[Interview] With ... Estrons

Photo Credit: Imogen Forte

Written and created from a place of tension, Cardiff band Estrons' debut album You Say I'm Too Much, I Say You're Not Enough is a captivating piece of work that shows a dedication to creating new and exciting music of depth and complexity.

Ever since singer Tali Källström and guitarist Rhodri Daniel met as “Two strangers with disparate tastes and influences,” the two have been carving out a body of work that resembles an essence of chaos and beauty. The fascinating thing about opposites, is they need each other in order to exist and one would not be what it is without the other. 

The band's debut is an exploration of opposites. Looking outwards and inwards at the same time, it is the sound of people coming together and pulling apart. A close look at the human condition by two humans who could not be more different and the album reflects a an extreme range of conflicting emotions. With its extraordinary rhythms, angular guitar work and clashing atmospherics, the album is both arresting and disorienting. The complex relationship between Rhodri and Tali is tied together by Estrons' bassist Steffan Pringle, who also produces the band's music.       

Rhodri writes Estrons’ music and Tali looks after the lyrics. “We get the best out of each other, and it seems to be working. We end up with songs that neither of us envisioned, but we love them even more because of it.” 

Rhodri and Tali wrote some of the album’s tracks at the end of last year in a destitute cottage in the heart of West Wales but more often than not, they write apart, sending voice memos to one another when inspiration hits. It's All Indie was keen to catch up with Tali to get her thoughts on the album, touring with Garbage and their future plans.  

It has been and continues to be a super-hectic time for Estrons. They have just played a number of European dates, some record shop in-stores and are about to embark on a UK tour.

Congratulations on your debut album, it is such a triumph! Are you happy with the end result? What do you feel its strong points are?

Thank you! Happy it is done that is for sure. A lot of hard labour went into it and I think that comes across when you listen to it. Much time and emotion and striving to get it to how we had it in our heads. It needed to have character as well as that and sounded like we meant it. I think we definitely achieved that in the end.

How would you describe the process of recording and the time it took to get the songs ready?

We didn’t have much time to get ready, only a couple of days in pre-production and that was it, we were straight to tracking drums and bass. It was a complicated process and time management was crucial. I had to travel back and forth from Brighton to Swansea to look after my son then pelt back the five hours to do vocal takes. We spent long nights and early hours in the studio to the point of borderline madness. It was incredibly intense. 

Steffan produced the album, did he do the mixing and who engineered it?

We tracked a lot of it with Alex Newport at Brighton Electric but then due to time constraints we finished the bits we felt needed more work with Steffan in his work space in Cardiff. It was quite a jumble of people who contributed to the mixing process as we wanted to get it completely right. Incredibly DIY at times. 

How would you describe Steffan’s input and approach to producing it?

Steffan had a big influence on the Estrons sound before he joined the band and is definitely now the glue that holds it together. He doesn’t get frustrated or impatient and he allows people to feel comfortable so they have the freedom to feel creative and get the best out of them whilst also giving incredibly useful advice on how to get things right. That was a huge help putting down vocals.

How focused were you on achieving a particular sound?

It had to sound how we had it in our heads. We were confident that our sound would be cohesive and unique throughout the album due to our separate parts being distinctive in themselves. I think it was the mixing that we found difficult, for a long time nothing sounded right. We are riding on a lot of different genre influences at times and I think that plus long nights listening and staring at a computer screen did mean it got harder to get it sounding like “us”. We got there though, hard things are hard.   

What time period would you say the songs represent? How did you go about selecting the tracks to go on the album?      

They cover songs that we wrote from five years ago all the way up to five hours into pre-production (well, we wrote a chorus there). We wanted it to show the journey we had been on since becoming a band, our many facets. That is definitely the end result.  

You did a session for Annie Mac Live for BBC Radio 1, how did you find that?

Pretty terrifying knowing it was going out completely live, but once we got into it I really enjoyed it. It felt like a skydive. Half the exhilaration was knowing we might die.  

How did you go about preparing for it?  

The day before I visited a crystal healer/clairvoyant. She blew on me loads and made me hold a stone to my voice box. I was so scared I would lose my voice before the show, I was panicking. That was mostly nerves. I didn’t talk to anyone for three days and used paper to communicate. Am I starting to sound completely insane yet?   

Did you enjoy the live dates with Pussy Riot in Edinburgh?  

It was a last minute offer that came through and we pulled out all the stops to make sure we could do it. The shows were incredible - well attended and Edinburgh is one of our favourite places to play. We didn’t get to spend that much time with Pussy Riot until the last evening but they were incredibly interesting people who are very passionate about their art. 

You were on tour with Garbage, what was that experience like?

Amazing. They were all such accommodating people and so incredibly inspiring. Very cool. The shows themselves were the biggest crowds we had ever played to and you would be surprised to know it is actually easier to play to thousands than it is to smaller crowds.  

Did you know the band members in Garbage prior to going on tour with them?

No. They would definitely have heard of us somehow and kept sending us praise so we felt very happy when we got asked to go on tour.

What do you feel you can take or learn from them?

Shirley taught me to never let anyone take away my power. That is sound advice. 

Estrons are due to play live non-stop between now and February 2019, how does that feel?

It will be great now that every song in the set people will have had the chance to listen to and know now. I don’t get nervous before shows now, I mainly get excited, and then sad when it is over. That has been a big change for me.

What current bands do you admire? Did any particular bands or artists inspire you during the recording of the debut?

I am not really listening to any bands at the moment. And I had no one inspiring me during the recording that I was consciously aware of. I am listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar and Thundercat. And lots of dancehall. Usually during recording I will think about the experiences I am singing about and really immerse myself in that moment to make sure I get the best out of it.

Are you thinking working on new material for a second album? How different do you think it will be compared to the debut?

We do have new material already half written. A lot of it is softer and the faster stuff is quite eerie. It is definitely going to be an unexpected turn for us. 

Are you happy with Estrons’ journey and progress so far?

We are never happy, we always want what is next and we never take a moment just to sit and enjoy what w have achieved, it is quite a big problem actually. I have learnt to just be grateful that I get to travel and perform and meet new people whilst doing what I love.   

What future plans or aspirations do you have? How far are you hoping to take Estrons?

I would like it to continue and become a profession for us, that is all I would like. I am not after great fame or riches. I just love doing it, it is who I am now.   

Live dates
13 October - Middlesbrough - Twisterella Festival 1
4 October - LLannelli - LLannelli Library
19 October - Cardiff - SWN Festival 2018
 November - Leeds - Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen
2 November - Glasgow - King Tut's Wah Wah Hut
3 November - Newcastle Upton Tyne - Think Tank
7 November - Manchester - Soup Kitchen
8 November - Bristol - The Lousiana
9 November - Nottingham - The Bodega Social Club
14 November - Exeter - Cavern Club
15 November - Birmingham - Castle & Falcon
16 November - Brighton - The Green Door Store
17 November - Caernarfon - Galeri Caernarfon
23 November - Carmarthen - The Parrot
6 December - Cardiff - The Globe
7 February - London - Scala