IONA SKY talk ‘Savior’, perfectionism and life’s simple pleasures

Ever been caught in the middle of warring friends or couples? Well, IONA SKY know that feeling all too well.

Earlier this month, the trio were caught in the crossfire of a feud on Savior, a country-flecked, pop rock cut that served as their second-ever single.

Drawing from a broad palette of indie and punk with a singer-songwriter’s flair, IONA SKY lamented being everyone else’s shoulder to cry on — to the detriment of their own wellbeing. 

IONA SKY single 'Savior'

To elaborate on this universal tale, we caught up with IONA SKY — composed of vocalist Anna-Sophia Henry, guitarist Simon Jupp and keyboardist James Malone — to dive deep into Savior’s genesis, the importance of “a gin or two,” and that pesky quality of being a perfectionist.

Scroll down for our complete interview with IONA SKY, and listen to their latest single Savior below. 

HAPPY: What are you up to today?

IONA SKY: The three of us are actually away at a writing retreat this weekend to finish composing some new material! We’re staying in a barn in the countryside eating traditional British and American delicacies. And a gin or two.

HAPPY: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods? 

IONA SKY: We all reside in Cambridgeshire currently, but we have a Geordie, a Welshman, and a Kansan (USA) among our crew. Cambridge is a charming, vibrant, historic town with a surprising amount of music opportunities.

Being a major college town, the live music scene is pretty sick and the local radio plays a fairly active role in supporting it. 

IONA SKY single 'Savior'

HAPPY: Describe an average day?

IONA SKY: Since our average days are all a bit chaotic at the moment (hence why we’re on the retreat), today was a good day. We woke up in stunning Norfolk, England.

We ate pancakes and had loads of coffee to fuel our creative minds. But before creative work, we went thrifting to the local charity shops where Anna bought a new hat.

We have now been working on polishing some works in progress to prepare for our tour and eventual EP launch in spring of 2024.

IONA SKY single 'Savior'

HAPPY: Can you tell us a bit about how IONA SKY came together as a band? What brought each of you to pursue music together? 

IONA SKY: James and Simon were already in an established band, Shambertans, and Anna-Sophia was a former EDM artist who was looking to perform live, when our paths miraculously crossed via Facebook.

They began practising in January of 2023, and started performing in July opening for the pop/rock band, X Ambassadors.

HAPPY: How does the creative process typically unfold within the band? Are there specific rituals or routines that help in the collaborative songwriting process?

IONA SKY: It usually begins with James or Anna-Sophia sending a new demo to the group chat and everyone takes a stab at it until it becomes a full length song.

Because of our different musical backgrounds, it’s been fun figuring out how to merge the two sounds into one final project. 

HAPPY: Can you share some of the key musical influences that have shaped the sound of  IONA SKY?

IONA SKY: As a band, we love Wolf Alice, The Killers, Billie Eilish, and Declan McKenna. Simon and James like classic British indie while Anna-Sophia likes bedroom pop artists like Billie Eilish.

HAPPY: “Savior” is your second release, following the debut single “Better.” How would you say your sound has evolved since your first release, and what new elements did you intentionally bring into “Savior”?

IONA SKY: Savior is more of the rock side of our personality, while Better was more poppy. It’s a bit more intense and upbeat with some heavier guitar lines, but it still has a lot of pop influences in there, especially in the final production method used. 

HAPPY: Did you work with a producer on “Savior,” and if so, how did that collaboration influence the final product? What qualities do you look for in a producer, and how do they contribute to your sound?

IONA SKY: We did work with a producer, David Davis, from LA. David brough an element of LA pop to the track which you can hear in the final mix.

Typically, we look for a producer who has worked with musicians in the same sort of genre but also allows us to bring our own sound to the studio. 

HAPPY: Every recording process comes with its own set of challenges. What were some challenges you faced during the recording of “Savior,” and how did you overcome them?

IONA SKY: We have some perfectionists in our band and reaching the point where the song is considered ‘done’ can be a challenge. It’s something a lot of artists we know struggle with. We’re trying to get better at not overthinking the final mix!

HAPPY: After the initial recording, how involved are you in the post-production process, such as mixing and mastering? Do you have specific preferences or goals when it comes to the final sound of your tracks?

IONA SKY: While we don’t personally mix and master tracks, we know what sound we’re aiming for so might have a lot of opinions. 

HAPPY: Are there specific pieces of studio gear or recording technology that played a crucial role in shaping the sound of “Savior”? How do you balance analog and digital elements in your recording process?

IONA SKY: We love a good Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 soundcard (Anna calls it a soundcard, we know that’s not what it actually is).. Simon and James have an array of pedals that really make the IONA SKY watermark.

We’re careful with synth. Anna and James both play keys so we try to balance not overpowering the guitar sound with too much key work. Vocal hormones are a big part of what we do both live and in the studio so we take time to perfect those. 

IONA SKY single 'Savior'

HAPPY: Lastly, what makes you happy?

IONA SKY: We are simple creatures. We love spending time with each other and with our friends and family who are big supporters of what we do.

We love a glass of wine, a bag of crisps, and a seaside walk. We love seeing live music as well as composing; seeing a song from the demo stage through to live performance and recording is also pretty heartwarming!