INTERVIEW: Penelope Isles; As a Recent Signing To The Legendary Bella Union We Decided We Had To Chat to Jack Wolter From The Band.

Fresh from signing with record label Bella Union and dropping 2 live sessions Chlorine and Gnarbone we had to chat to Penelope Isles to hear all about their exciting plans, here’s what Jack Wolter had to say to us.

Hi, how are you? Congratulations on signing to Bella Union recently, as a young band it must be hard for it to sink in signing to such an important label?

Jack – Hello! Thanks a lot. Yea it’s pretty sound to be signed to such a wonderful label! We still pinch ourselves when we think of who our label mates are! Simon and the team at BU have become an integral part of the Penelope Isles machine. It’s very much a homely feel. We worked really hard before we got signed and started to build a team..but being welcomed into the label has enabled us to really sink our teeth into it! We are forever thankful and are very stoked.

When you visit Bella Union’s store in Brighton they offer you a hot drink of your choice (we must admit they make a fantastic coffee); if you were in their store right now what hot drink would you have? 

Jack – Shout out to Josh and Luciele at the shop! Probs one of pint of Lager.

In 2017 you released ‘Cut Your Hair’ which shares the name of the legendary Pavement track; do you know much of Pavement’s work and what do you think a band of their style would say about Penelope Isles?

‘[Pavement] Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is a big influence for both Lily and I.’

Jack – We love Pavement. Although our song wasn’t named after that song. Or maybe it was one of those subconscious steals! Lets say it’s is a nod to Pavement! [Pavement album] Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is a big influence for both Lily and I. 

Penelope Isles have recently released live recording of Chlorine which you, Jack are credited as ’sound & edit’, how important is it to you that you have creative control of your output and will we be seeing your name in credits of future Penelope Isles videos or the album? And any other bands work?

‘A lot our songs have been in our ears for a few a long time now…so we had a strong idea of how they had to sound. ‘

Jack – Definitely important for this collection of songs. We made the record ourselves at Bella Studios in Brighton. A lot our songs have been in our ears for a few a long time now…so we had a strong idea of how they had to sound. We did try working with another producer when we started recording our album but it wasn’t right. I guess when it comes to making music I’ve always loved the recording process. It didn’t feel right not be in control of crafting our songs and making them sound like us. I worked on mixing the record with Iggy B at the Bella Union Studio in London which was my first real collaboration I guess! I was nervous at first but he is legend and we came up with something we all really love. I’ve been producing some live video sessions for DITZ, Dog In The Snow, Mullholland and Penelope Isles. I’ve basically been living in the studio! I’m also working on some studio recordings with Good Guy Clarence.

The Bella Unions’ website describes Chlorine as the first single; will it be streaming platforms soon as it isn’t currently? With the debut album coming this summer it is inevitable that another single or 2 will drop before the albums release; what can you tell us about stuff coming before the album?

Jack – Yea ‘Chlorine’ will be up on your Spotify in a few days actually. It’s only available to listen on on 7″ at the moment. Pick one up at Rough Trade or at Bella Union! We’re working on videos and artwork at the moment.

It’s going to be a little while before we all get to hear your album; can you give a little Penelope Isles review on your album ‘Until the Tide Creeps In’; we want a window into how you would describe it?

‘I wanted the record to sound like… the way we perform the songs live.’

Jack – Its always a task to describe your own music! I’ve always loved the ‘lo-fi’ sound that comes with the era of the bedroom producer. I wanted the record to sound like this but also making sure in capturing the clarity and dynamics of the band and the way we perform the songs live. I listened to the songs a lot when they were finished which is a good sign! I like to think we’ve captured what Penelope Isles is! I’m really proud of the album. 

‘I’m really proud of the album.’

On your Facebook page under the section ‘Awards’ it’s written ‘3 grammys’, we assume this is a fun joke? If Penelope Isles were to ever win Grammys for the upcoming album/singles what categories/awards would they be? 

Jack – Haa I think that’s something to do with Lily. I didn’t think anyone read anyone’s bios! 

This year so far you have 2 appearances in America booked; DIY mag are putting on their stage at The New Colossus Festival and Steve Lamacq of BBC 6 Music (and general legend of everything cool) is putting you on BBC 6 Music’s stage for the British Music Embassy Showcase; what does it feel like going to the USA so early in Penelope Isles career? …Who knows maybe you’ll get those Grammys!

Jack – It’s early on in the grand scheme of things I guess! We’re all buzzing about America. We’re so lucky for this opportunity. But it’s been pretty full on for us for the last three and a bit years working towards things like 6Music and touring the world, so we feel ready for these shows overseas. But I’m not sure we’ll need to be working in any speeches just yet! 

Bands themselves are always the best ones to get tips from other great upcoming artists, who are you loving right now that we should check out?

‘We had a sneak peak of Hannah Cohen’s new record out… this year, it’s very beautiful.’

Jack – We had a sneak peak of Hannah Cohen’s new record out on Bella Union this year, it’s very very beautiful. Go see a band from London called Boss. They are releasing a split release with our friends The Mantis Opera who are also fabulous.

Anything else you want to tell Underscore Part 3 about Penelope Isles, yourself or a random fact!?

Jack – When you get to the end of a packet of sesame bagels.. pour the left over seeds on top of your last buttery bagel for extra sesss!  

Questions James Wadsworth