it out there and see who listens. We’re blessed that music sites and blogs all over the world now give coverage to bands in many genres, rather than just a couple of magazines that guarded the gates pre-internet. In my mind shoegaze and ambient in particular are types of music that create emotion through sound, they can be all-encompassing and often explore music beyond verse-chorus-verse-chorus – that’s the attraction for me anyway. The online shoegaze community is really supportive, and we’ve met people virtually from all over the world – without the music and the technology to do that none of this would have happened.
During lockdown, have you had any band practices or new songs being developed for future releases, or have any of you worked on any music side projects?
Mark – Lockdown has provided different challenges for all of us, emotionally & financially. Keeping everyone safe and healthy has been the number one concern. Really enjoyed making the b-side to this single (Alaudidae) it was like a game of musical pass the parcel piecing it all together in isolation. Me personally I’ve been excited by a spout of new ideas/tunes experimenting with different tunings/arrangements. Looking forward to developing these with the band to see where it leads.
Holly – Personally, during isolation, recording Alaudidae (the B-side for Cracked Light) has been one of my most notable musical achievements. Jimmy came over one evening and sat with his laptop in the garden and fed the mic leads across the porch into the house. We got the bass line down in a couple of takes whilst the last few shafts of sunlight were shining through and swifts were wheeling above us; it was a moment I’ll never forget.
Chris – We created the B side by sending files back and forth, but no face to face band practices as we can’t access our practice room at the moment. We got a few other ideas going that way too that I’m sure will grow into full tracks. I also run a YouTube channel ‘Chris Lody Music’ so I’ve had a lot of time during lockdown to record lots of electronic music jams for that. Plus going back to what I was saying about ambient music, since the outbreak I spent some time compiling a free album of ambient music for my Bandcamp called ‘Proper Ambient Music’ so everyone gets a nice dose of blissful electronics to chill out to.
After lockdown is over and music venues start to reopen, have you any plans of playing live and/or touring?
Mark – Been missing just meeting up and jamming with my friends for starters. I’d love Corasandel to get a live set together and start playing gigs. We’ll have to see when things start happening again but once live music does return there’s def going to be a massive euphoria for which I’m sure we can’t quite imagine yet!
Holly – really excited about getting back to gigging. We’ve found a fantastic disused church out in the Lincolnshire marshes which will be a great venue for some soaring shoegaze reverberations.
Finally, what advice would you give to an unsigned band in getting signed to an Indie label like you have?
Keep going, stay positive and friendly. There’s so much good music out there and labels, promoters, blogs, DJs etc… are busy people receiving mountains of emails. Be patient, be kind, know that not everyone is into everything so take the time to find the people that are into you, but make sure you pay it forward when you do – there are enough ears out there for all music. Make as much music as you can, record and upload whatever you can and chat to like-minded people as often as you can. If you’re passionate enough you’ll get through to the right people eventually!
And buy three delay pedals.