Islandis chat recording gear/process, and how the duo’s latest single release Lost & Found, literally got lost and then found.
There’s no one formula we stick to with our songwriting. Some start from something as simple as a chord pattern, often laid down with the closest instrument in arm’s reach. Whether that be on a guitar, cheap keyboard or some fancy VST preset, there’s always a certain feeling it has to give us to want to pursue an idea further.
Lost & Found began as a voice memo sent to James from Vocalist and one half of the Islandis duo, Ben McInerney.
It was a really rough vocal and bass line played on an acoustic but I was instantly drawn to it, says James.
We then started demoing Lost & Found plus a few others a while back on a writing trip away.
But before we got a chance to really bring it to life on our return we encountered devastating bushfires rolling through our hometown which took our home studio at the time.
It left our community and our families in disarray.
After that followed closely by a pandemic we thought surely there was light at the end of the tunnel.
But my Apple Mac I was demoing on at the time had other plans. Every musician’s greatest fear. The screen of death. A power surge caused us to lose the last 5 years’ worth of recordings and demos. It was almost the last straw for me, I had lost all motivation to create. Not knowing where or even if I wanted to start again.
Fast forward to about 6 months ago when I found an old dusty MacBook I used to work on years back.
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The first thing I found on the hard drive was the bass line that we had demoed whilst we were on our writing trip. It was titled ‘Lost & Found’. I thought it had to be a sign… I knew at that moment this was the first piece to the puzzle of putting this song back together and the rest is history.
Recording Process And Gear Used To Make Lost & Found
Our new single and everything we’ve ever done has gone through my Universal Audio Apollo Interface and into my MacBook.
The drums are a real cocktail of my favourite samples gathered over the years which I build the beats into the session hit by hit. We then layered upon at a later stage in the production with live drum elements to give the feels.
I also finished the record off by hitting every piece of percussion I can find around the room and splicing it all together. Some staples are my egg shakers, percussion blocks and tambourines.
My trusty Fender Strat was my go-to on this record. It just does everything I need.
I find myself multi-layering a lot electric guitar chordal stuff we with my Cole Clark Angle Acoustic guitar also, it just sounds too beautiful not to.
I don’t have any fancy analogue synths and have never really felt the need for them with our sound and the way I work. Nor have I ever had the space. I’m usually just moving quick sifting through vst presets of all the iconic synths until a sound jumps out then I’ll play it in with MIDI and tweak it into something a little more our own using effects or my guitar pedals.
My teenage engineering OP-1 made an appearance on this track with a fair bit of soundscapey stuff.
Jazz bass with flat wound strings for the win every time. I plug straight into the UA interface and go from there. Usually doesn’t need much more than that.
I love cheap keyboards. Especially throwing them in the mix with shiny virtual synthesisers. I think it creates a nice balance.
I used a Yamaha I found on a chuck out on this track as well as an old Casio I borrowed from a friend.
Our vocals can be a combination of microphones found on our records. We’ve used Shure 57’s, SM7’s and RODE condensers at times to achieve what we need.
This time around Ben sang into the Warm Audio take on the U47 and it came through with the goods.
We record them all at home, most often in a bedroom with blankets thrown around for extra deadness. Comfortable environments have always been key for us.
Behind The Lyrics
Put simply it’s about finding yourself by ending toxic friendships
I need fresh and trusted ears and at the end of every track,
after working on every instrument through the entire process it can be quite fatiguing so we brought in Adrian Breakspear, an amazing mixer whom we’ve worked with in the past to take Lost & Found all the way.
You can now stream Lost & Found via Spotify below.