meet the psychedelic london band ulrika spacek ahead of their visions set

i-D caught up with lead singer Rhys Edwards, to chat about the band’s London night Oysterland, their trippy visuals and how they got their strange name.

by Charlotte Gush
05 August 2016, 2:23pm

We first encountered the psychedelic live show of London five piece Ulrika Spacek at The Waiting Room, the basement space of the Three Crowns pub in Stoke Newington, in April this year; their kaleidoscopic visuals blending with the hypnotic, but propulsive rhythms of their almost tantric brand of fuzzy psych rock. Having made waves with debut record The Album Paranoia, released in February, the band went on tour with DIIV before embarking on a summer of festivals, racking up performances at London Calling, Paris International Festival of Psychedelia, and Best Kept Secret in the Netherlands, among others.

Ahead of their set at Visions Festival in London this Saturday, and their biggest headline show to date at Electrowerkz on 27 September, i-D caught up with singer and guitarist Rhys Edwards to find out more about the band...

How did the band come together?
About two years ago Rhys and I started making music together with the view of making a record. We had known each other for a long time but had only listened to music together rather than attempt to make anything. We made the album in a shared house in Homerton starting in Rhys' room, moving up to mine and then finished it in the living room. Around this time we asked our friends Joseph Stone, Ben White and Callum Brown to join and we started playing shows together.

Where does the band name come from?
It came from a moment in the night that we formed the band. Rhys had come to visit me in Berlin and we were joking about badass sounding names. Both Ulrike Meinhof and Sissy Spacek were mentioned and I think Ulrika Spacek came out after that. It was a few hours later when we decided that we would start making music together, but I guess Ulrika Spacek had already been coined. Maybe in a parallel universe we're called Sissy Meinhof.

How would you describe the music that you make?
We are often asked to define ourselves according to genre, but it's not something we are interested in doing. The other way round is more interesting. One person may see us as a drone rock band, another as pop. A lot of the songs have been made out of loops. That's not to say there isn't 'songwriting' in there but there are certainly large sections where the mind gets to wonder. At the moment most of our music has been made on a guitar. The first record plays with repetition and fuzz, though it does nod to many different places.

Visuals are key to your live show - tell us more about them?
From a very early stage we have played with visuals. We just feel at our most comfortable when the lights are off and the visuals can play tricks on the eye. Think we actually play better when you can barely see what you are doing. For us it removes that notion of 'we are on a stage, performing for you' that feels a bit weird to us. Using projections is by no means an original idea, though in using them in combination with a worm-holing live camera I'd like to think that we are doing something visually interesting.

Tell us about your night, Oysterland?
When we first started playing gigs we wanted to do them on our terms. Doing them ourselves allowed us to choose who played with us and to combine the nights with various art exhibitions. It was a way to celebrate other people's work. As a band it's pretty easy to get a gig, but for people doing things in other mediums there seems a bit of a barrier in being able to display work. It may have only been in a backroom of a pub, but I'm glad we did it and will continue to do it, even if it's a bit more sporadic. We haven't done one for a while but will be announcing one soon.

What are your inspirations?
We take influences from many places. Just a matter or soaking up what you like around you, unconsciously processing it, then making something that feels like it came out of nowhere. Most of us have known each other for a long time, there are a lot of of influences that we share. I remember being obsessed with shoegaze at one point, krautrock at another time, Stanley Kubrick etc. There's a lot of influences that come out in some way, shape or form. Nothing is made in a vacuum.

What's your favourite song of yours?
I think Airportism, which is the last track on the record. One of those songs that took hardly any time to record. It's obviously a very simple song, but we have fond memories of recording it. Wish all songs felt that effortless to do.

Which film do you think your music would best soundtrack?
Something not 'epic'. One also made in a bedroom/living room, for sentimental reasons as that's where we made something.

What are you up to for the rest of the summer?
We have played quite a few festivals so far, and have a couple more to go. We play visions in london this week, then a few in France and Holland. We then have a UK/EU tour in September that will be starting at Liverpool Psych Festival.

What are you working on right now?
We are currently doing our second album. We seem to be developing a habit of doing albums when it's summer outside. It is nearly there, just a couple more weeks..

Catch Ulrika Spacek at Visions Festival in London this Saturday, at Liverpool Psych Fest in September and at their headline show at Electrowerkz on 27 September.


Text Charlotte Gush

music interviews
rhys edwards
ulrika spacek