Last month, listeners discovered just how hard it is to pin down German trio The First Eloi.
Tracing quintessential post-core to blissful shoegaze, their latest EP Low Glow reads like a middle-finger to the reductiveness of genre, with traces of punk and ethereal soft-rock to boot.
It’s exactly that expansive and sonically diverse sound that makes Low Glow such an enthralling collection, only helped along by instrumentalists Rolf and Lorenz and the ethereal vocals of bandmate Enid.
Fresh off the release of Low Glow, we caught up with Rolf and Enid of The First Eloi for a deep-dive into the EP’s creation, the influence of ‘90s shoegaze and Weezer, and the sonic anchor of “hypnotic guitar noise.”
Catch the full interview with The First Eloi below, and scroll down to listen to their new EP Low Glow.
Happy: What are you up to today?
Rolf: At the moment we are trying to promote our EP, we are contacting bloggers and magazines, because in the end we have to take care of everything ourselves. A bit stupid, because we actually want to keep experimenting with songs and sounds.
Enid: I am currently trying to practise singing while playing bass for upcoming live shows…
Happy: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods?
Rolf: Well, the band is from Hamburg. Enid and Lorenz are Hamburg natives, I was mainly musically active in Cologne. But Hamburg, as an international hub, has of course a great music scene, a lot of live clubs, and a mega exchange in various genres.
I always found Hamburg much more exciting than the scene in Cologne, especially if you are more into electric guitars.
Happy: Describe an average day?
Rolf: We can’t live from music alone at the moment, we have other jobs on the side. Lorenz is a copywriter…
Enid: … I am an art student and he is a freelance graphic designer….
Rolf: But when we talk about a typical day, the music still has a high value. I have the guitar in my hand every day, trying to find interesting parts that can eventually be made into a song.
Then of course there are the rehearsals, and of course the recordings – but of course that’s not a daily routine.
Happy: What did you listen to growing up that fuelled your passion for music?
Happy: Can you tell us about the origin story of your band and how you all came together to create music?
Rolf: Lorenz and I worked together and at some point we realized that we both make music and are also musically on a similar wavelength. And somehow, Enid came along with her bass there, too.
Happy: Collaboration seems to be a key element in your music, especially with the inclusion of Enid’s vocals. Can you talk about the dynamics of working together as a band?
Rolf: Yes, the collaboration is exciting, usually I have a part and an approach to a melody in my head. Then I do a short recording, just guitar and a hint of a melody and send this to Enid.
She then often has an association and can throw an idea for the mood and lyrics into the room. Most of the time a basic idea for a song emerges quickly, which we then slowly work out, of course.
Composing the individual elements, putting them together in a first rough version is then the satisfying part, seeing a song work is still the best part of all.
Enid: Yes, not to mention that we have some song ideas with nice parts, nice melodies, but somehow they didn’t work out…
Happy: What are the key musical influences that have shaped the sound of your band?
Rolf: Sure, nineties shoegaze, especially Kevin Shields guitars are a big influence, but I use almost no tremolo arm like all MBV inspired bands do. It’s more the approach with open Tunings and Open Chords.
Then of course for me it’s bands like Nothing that have a stronger emphasis on rhythm and dynamics. But we can’t deny post-punk and post-core influences as well.
Enid: Yes, the vocals are shoegaze, obviously, whispered, soft, but sometimes with a little emphasis on the lower tones… but sure, I like the sound of Belinda Butcher’s voice.
Happy: Can you share any insights into the recording process?
Rolf: It’s absolutely DIY, some parts are recorded in the rehearsal room in several sessions.
After we have our drum track ready, I record the Guitars with my Marshall and Fender Amp, miked with a Shure SM57 and a Sennheiser E609, most of the parts played with my beloved Ibanez Tallman from the nineties and my Fender Jazzmaster (the shoegaze classic), and obviously some pedals like the OCD, the Oceans Eleven, Keeley Loomer and others.
Bass and Vocals are done, as a last step, in our little home studio again. We usually record and mix like 6 Tracks of Main Vocals plus additional Tracks if there is a second melody. And sure, Mixing is done in our studio, too.
Enid: Yeah, to get all the vocal-tracks that we like takes a while… not easy…
Happy: “Low Glow” showcases a wide range of genres, from shoegaze to guitar-led pop. What inspires your approach to creating music that defies classification?
Rolf: Mmh, we don’t try to avoid any classification, of course there are the different influences, and in the end we do what feels right for us. We wouldn’t leave out a song just because we might think it sounds too much like dreampop instead of grungegaze, or whatever.
But yes, of course there is a common denominator, we love interesting chord progressions and melodies that are dreamy, combined with a hypnotic guitar noise.
Enid: And, in the end it somehow should be a song, something that you could play and sing along to an acoustic Guitar… but I don’t think this will ever happen.
Rolf: yeah, and it would be difficult to get the chords right…
Happy: “Fall From Cedars” was the track that initially captured attention. What do you think it is about that particular song that resonated with listeners and compelled them to explore more of your music?
Enid: Well, we don’t know. But we must say that we liked it very much, when we wrote it. Everytime we play it there is still a special feel about it.
Rolf: Yeah, I like the sad downward chromatic notes in the progression – you especially can hear it at the end of the song…
Happy: Looking ahead, what can fans of The First Eloi expect in terms of future projects or musical directions? Are there any new genres or collaborations on the horizon?
Rolf: Another thing we don’t know, but we will continue working on songs and sounds… I am looking forward to getting some new pedals, we will see…
Happy: Lastly, what makes you happy?
Enid: It’s great to create something that other people can enjoy, but we are happy when we create something that we like ourselves.
Rolf: Yes, I think that is essential for all artists, this is the drive you need to feel, otherwise you’re doing just a job.