Since arriving in 2020 with her debut EP, the lo-fi, bedroom pop ‘New Conditions’, Irish artist April has been steadily carving a concrete place for herself in the playlists. Pivoting towards a more upbeat alt-pop sound, April has gone on to release three more mixtapes, collaborate with Alfie Templeman and get remixed by salute.
Her latest offering, the seven-track ‘Starlane’ sees April blend high-octane pop, UK garage, and drum ‘n’ bass with a contemplative, often ethereal tone. The result is an endlessly listenable snapshot of April’s emotions and experiences as she goes on a journey of self-exploration, examining her relationships and reactions following a breakup and a move to London from a small town in County Kildare.
Navigating her early 20s in an exciting new city, April found herself “going out a lot and partying – kind of escaping reality, doing dumb stuff and looking for that thrill of life”. The act of writing ‘Starlane’, however, acted as a perspective-shifting process, as not only was April able to unpack her thoughts and feelings, but ultimately, she learned how to love being alone again.
April spoke with Aimee Phillips about her creative process for ‘Starlane’, working with Jimi Somewhere, favourite Charli XCX tracks, and dreams of one day collaborating with James Blake.
Congratulations on the release of your new mixtape ‘Starlane’! As an artist, are you always aware of how you are processing emotions or experiencing situations, from a creative songwriting perspective?
Oh, no, definitely not. When I write songs, and when I was writing the songs for ‘Starlane’, I think as I was writing them, I was figuring out how I was feeling. And that’s something I always do when I’m writing songs. So I wasn’t really thinking in advance what I was going to write about – that is why I’m saying ‘Starline’ is about self discovery, because as I was piecing the songs together for the project, I was figuring it out as I was going.
How many songs had you created before whittling them down to the seven on ‘Starlane’? How did you pick them?
I have so many demos. I always wanted to make a project with a concept but I’m saving that for like an album. Like, have an idea in advance and then shape the songs around it. That’s what I want to do in the future. But for my mixtapes and like EPs that I’ve released, it’s been going through the songs that I have, and I have like, hundreds of demos. And these were the ones that I was loving. ‘Starlane’ was different than the other EPs because I’d write a song in a studio with Chris [the music producer RISC]. And then I’d know that I was gonna release it soon because I loved it so much. I had maybe like, let’s say 15 songs, not that much.
And then how did you choose the seven songs that would end up on the mixtape out of those 15?
I was trying to fit the sound together to be that kind of like electronic dancey pop world. And I was loving Charli XCX so much at the time. I was really trying to shape that kind of world as well. And I felt like any demos I was making that had that kind of sound of it, they’re the songs that I chose.
Speaking of Charli XCX, which are some of your favourite Charli songs?
‘7 Years’. My favourite project of hers is ‘how I’m feeling now’ – the lockdown album. So any songs off that. Also ‘claws’ and ‘Official’.
Can you give me a window into your writing process?
There’s loads of different ways that I write songs. I was just talking about this last night with my friends who also do this. As you’re making the music, you freestyle over it with a microphone, mumble nothing words, but freestyle a melody and a flow, and then sit back for an hour and listen to that and pick out what the sounds sound like and put words to them.
And then you are subconsciously figuring out what you’re thinking over. It’s really fun. Also, I’m constantly voice noting everything walking around. And lots of them are shit, but I’m constantly flowing ideas into my voice notes.
Is there a song from the record that particularly means a lot to you or resonates with you most right now?
‘Distraction’ is always my answer for that. Because it’s the one song that just feels so honest because it’s about myself. When I first wrote it, I played it for some people, a few friends, and somebody listened to it and thought it was about my ex or about people in my past. And I was like no, it’s about me. I love when a song does that – when someone thinks it’s about something else, but it’s not. But also a favourite song right now is ‘So Good at Being Lonely’, because it’s so fun.
You’ve also dropped a music video for your song ‘Distraction’ with Jimi Somewhere. Can you talk me through the concept for the video and what it was like making it?
Dylan [Fraser], my roommate, had this spotlight that he got for TikToks. I was trying to think of a simple idea for a video that we’d get done in one night. And then Jimi was like, how about you stand downstairs and I’ll stand on the balcony and shine the spotlight on you. That looked so cool that we walked around the streets and we did it all in one night with a little handheld camera. I’m really bad at like acting for videos. So this was just like me, walking around pretending I was in a music video. And I love that for the song because it just so real.
There’s the part of me in the bathroom putting on my makeup and eating McDonald’s on the side of the street. That self-deprecating destruction of yourself and loneliness as well. But in a pretty aesthetic way [laughs].
That video was created by Jimi but you also have him feature on your mixtape track ‘Impossible’. What is your creative relationship like?
We became friends this year. He’s just really creative and all of his ideas I love and trust. I had the song ‘Impossible’ written and when we were first talking, I sent it to him and I was like, ‘I really want you to feature on the mixtape’. And then he was like, ‘I’ll do Impossible’.
He’s been staying in London, so naturally, we made the [‘Distraction’] video together and are always making music. It’s good to have creative friends to bounce ideas off.
Is there anyone else you would love to collaborate with in the future?
I had a list before of really big names and then more attainable names. Producer-wise, I always dream about working with James Blake for that kind of a dark, synthy world. I like Mura Masa. Sega Bodega, who works with Caroline Polachek, and Charli [XCX]. Also all of those girls, I would love features with.
Which of your songs would you play someone to get them hooked on your music?
‘Distraction’. I feel like it’s the most myself.
Words: Aimee Phillips // @aimeephillips94