Forged under the electronic dance music scene in the UK, rock band Deluka boasts a unique sound that is slowly making its way across American dance floors. Virtually musical nomads, the four piece band leave their nest in New York to travel far and wide, bringing their high energy performances to intimate venues all over. In a hotel in Los Angeles, front woman Ellie Innocenti picks up the phone to chat with MXDWN.
Howdy, Ellie. How are you?
I’m good. I’m stuck in a hotel right now. We’re in LA at the moment. We leave tomorrow for New York.
How is the tour going?
Good. It’s not a full tour, but just a few shows here and there to introduce ourselves to the west coast. We’ve driven back and forth to San Francisco like four times. But it’s been going good; very exciting.
That’s not most fun drive in the world, from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Actually I don’t mind it. We take the van rather than fly. I would have liked to take the coast all the way up but to save time we drove through the countryside.
So, you guys are getting to your shows by land?
Well, we flying when it’s a ridiculous distance but we’ve been driving locally; spending eight hours in a van.
Oh, yeah. I’ve seen that van. It looks roomy.
Yeah, it’s fine actually. We’re all quite good with it. Some bands go touring and it can be very hard and that can be the downfall of the band we’re all just so excited to be here and to see all of the different terrains of America. We’re very lucky. Most people don’t get to see what we’re seeing so we can appreciate that.
It must be all new and exciting to you.
What live performances are you doing in the immediate future?
We just got a booking agent so there is going to be an extensive tour that will coincide with the album but it’s all up in the air at the moment, nothing is confirmed although it is imminent and we just have to be ready when it’s called out; but the next few dates will be in New York.
So after this imminent tour what are your plans as a band?
Kris and I are quite eager to start writing again. We’ve been collecting all of these ideas and it’s just about time to go back in just to exercise those demons. Any chance we get we’re going to go in and see what happens since we’re going to be busy. So by the time this next tour is over it might be time to start writing again.
That’s good to hear that there is no lack of inspiration for you guys.
Certainly not. In the last three months we have done so many things. We’ve really had a good time and it’s been really intense. It’s probably the best summer we’ve ever had as a band.
Let’s start from the beginning, Ellie. When and where did Deluka find its origins?
We’ve been together for, like, three years. Kris and I have been writing songs together for longer than that, but the bulk of the band has been together for about three years. We all met at this venue in Birmingham called The Duke of Ale. It was just this place where we would all hang out and Kris used to DJ at and we would sometimes play as a band. We would go in there and get some drinks and all of the usual stuff you do when you’re young. We got together because we all like electronic music and dance music.
Does Kris still DJ?
Yeah, he does. I guess we all just like to party.
What are your individual experiences in other bands?
I used to be in a singer and song writing duo with my best mate who used to sing as well. That was my early experience playing shows and it taught me how to write songs and perform as well. I played hundreds of shows like that. I was, like, fourteen when I started to perform in that duo. It’s a very different vibe than Deluka. It wasn’t really the music I’d listen to so I was always on the lookout for someone like Kris who is so capable with electronics and synths and programming. He was basically the perfect person for me to start a band with because that was the kind of music I was into; electronic and rock band stuff. Kris was in another duo with electronic instruments at the time, so it worked out well because we both had what each other needed. I had songs and he had the music side, if you know what I mean. I wrote the song structures and the melodies and the lyrics and he had all the sounds so it was just a good combination, really.
So merely combining those two sounds yielded Deluka?
Yeah, and we met Steve who was in another band in Birmingham, and they were falling apart at the time and Steve was a really good friend of ours and he was totally into the music that we were writing. It just feels like a natural progression. Robbie was late to join but he is really into rock n roll and electronic music as well. It was the right four people at the right time.
That Rob is a character. Is he full of that much energy all the time?
Oh, yeah. He’s a livewire alright.
Your debut album, You are the Night, is out now. Have you spent the last three years developing this?
Not all of it. The album was written by Kris and I in three months last year, and then we added a couple songs after that. But it took only three or four months of writing in New York. We went in with nothing and we came out with that [album]. It was a very intense time for us because I haven’t written anything outside of my bedroom studio before, which was quite mind blowing to have the New York skyline behind us while we’re recording.
That sounds amazing.
Yeah. We come from Birmingham which is very… I don’t know. It’s not New York but it’s everything we’ve ever known, so doing this album was very intense.
Is there a background to the name Deluka?
The name comes from a film. It’s basically an occurrence of Julia Roberts’ best mate where she is this little prostitute with a heart. The name really isn’t to be taken too seriously; it’s just a name we came up with. It sounded good, it looked good graphically, and we just went with it. You just need a name at the end of the day, don’t you?
It kind of rolls off the tongue.
Exactly. It doesn’t suggest anything musically and we like that about it. On one day we can be a rock band and another day we can be an electronic band because that is both of our styles.
It’s still interesting to know where it came from. Back to the album, did you have a favorite memory from when you were recording You are the Night?
Absolutely loads. Kris and I would do in to the studio in the dead of night and we would work all through the night. We had never really had no boundaries before. Obviously when you’re recording in your own bedroom there are all of these restrictions and this was the first time we could actually let go and go crazy and we certainly did that. I remember when we were recording we were down and missing our friends because we didn’t really have any friends in New York, though we do now, but we were in this big city and kind of excited by it even though we felt like outsiders. There was a moment in there where we were both feeling the pressure and going a little bit crazy and that is one of the songs on the record. There is another song, “Come Back to Me”, that happened instantly and that is another special one. But they all have their moments and depending on what mood you’re in there is something for you to listen to.
How would you describe your style of performance as a band?
We don’t constrict ourselves to the studio. We’re not the sort of band to jam around and write in that way, it’s not our style. When we play live it takes on quite a more poetic vibe. There is a lot of energy. There is never a gig where we come off stage and aren’t covered in sweat and if there was then it wasn’t a good show, do you know what I mean?
Yeah, you really give it your all.
Absolutely and the audience deserves that. And if we don’t do that then we’re kind of selling ourselves short.
Your music listens as intensely surreal, spacey, dance disco. Where do you draw inspiration to write the lyrics, Ellie?
Lyrically I have always just connected words in a notebook. Everyday I’m writing something; a word or a sentence that I’m always putting it down. Then when we get to the studio I’m allowed to be spontaneous and I look in the notebook and look at the words and they will trigger something. So, I’ll draw from those words, and then it’s a stream of consciousness. I get inspired by how I things I know and how I feel or things around me and my friends. It’s all pretty honest. Every single song is about something. They’re not just words thrown together; everything means something to me. I just hope it can connect in some way with other people.
So there is actually a lot of meaning behind seemingly random words thrown together.
Absolutely. They are not random to me. Everything has a meaning; otherwise it’s useless or I’m just not interested in it.
I hope people take the time to read into the lyrics in addition to the music.
Yeah. It’s something that I think about and is not just thrown together. I feel like if they’ll find something special if they can be bother to peel them back. Everybody listens to things in different ways. Some people listen to the music and they don’t think about the words and some people focus mainly on the words and there is definitely something there for both of those people.
Yeah, like you have Kris, who did just electronic music without lyrics, and you did your singing and songwriting acoustic stuff, so the band seems like it has a good balance of those.
Yeah, we’re quite a good team in that respect. Kris will be stuck playing one thing and building up the sound of the song, and I’ll be in the room and something happens and we have a song with structure and form and it becomes something. That’s the way we work.
You guys have a good synergy there. You also travel a lot. You recorded in Brooklyn, but are based in New York, right?
We’re based in New York. The label that we’re singed to basically plucked us out of Birmingham and put us in New York. That was a first because we’ve never been to America and New York has such a rich musical history that it’s just mind blowing and so inspirational. We’re pretty happy to be up there; it’s like out second home. It’s a good city to be in; so exciting!
How do you find the scene over there is receptive to your music?
We are building up quite a fan base now. There is a Brooklyn scene and there is a Manhattan scene and we’re not trying to be a certain style; we just are what we are. We’re not trying to appeal to just the club kids. It’s like, this is me and this can be shared; it’s not exclusive.
Do you notice a difference in the local fan base when you play in different cities?
There are subtle differences. Brooklyn has the club kids in it but it just depends on the night and how the audience responds to you.
When you get frustrated from writing a song what does Deluka do to blow off steam that isn’t music?
I guess we go out and hang out with our friends or see films or we’re reading books, you know.
All of the regular activities then.
All of the normal stuff, yeah! You’ve got to let your hair down every now and again.
Definitely. Thank you for taking the time to share a few words with me. Hopefully I’ll see you at some future performance in LA.
Cool. Nice talking with you.