INTERVIEW: Blue Jellyfish on Debut Single "Daydreamer"
Blue Jellyfish released their debut single "Daydreamer" today - a floaty, hazy indie-pop tune that will certainly keep you on your toes if you try to count it out. It is rare that such technical genius is blanketed by breeze and minimalistic bliss - definitely one for the summer playlist.
Prior to their first major release, I sat down (over Google Meet) with frontwoman and guitarist Havni, drummer Elena, bassist Rory and guitarist Ryan; to chat about how "Daydreamer" ultimately came about. It was brilliant to chat to these guys - driven, motivated, supportive of each other and slightly hilarious. I had a great time with them.
Blue Jellyfish - Ryan, Rory, Elena and Havni (left to right)
TSM: It's so nice to finally talk to you guys! How did you meet and start playing music together?
Havni: Hi!! So we met at uni, but we were all doing different things. Ryan and I met at a house party - he had seen my guitar on Facebook and I was just leaving the toilet and he started talking to me about how cool my guitar was-
Ryan: Yeah I kind of bombarded her. Drunkenly. You know like the suggested friends list on Facebook? Loads of people were coming up on there, and then I saw Havni’s jag and it was gorgeous. So I told her it was sick and the drunken ramblings continued.
Elena: Havni knew me because I was in a band with someone she replaced in an old band, if that makes sense?
Havni: And me and Rory live together! I asked if he wanted to play bass in this thing and he was like yeah cool.
TSM: Blue Jellyfish is a really cool name - I get that you guys seem to have a whole aquatic vibe going on, how did you get that name and aesthetic?
Havni: My cousin actually drew a drawing of a jellyfish and I was like that’s so sick. So I decided I wanted to use it for some music. I wanted to call the band Jellyfish but that was taken, so I just put blue in front of it! I think it works with our music because when we started off we were like our music is wavy and bouncy, which is what a jellyfish kind of does.
Elena: You should have said the other answer we came up with earlier.
Ryan: We understand it’s a really boring answer to the question, so we just make shit up all the time.
Elena: Was it Blue Bellyfish was taken? Havni: Yeah, Blue Bellyfish was taken.
We all crack up.
TSM: So how would you guys describe your creative process as a band, from writing a song all the way to releasing it? Havni: Um, I think I kind of just have an idea and then I’ll show everyone and we’ll jam it, and then because we’re jamming it I have to kind of force myself to finish it. Then the song is done! Ryan: We do change it quite a lot in that time. Like if we listen back to the demos then they’re quite different.
Havni: Yeah I always end up getting carried away with producing it, and accidentally just making all the parts, and then we have to work out how to play all those parts with the four of us and just real instruments.
Elena: I remember for Daydreamer, I would have had to have like 6 limbs to play the drums that you wrote!
Ryan: The first time we released it [Daydreamer demo] I remember Havni sent me the final mix and I was like wow okay this is pretty cool, and then the next time I listened to it was after it was released and I kept hearing new bits that she had put in.
TSM: So Havni are you quite into production and producing stuff for the band?
Havni: Yeah, most of it-
Elena: Havni always has the start, like the initial idea, and she always has a clear vision for percussion and then we find a mutual agreement on what I should play.
Havni: Yeah I always end up feeling bad though! I just get carried away and literally just make every part.
Ryan: I think there’s still a lot of freedom in what to play.
Havni: Yeah when I showed you Daydreamer we said you can pretty much play whatever you want over that.
Ryan: My goal was definitely just to make both guitars sound like one part.
Havni: Yeah, I think it worked nicely.
Elena: I didn’t really change the drums because I could barely even count it at the start where we switch signatures! Ryan: Oh, the counting!!
TSM: Yeah I was listening to the demo today and trying to count the time signatures and I was like uh 6/8 and then woah and then what? It’s really really good.
Havni: Yeah it’s so syncopated, I had to use a fake click because the original project was on a different count and nobody could count it properly. We had to use like a cowbell and you can hear it going through Ryan’s pickups sometimes.
Ryan: This happens quite a lot with our songs!
TSM: So how did you guys come up with Daydreamer?
Havni: I was kind of just jamming this chord progression, and I was like this sounds so sick. I just love chill guitar stuff so I ended up putting loads of guitar layers over it, and then I thought it needs a hook and so I just made the chorus simpler in terms of chords. But the fucking count is still so irritating. I remember trying to teach it to everyone and I was like I don’t know what I’ve done, I couldn’t physically work out the count as well!
Elena: I understand it now, but at the start I just wanted to punch you.
Ryan: It’s such a nuisance to work out at the beginning.
Havni: But yeah I was just going for really a guitar-based ambient song with loads of melodies. It’s got a funky bassline now though, which I rate. I think now we were getting to the point of writing more stuff together before corona!
TSM: And the visuals for Daydreamer are so nice! Who designed the cover art? Havni: Oh with the fish! Elena painted it!
Elena: Yeah I painted it.
Ryan: Our resident artist.
Havni: I bare rate it. I kind of want to just have like a different fish for each release.
Elena: Someone else put the cool background on it.
Daydreamer Cover Art
TSM: It reminds me of, do you remember The Rainbow Fish? The children’s book where he has the silver fin?
Ryan: How do you guys not remember this book?!
Havni: I feel like I remember that.
TSM: I have the book right here on my bookshelf! Let me get it.
We then discovered that we all, in fact, remember the legacy of The Rainbow Fish.
Elena: Yeah I’ve got a lot of fish to paint in the future for this.
Ryan: Aren’t you trying to invent fish?
Elena: I was going to create a fish yeah. We shall see.
TSM: It is very cool. So as a band, I can hear some inspiration very clearly but who would you say your biggest inspirations are at the moment in music?
Havni: I feel like individually everyone has so many different inspirations. For myself it’s definitely just Foals and Yvette Young - really just melodic modern guitarists.
Ryan: We did try as a group to create a list of people who we thought we sounded a bit like, but it was really hard! Havni: It is so hard. Because even Foals I don’t really think we sound that much like them.
Ryan: I think it’s lots of people and we just take little bits from each.
Havni: I listen to a lot of K-Pop as well, so a lot of our chords and underlying songwriting is really poppy.
Ryan: For me, Ed O’Brien has just released a new album which is rocking my socks. Guitar wise I think it’s so cool. I think John Martyn, Johnny Marr is a given - yeah I think those are a good three. I definitely think Ed O’Brien at the moment. He’s getting into more like delays, pitch shifters, that sort of thing.
TSM: And I hear you’ve just got a new pedalboard?
Ryan: Yes!! My aim is to not really 1) play what Havni is playing and 2) not take the attention away from what she’s playing. I feel like it’s a synchronised thing and it kind of works.
Havni: I feel like you do that really well.
TSM: So does one of you play more lead and the other rhythm?
Ryan: It’s even, really. I think that’s one of my favourite things - there’s no like you’re rhythm, you’re lead. I feel like if there is a part that really complements something, you’re all good.
After this we discovered the captions function on Google Meet, and how it will not ever pick up Havni’s name.
Havni: Elena who do you like?
Elena: Well I think at the start of the band, I was not really trying to play like anyone specifically - I was just trying to play your parts and put my own twist on it. I think I was channeling my Nate Smith especially with more disco stuff, just trying to get in that pocket. Except for that Indian song that you’re writing Havni.
TSM: This sounds cool, can you tell me more about this or is it like top secret? Havni: No no we can talk about it! I basically went home for a bit and usually when I go home my dad just shows me all of the Indian songs that he’s been listening to. So I’ve just been listening to all those Indian songs and I jammed out this one riff and thought it sounded so Indian and so cool. There’s a cool disco bass under it and it just sounds sick. I’m yet to work on it more.
We then went on to talk about how the band once crammed all their gear into a tube for a show and the stresses of that.
Havni (passionately explaining this story): We were on the train, looking for a toilet that didn’t exist!
Ryan: Oh, the complexities of band life.
Blue Jellyfish visuals
TSM: Okay. Question. If you guys could collaborate with one other artist right now who would it be?
Ryan: That is a forbidden collab.
Elena: I thought you were gonna say Yvette Young.
Havni: Ah yeah genuinely Yvette Young.
Ryan: Although she was quite spooked when we met.
Havni: I try not to think about that, Ryan. Yeah she did a little like masterclass thing and I got to talk to her afterwards but I think I was just talking shit about Blue Jellyfish and she looked a bit scared.
Ryan: Yeah she definitely was.
TSM: I actually only have one more question for you guys if that’s okay. After your release of Daydreamer, what else can we expect from you? Havni: More.Songs.
Ryan: We are trying to record one at home in isolation at the moment, we are about halfway there with that. Then when all of this is done, we’ve got an even bigger tune and an even bigger video.
Elena: I was all booked in to record drums for it at Abbey Road but then they were closed.
TSM: That’s amazing! Abbey Road will always now be known to me as where the sausage roll song was recorded.
*Silence and confusion*
TSM: Ah, you guys are probably too cool to know what that is. You know LadBaby, the dad who does YouTube videos?
Blue Jellyfish, collectively: No.
TSM: He got Christmas No.1?!
Ryan: OH, of course!
TSM (trying not to dig myself deeper into the ground): So is there anything else you guys want to talk about now?
Havni: I’d say that yeah we’ve just got a bigger release coming soon.
Elena: We’ve also got the video coming out with Daydreamer, which we made with Daze Projects.
TSM: Is that who did the background for the cover art too? Ryan: Yeah.
TSM: Cool. I’ve been stalking you guys on Instagram if you haven’t already noticed. Another question - how are you guys doing in lockdown in general? Havni: I’ve kept a caterpillar.
Ryan: I’ve bought way too many things.
Elena: I’ve made some focaccia.
Havni: I’ve been doing some mad cooking.
Ryan: Baking. I’ve been on that baking hype. I made a cookie tower the other day. It was so good.
TSM: Same here. That all sounds fab. Well, thank you guys so much for being interviewed! I really wanted to write about you guys so this has been so great. Good luck with the release!
Ryan: Yeah it’s been good fun! Havni: Thank you so much!
Watch the official video for "Daydreamer" below:
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