. A young five-piece collective delivering a classic British sound that has felt neglected for a while. Upbeat melodic vibes leave no uncertainty about the support and admiration this group has of a number of big names in British music. Despite on the surface looking like just another group of young people around Brighton, and leading day-to-day lives working and studying, it’s hard to believe that they are in fact producing outstanding music. It's a sound that is beyond their years; inspiring and unique.
Following our previous print catch up with the band, this time photographer Sophie Mayanne visits their home town and captures them on their seafront doorstep; their natural habitat if you will. The seaside town is a music mecca, and the colourful sounds of White Room are steam rolling the group to success. Lewis Evans-Martin styles them in uniform stripes and shirts, simple and fun, keeping spirited even with the sharp gusts of harsh wind. Settling down in an obscure and humbling mismatched pub, adorned in old-school retro attire, they unwind and indulge in conversations on their prospective futures and what it's like growing up today.
Having announced their second tour supporting the Modfather himself, Paul Weller, their future is looking brighter with every single. The tunes are psychedelic and engaging, an aching yearning for summer resonates within you as the music fizzes around and fills mind. They’re addictive and the promise of music a little later this year has us on the edge of our seats. Having already announced a great number of appearances for the upcoming festival season, there’s no way to question the musical prosperity and charm of White Room.
If you guys could say your names and a little bit about yourselves.
Jacob: I’m Jacob and I play guitar in White Room.
Josie: I’m Josie and I play bass and backing notes.
Tristan: I’m Tristan. I play a combination of instruments; the guitar, the organ, the synth.
Jake: I’m Jake and I fish.
Henry: I’m Henry. I like peanut butter.
How did you guys find the shoot today?
Tristan: It was cold, it was windy, it was really hard to keep your hair together, but all in all it was a successful shoot. We all looked very good and it was fun.
Jake: Had some chips.
Josie: Took Floyd for walk.
Henry: Had some nice clothes given to us to wear.
How would you describe one another?
Jake: Hen’s a cheeky little scheming drummer boy. Always scheming and talking in riddles.
Hen: Jacob is a big giraffe.
Jacob: Josie is… fun and new.
Josie: Fun and new? T… T is Mr. Mowgli Man.
Tristan: Yeah, someone emailed a really serious message to us on Facebook, and I replied with ‘Hello there, Mowgli bear!’ - it was a very bizarre thing. Jake is ‘exact replica (of) Floyd’. Look at his hair - human replica of Floyd. Make that in to three somehow.
Jacob: ‘Looks like Floyd’.
How did you guys meet?
Jake: Me, Tristan and Jacob were in school together and we met Hen through Tristan - they're cousins. Me and Josie were in college together while Josie was doing her own stuff. She’s a singer/songwriter, a bloody good one, and I did some recording with her. When another member left, we were like; ‘get Josie in the band!’.
Henry: The perfect fit.
Jake: Now she’s here.
Tristan: Fun and new.
Josie: I’ve been in the band about 7 months. When you look back at it, we’ve done a lot.
Jake: Josie got thrown into the deep end, ‘cause she joined mid-festival season and her first show with us was Y-Not festival. We did one warm up under a different name, but the first White Room show was a festival and we smashed it.
Josie: I had dabbled in bass a little before joining and then within a month of being in White Room, properly learning bass, they were like; ‘we’re playing Reading and Leeds’. I was like; ‘why are you doing this to me?’. It was terrifying, but it was fun.
What was your first performance together as White Room like?
Jacob: I think our first as White Room was in a place called The Horn.
Tristan: It was a show that had 300 capacity and we managed to get it more or less sold out. We made it a really big deal, got all our friends along and they brought the mosh pits.
Josie: I actually supported that gig.
Jake: You supported the first White Room show and now...
Tristan: Two and a half years later!
Jake: You were watching like; ‘you know what there might be a little trick in there’.
Josie: I have a song called ‘The Trick’ as well!
I’ve heard you have quite a stage presence, how do you like being on stage and performing?
Henry: It’s the best. Amazing.
Jake: It gives you more of a buzz than anything else in the world does. You can’t really compare it, especially when you’re playing to a responsive crowd, it just gets you going all night. I always find afterwards you’re just still feeling fizzy, which is a feeling you don’t really get in a lot of other things.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Jake: Someone made up a rumour about Hen…
Jacob: But no set rituals really.
Jake: We just always make sure we gather beforehand, talk about going out there and smashing it.
Henry: Have a little team talk.
Josie: I feel like the better gigs are when we gather.
Jake: When you find yourself just falling on stage, being told you’re about to go on and you haven’t sort of clocked it, or a few people are up on stage already setting up, it all gets a bit rushed.
Henry: It’s a lot better when we’re altogether getting in the zone all at the same time.
You excitingly announced just yesterday that you’re touring with Paul Weller. How are you all feeling about that?
Jake: We’re going to have a load of new songs in that set. We’re off to the studio a couple of weeks before hand - in Paul’s studio actually - to start recording our next big batch of songs we’re going to release before summer. It's going to be very new, so we’re going to work hard getting it ready.
Tristan: You want to feel comfortable with the songs, otherwise you’re not comfortable on stage and people will see that.
Jacob: To have a new batch of songs, regardless of how good they are, they need to fit in the set list. So that’s also something to bare in mind.
Tristan: The set is a half hour and that’s what we usually play now, so to be playing a lot of new songs we’re going to have to get rid of a lot of old ones, which really takes us out of our comfort zone, but that’s alright.
Jake: Yeah, there’s a difference. We’ve been playing tracks from the EP for quite a while now, and it was last time we were playing here at The Hope that we played a completely new set list. Six out of the eight were completely new tracks, unreleased with the two latest single releases too. It was a very, very different mind set. When it’s second nature it’s fine, but I got on stage about to do a load of new songs and I was like; ‘shit, I think I’ve had too many drinks, I can’t see properly’.
Considering you’re going to start recording soon, what have you been listening to yourselves?
Jake: For me personally, I’ve been getting into Lemon Twigs from America, they’re really good. King Lizard… Oh Baxter Dury, Ian Dury’s son, listen to some of his stuff, it’s so good! He sounds like Ian Dury, but kind of more electronic, female vocals and things and he steps in with some spoken word. Really good tunes.
Jacob: There’s a lot of new albums out at the moment. The new Warpaint album is pretty sick.
Jake: Also liking stuff from Strange Bones, they’ve got sick music.
Where would you say you draw your artistic influences from?
Jake: I think at the moment it’s a lot to do with what's going on in the world. Whether it’s political or social change, lyrically I’ve been drawing on a bit of that, looking for escapism and how you can slip out of the mundane pains. You see these posts and videos every day that you can’t even bring yourself to click on, because you don’t want to sit and watch it - even though you know you have to, because you want to be aware what’s going on. The whole idea of escapism for me personally is a big thing with what I’m writing about.
Josie: It is something we’re going to involve a lot more in our band as a whole as well. We’re getting two of our good friends who are artists for our future releases, and hopefully our Weller tour as well to get some projections in our live show. We have a bit of a concept going on.
Jacob: We’ve always been quite a visual band, whether that be videos or look. It goes hand in hand.
Jake: It’s nice to work with young up-and-coming artists as well, it goes both ways. We’ll have really great album covers from their artwork, and by using them they are being exposed to a whole new crowd of people. It’s beneficial to have the collaborative mindset.
Do you often work as a collective writing your songs?
Jake: It varies. There’s a lot of demoing, writing tunes and then sharing it, and working on bits we like. It moulds and progresses.
Jacob: Yeah, it’s a mixture. Altogether we’ll rehearse and there will be a lot of writing to come out of that, but also we do our own things and bring it in.
How does it make you feel that you are influencers to other people?
Jake: We were talking about that the other day actually when we were talking about concepts. We were thinking about how it would be amazing, if a few years down the line, people were figuring little things out that you’ve put subtly in the music. If you’re a musician or artist, you want to be an influence to other people. Just the idea of someone being like; ‘I want to learn that song’, or ‘I want a melody like that', it’s just what I want to do.
Josie: That’s what surrounds us as musicians. We do that all the time with others, and if people did that to us, that would be mad.
Jake: Whether you’re playing sold out shows at Wembley or playing to a small pub down the road, if someone leaves that gig going; ‘I want to go home, play guitar and write a song’, then you’ve won.
What sort of things do you want to say with your music?
Jake: We’re not a massively political band, but there’s obviously so much going on right now that you just couldn’t not mention it - it’s so important.
Jacob: Even writing about your personal stuff, your personal thoughts will be that at the moment.
Jake: We want to give people the opportunity to go to a venue, dance, have an amazing time, and escape from it all. Get people moving again.
What’s the deal with your next single releases?
Jake: We’re going to be doing a big batch of songs released over time. It’s an undecided number, but it’ll be a fair few. We’re going in to the studio mid March, record like four, and then start doing some online releases. At the end of that when it’s a big body, we’ll put that out as a physical around August.
Jacob: It’s going to be the most music we’ve released in such a short space of time.
Jake: It’s going to be like; 'boom, here’s a song; boom, here’s a song'. I think it’s the way to go, because nowadays; people don’t listen to albums as much or listen to things as a flow. If you do it like; ‘here’s a track; here’s a track; here’s a track’, it’s going to get heard and received a lot better, waiting for the next one.
Do you think your experience of being young is different to people that you know?
Tristan: To an extent, yeah.
Jacob: Majority of our friends have got the uni lifestyle. I’m at uni myself - music college - but I would say there’s a difference.
Henry: There’s definitely a difference, because they’ve all had that opportunity to go to uni, leave and make new friends, when we’ve all stayed in Brighton working on this thing.
Jacob: It was a collective decision while we were finishing school. We definitely thought we should give this a go.
At Boys by Girls we are curious about what shapes our identities growing up. What do you think shapes young men growing up today?
Jacob: Unfortunately, it might just be the growth of this ‘Snapchat generation’.
Jake: No one has an attention span, and people don’t have the ability to just be bored. I think boredom is such an important thing. You sit there doing nothing and you have to think about what you can do. It makes you do something instead of watching ten thousand videos or playing Angry Birds.
Tristan: Angry Birds? It’s 2017 not 2013, come on.
Jake: I especially think with young kids now, you see people satisfying their boredom with an iPad, telling them to play a game. Just go and be really bored. Find some worms.
Jacob: People are being spoon fed sudo-intellectualism by these people on Snapchat, spouting these ridiculous motivational phrases to inspire you to pick up your phone and take a selfie.
Jake: We’re in a sound bite generation. And that’s a sound bite.
Tristan: At the same time, the Internet and all these social media platforms, they’re all helping us as a band. As much as you hate it, that’s the way it has gone, you can’t fight against it.
Jacob: There are huge benefits to it as well. You can write a post and your fans will know what you’re doing and what’s going on instantly. It’s just people being glued to it that’s so negative.
How do you think it effects the way people look at themselves?
Henry: People post unrealistic ideals for people to try and aspire to, when it’s just never going to happen. Bands can post the best picture of their lives and fans look at that thinking; ‘oh, I wish I could do that’, but under all that they’re unhappy about so much.
Jake: People can hide behind a screen and build up their own sort of persona and you meet them in real life, they don’t have anything to say for themselves. They can have such strong views on everything, then when you actually talk to them in person, they really simmer down.
Tristan: ‘Got paid to say that’. I’m thinking on the bigger picture.
Jacob: Basically, something needs to change on this.
Would you say that men are more vulnerable than previous generations?
Jake: I think it's clear with the rise in mental health issues. Mental health has always been there, but recently it’s just gone up and there are so many ways of people getting attacked and so many more opportunities for people to overthink little things, and for it to really effect them. Social media feeds these things.
Jacob: It highlights problems that don’t even seem like problems, but because of the world we live in they have become just that.
Jake: Everything is under a spotlight now.
Henry: Anything you say online is for everyone to see.
Tristan: There are so many people at gigs these days watching it through their phones.
Jacob: In the future days of virtual reality, you might even see empty gigs. Just artist playing to empty venues and people watching at home.
Jake: That would be the most disgusting thing. You don’t always need to be looking at the world through your phone screen. Just enjoy the night.
Aside from music, what do you guys do in your spare time?
Jake: I do love a bit of fishing.
Henry: I’m a summer fisherman, he’s an all-round year fisherman.
Jake: It’s nice when you get back from a run of shows and you're able to chill for a little bit and go down to the beach. I like cooking as well.
Josie: Before joining White Room I was going to go to art school in London, so something that I’m enjoying about this new project that we have is incorporating normal art, and it’s something I can involve myself in.
Tristan: I quite like puns.
Henry: Me and T love a bit of climbing. We’re an active group of people.
Tristan: You’ve got to be active these days.
What would you do if you weren’t in a band?
Jake: Living on a fishing boat.
Henry: I’d be depressed.
Jacob: I’d be watching lots of other bands. Live a very jealous life. Or be in another band maybe.
What would you say was the ultimate goal?
Josie: You said it the other day, just to have a body of work that we’re proud of.
Jacob: I say a lot.
Jake: Being in a situation where we can write music and release it when and as we please. Knowing that we have a following that’s going to stay with us forever, really getting in to it. I think the ability to know that for the rest of my life, all I have to do is release albums - that is perfect. You get to do what you love doing for the rest of your life.
Henry: I could not agree more.
Tristan: Yeah I agree, but I’d also say that the ultimate, ultimate goal was Peter Crouch, 40 yards out on the touch line, volleys it - that’s the ultimate goal.