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Penelope Isles are the perfect juxtaposition. A band whose music is a combination of punchy and heartfelt, debut album ‘Until The Tide Creeps In’ mingles sweet and summery harmonies with impeccably layered guitar tones that are hypnotic and instantly moving. The album, which was released in July, has something for everyone and founding member Lily advertises her own personal recommendations to the hypothetical new consumer with ease over the phone.

“If they’re the kind of person who is maybe more into loud, rocky stuff, I’d say Gnarbone because it’s a bit of a journey and I think that it’s got a little bit of all of us in. But if you’re the kind of person who, maybe it’s a Sunday night, you’re chilling in the bath and want to feel a little bit emotional and like you’re in an indie film then ‘Looking For Me’ might be perfect for you”.

One of the most captivating parts of Penelope Isles’ makeup is that it’s truly a family affair. Lily’s older brother Jack, who is not only part of the band but also tour manager and designated van driver, is a key part of the band’s overall dynamic. “I’m really blessed [that] I’ve got my older brother who I would just not be in this situation and get to see all these places and play all these cool gigs, I wouldn’t be able to do that at all without him”. Lily continues: “We very much go together and I’m very blessed to have that”. 

And of course, with a strong family unit within the band, it’s obvious that the support from family on the outside would be just as significant. Talking about her parents, Lily states: “They’ve never questioned any of our choices growing up. They’ve never been pushy, like when Jack wanted to go on tour when he was 16, Dad went with him, whereas all the other parents in the band told their kids to quit”.

The band formed in Brighton around four years ago, and although Brighton is commonly portrayed as possessing a glistening music scene that grants the wildest dreams to all kinds of bands from all walks of life, Lily explains that this has not always been the way. Moving to Brighton to attend BIMM aged 18, Lily’s attitudes on the music scene in the small yet swanky coastal city changed very quickly. “I was under the influence that there was going to be a lot more happening with alternative music. But, when I got here, I was just swarmed with a lot of rocky, funk bands”.

She continues “I was kind of initially disappointed and it was only through working really hard over the past four years of being in this band and developing some good friendships that I feel like now I can say that there is a really lovely little scene here”. Lily also puts this change in atmosphere down to Brighton-based promoters such as Acid Box and festivals such as The Great Escape. “I had my first Great Escape this year and it was amazing. It’s really cool and I felt proud to live here when that was on”.

Despite the excitement that followed the debut, the band are not in any rush to release more music. Instead, they are filling in the time between gigs experimenting with a new media form.

“We’ve been working on these little episodes, Penny Isles TV they’re called,” Lily states enthusiastically. “In January, we made a pact that we were just going to film absolutely everything. Jack’s girlfriend bought him a handheld camera and it’s honestly been the thing we’ve been using the most”.

Taking inspiration from indie band Will and the People’s short snippets of their life through Instagram, Lily wants Penny Isles TV to show the band in their most candid form. “It’s just us being absolute tossers, swearing and eating loads of McDonalds”. To Lily, as a fan of many other bands who use Instagram as a self-marketing tool, she sees these videos as important to building a connection between fans and band. “It’s an insight to character and I feel like that is how you grow to really love and connect with musicians”.

Penelope Isles are not a band who state a clear and obvious message within their music. Their approach is simple. “We write about ourselves and we write about love and heartbreak and crying and being all happy and living by the sea and having good friends and worrying about the future and family and stuff life that”. But, it is through their own creativity and lack of sticking to the rulebook that they have the freedom to go wherever they want.

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Words: Hayley Millross

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