The deary model for shoegaze success worked pretty well last year – open the year with a great new song that ticks all the boxes, follow up with a full release that doesn’t disappoint courtesy of Sonic Cathedral, and open up for Slowdive – so why not try it again?
London’s Whitelands aren’t following the playbook exactly, though. Night-bound Eyes Are Blind To The Day, out February 23, will be the trio’s second full-length following their 2018 self-titled mini-album, and they will be supporting Slowdive across the UK that same month; something of a more compressed timeline!
The official bio reads:
Whitelands are Etienne, Jagun, Vanessa and Michael and they are ostensibly a shoegaze band ever since Etienne stumbled across Slowdive’s KEXP session in his recommended videos on YouTube a few years ago. However, they come at the resurgent, Gen Z-soundtracking genre from a refreshingly different angle thanks to their mishmash of musical backgrounds. There’s also the fact that their line-up is fully PoC in what is traditionally seen as a predominantly white genre.
“There’s an underlying narrative that it’s OK for white men to be romantic, sensitive, emotional and make dreamy music and, by contrast, young Black men should be making angry music,” says Vanessa. “We’ve all grown up with these stereotypes and therefore I think people are mystified when they see Whitelands.”
“I consume a lot of media,” says Etienne of his wide range of influences. “Videogames, music, news, paintings, manga, animations and film are my go-to, especially anime. There is this drive to want to understand and feel the whole weight of an expression. So, the songs are based on other songs, pictures, aesthetics, ‘vibes’, an emotion someone else felt. Fundamentally, you are what you eat.” As a result of this diet, the lyrics are stunning, dealing with everything from unbalanced relationships and vulnerability to depression, being diagnosed with ADHD and, on the new single ‘Tell Me About It’ (featuring vocals by Dottie from the band’s Sonic Cathedral labelmates deary), trying to navigate love following that diagnosis.
The album is bookended by two poetically political songs – ‘Setting Sun’ and ‘Now Here’s The Weather’ – that deal with imperialism, racism and performative ignorance. “We’ve experienced tokenism, micro-behaviours, envy and resentment,” concludes Vanessa. “So we feel we have to continually prove ourselves. We know we’re making a positive impact, but I want Whitelands to really break some barriers.”Whitelands
But they did stick with the step of ringing in the new year with a shimmering new song that features guest vocals from Dottie from deary. It’s not the first sample of the new record – it’s actually the fifth, following singles “How It Feels” and “Born Of Understanding” in 2022, and “Setting Sun” and “The Prophet & I” last year – but accompanying the official news of the new record, it manages to keep the momentum going.
About the song and collaboration, they say:
“It’s about being lost with the aspect of love,” says Whitelands bandleader Etienne. “It’s about dealing with break-ups, not in the sense of missing a relationship or a person, but ‘am I doing this right?’. It seems loving while being neurodivergent (ADHD) doesn’t follow the same rules, because I tend to fall in love with other neurodivergent people.” Dottie adds, “I was intrigued to immerse myself into someone else’s art. I love how sweet the two vocals sound together, especially when the lyrics have a soft sadness to them.”Whitelands announce debut LP, touring with Slowdive (hear “Tell Me About It”) @ BrooklynVegan
And of the accompanying video, directed by Charlotte Whitesiide, they add:
This song is super special to us, its the first time we’ve ever had a feature on so we’re glad it worked out so so well. Inspired by Fallen Angels by Wong Kar-Wai this one is for the true yearners out there! Masterly filmed in Japan by Charlotte Whitesiide and brilliantly filmed and edited in London by InnerstringsWhitelands @ Facebook