“The music industry really doesn’t reward longevity.”
This statement from British India’s Declan Melia seems strange at first given that British India has been able to remain relevant throughout the course of a decade whilst other bands around them have fallen away. However during our time speaking with Declan he is able to mount a strong argument as to why he feels the band has been able to persevere.
Strangely Melia feels British India’s longevity is because they’ve never had an overnight hit single.
“When you have a big hit it places a bookmark in your career which everyone will always compare you to. So by not having a hit that is strangely what has given us longevity.”
Despite not have one “hit” the band has been incredibly successful throughout their career with four Top 10 ARIA albums and eight entries into the Hottest 100. Obviously they’ve been doing something right, yet even with this success they still wanted to innovate and push boundaries with their latest offering Forgetting The Future.
“It was a tough direction to take but when we looked back at some of the songs in our back catalogue we felt they were a little overproduced or flowery and [thus] lost the emotion,” said Melia. “So with this record we wanted to strike a balance between keeping the emotion but still have the songs be sophisticated, elegant and layered.”
In order for the group to be able to realise this vision they had to first return to the music which they first listened to and fell in love with. Now as more mature listeners they were able to listen to bands such as Bloc Party, The Rapture and The Presets with a more educated and critical ear to pinpoint exactly what made those bands and records so great 10 years ago.
During their 10 year career not only have British India matured as artists they’ve also witnessed a paradigm shift in the music industry.
“It used to be that you’d get a record deal, put out a record and be massive,” explained Melia.
That wasn’t exactly the case for British India though. Their most recent international success has come thanks to online streaming and one of their songs was simply placed on the right playlist at the right time.
“Being put on a certain playlist can be just as good as a record deal now because your music can be heard by millions of people.”
Whilst there have been drastic changes behind the scenes of the music industry Melia points out that the connection with fans is still incredibly important and something which British India are very proud of.
“Some of these songs are 10 years old now so they have a nostalgia attached to them. It’s still just sinking in to me that people know the lyrics to Said I’m Sorry which came out nine years ago, so it’s all weird to me.”
Looking ahead Melia’s biggest fear isn’t further changes to the industry but rather maintaining that special songwriting spark.
“It’s easy to write a song, but what’s hard is writing a good song!”
Jun 30. Oxford Art Factory, 38-46 Oxford St, Darlinghurst. $34.10+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.oxfordartfactory.com