Bleach Lab, the ethereal, dreamy four-piece band from South London, released their newest EP on Nov. 4. If You Only Feel It Once expands the group’s artistry in the pop-driven territory with their unique spin on things making this project a clear progression from their previous efforts.
The band consists of lead singer Jenna Kyle, drummer Kieran Weston, guitarist Frank Wates, and bassist Josh Longman. The band began forming in 2017 and debuted its first EP, A Calm Sense of Surrounding, in 2021. All of their music is full of heart and the free energy of a band willing to experiment with their sound (and nail it).
In our chat with Bleach Lab, we asked the band about what nostalgia means to them, learned about The Cure’s influence on them, and got some insight into their gorgeous ‘If You Only Feel It Once’ music video!
Can you tell us more about the title track of your upcoming project, ‘If You Only Feel It Once?’ What does that phrase mean to you, and what inspired it?
Jenna: I like to think it is up to the individual listener’s perspective! For me personally, I’m referring to “it” as the secure feeling of home. A lot of the overarching themes of this EP are of finding that security in other places and people. As I progress into my twenties, I have, like many other people, often felt lost, looking for that comfort of home. I have been lucky enough to know the distinct familiarity of home and the phrase is essentially an internal dialogue reminding me of that as I navigate through life.
You were recently signed to Nettwerk Music Group, congratulations! What’s it been like for the band since signing? What’s been the biggest change for you all so far?
Frank: It’s been great! It’s crazy and exciting to see the Bleach Lab team getting bigger and bigger. It’s a blessing and sometimes a curse to have so many opinions on everything we do now, but it’s reassuring to know we have the backing of a label. It’s added a lot of legitimacy to what we do.
How has this EP evolved since your first project, A Calm Sense of Surrounding, or is there a story or connection between all three of your EPs that unites them?
Jenna: This EP is on the furthest scale of “pop” that we have explored so far. However, that was arguably intentional, as we are still exploring and discovering our sound. We wanted to experiment with a different sound but retain that feeling of nostalgia and ethereal dreaminess of our previous releases. Lyrically all of our releases are united in that they are explorations of both mine and Josh’s inner thoughts, experiences, and feelings. A cathartic platform of sorts.
Kieran: As Jenna says this was definitely the poppiest we’ve gone as a band. I think we’ve leant more and more into that side of things with each EP, and this one was just us saying “okay let’s go with it and see what happens.” I personally love the result––I think it’s experimental, catchy, and nostalgic all one in one which is something I’m really proud to have captured. It still feels quintessentially “Bleach Lab” as a result of Frank’s jangly guitars, and Jenna’s dreamy vocals, but it explores a whole new area of the synth world we’ve never been into, and takes a lot of influence from 80’s bands like The Cure with some of the acoustic guitar performance and the drum production.
You guys wrote in an Instagram caption that this EP captures the nostalgia of finding home in people and places. What are some things that are the most nostalgic-feeling to you?
Jenna: Honestly, it’s not something I find easy to define because it is often fleeting memories or feelings of nostalgia that stay with me. The feeling of security, a safe place where you feel welcome and at home. It’s quite conceptual and hard to describe.
Take us behind the scenes of the ‘If You Only Feel It Once’ music video! What vibe or message did you guys want to portray through the visuals for this song?
Frank: It was a tough ask but we wanted the video to match the epic feel of the song. It’s one of our longest songs, super atmospheric and building. We felt from an early stage that a driving video would work great, so we knew we’d be hiring a car and basing a lot of the video around that. The climax of the song sees us performing around a fire––the fire to us represents the hearth, the home. So it’s still very much a central image of the video and the EP overall––we originally had plans for us all to be building a massive fire together as a group and eventually setting it alight in the video. But we happened to be filming the video in the middle of the droughts this summer, and there were loads of stories about fires getting out of control in the news, so we had to scale things back for safety!
What sounds influenced this EP sonically? Did you guys listen to anything in particular while creating it?
Frank: We all have our own listening habits, but for me it was a lot of Cassandra Jenkins (loved her latest album), Yumi Zouma (the genesis of a lot of the poppier touches that feature on the tracks), and The Cure (as always).
Kieran: The Cure were a huge influence for me on this EP. I love the way acoustic guitar carries tracks like “Friday I’m in Love” and “In Between Days,” which fully inspired “I Could Be Your Safe Place.” I also always wanted to try and write a Cure-esque bass lead line, and finally got the moment in the outro of “If You Only Feel It Once.” There’s also a lot of Selina on the tracks, which we dubbed “The Cure synth” through recording. Honestly, this EP owes a lot to them haha.
Jenna: Before and during writing the vocals and lyrics for this EP, I had artists like Phoebe Bridgers, Sharon Van Etten, and Julia Jacklin on repeat. Some of my biggest influences in terms of writing, melodies, and lyrics. I love how each of them individually tell their stories and how easy it is to relate to them on a personal level, which is something I aim for in my lyric writing.
What song from If You Only Feel It Once do you think will be the most fun for you guys to perform live? Is there anything you can tell us about any live show preparations regarding the new music?
Frank: It would be either “If You Only Feel It Once” or “I Could Be Your Safe Place.” The former builds a lot so it has a real cathartic feel when we play it live, and the latter is just a lot of fun, upbeat, dynamically varied and we all love the chorus! We have literally just returned from a short run of shows around the UK. Our London show was our biggest show to date and was an unreal experience!
Since this EP captures personal growth and searching for peace within yourself as you grow, what are some things you guys have learned about those concepts through the process of writing these songs?
Jenna: Honestly through writing some of these tracks, I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s okay to take your time with almost everything. I’ve since been considerably more trusting in the natural path that I believe we have laid out for us and less inclined to get caught up in worrying about what the future holds.
If you chose one certain lyric from this project to capture the entire mood of this new Bleach Lab era, which would it be?
Jenna: There are honestly quite a few. To name one is hard, but I would say possibly the second verse in “If You Only Feel It Once.” “Nothing ever seems to last, the days go by and they’re coming fast. You can feel yourself running out of time, the road gets longer ahead and I don’t think there’s a finish line.”
Lastly, just for some seasonal fun, because the concept of nostalgia and the feel of your music is so dreamy and cozy, what/who are some of your favorite songs or artists to listen to in autumn?
Frank: Skullcrusher, Anything by Alex G, the new Alvvays record, Yo La Tengo.
Jenna: I have an autumn/winter playlist called “soft winter.” It’s full of things like Slow Pulp, Hether, and Loving.
Kieran: The Paper Kites.
Open up your playlists right now and add this EP! Trust us. It’s necessary.
Stream If You Only Feel It Once here!
What are your favorite songs from If You Only Feel It Once? Let us know on Twitter @thehoneypop, or find us on Facebook and Instagram!
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