D//E Interviews: Iress

Although Flaw is not the first album by Los Angeles band, Iress, all things point to it being the band's big breakthrough. The album sprung a series of very consistent and engaging singles, and when it was released in its entirety a couple of weeks ago, it became evident that despite its title it is devoid of flaws, and works impeccably as a unit.

The band's own Alex and Michelle discuss the new album, the Iress' sound and creativity and more in the interview which follows.

How has the band evolved since 2015's Prey? How different is that album compared to Flaw?

Alex: Iress’ sound and approach to writing has evolved a lot since releasing Prey in 2015. We have shifted our creative focus to creating a heavier, bigger, and more cinematic sound. We spend more time re-working our songs, usually ending up with multiple demo versions before settling on a final product. We spent more time with Flaw and put a lot more of our raw emotion into this album.

Michelle: Oh man, we have evolved so much since then! We were still so young and trying to find our sound at that point. We always had the soft, quiet verses and loud, heavy choruses, but we have taken a step away from the grunge indie sound we had previously. It actually felt a bit risky changing our sound because people do love a good grunge song with a catchy pop melody, but heading in this direction was a natural progression for us. We had a different drummer when we recorded Prey, so when Glenn joined the band late 2015, we all bonded over our love for heavy and dark music. Prey and Flaw definitely feel almost like night and day, but I can still find similarities in both. Wolves is actually on both records and it kind of paints a picture of how much we’ve grown.

How did Sarah Tudzin end up working on the album?

Alex: Sarah was a good friend of ours for some time before we got into the studio together. We originally planned on recording a single but after a smooth and fun experience working together we all decided to do a full album.

Michelle: Sarah has been a close friend for years, but we’ve never worked together, even though we knew she was a talented producer/engineer. She asked if we wanted to record a song with her to get a feel for working together, and when we did, it felt like the stars aligned. After a seamless recording of Shallow, it just made sense to work on the full album together. She’s the best producer we’ve ever worked with, and we definitely plan on working with her on future albums.

How are the band's dynamics on stage? How long has it been since you played live?

Alex: We have a lot of fun on stage even though our music has a very serious tone. I personally feed a lot off of Michelle’s vocal performance and often change the way I’m playing guitar for each song live depending on how far she stretches her vocal limit. We are huge fans of the quiet, loud, quiet dynamic in both our performance and in music we love to listen to. It’s been a year since our last show and needless to say we are itching to get back on stage.

Michelle: We are loud and demand your attention and kind of creep up on you. We play with our entire bodies and souls, and I feel the most whole when I’m playing live. When I put my guitar down for some songs, it takes everything in me not to get lost in the crowd and scream in everyone's faces. I know for sure when we play again, I won’t be able to hold back.

It’s been a year now since we have played live on a stage with an audience. I actually had to double check because it’s incredibly sad. Our last show was at The Echo, opening up for Brutus, and it was an epic show. I actually broke my arm in 2019 so we played the show while I was broken. It was quite emotional and memorable.

There haven't been any videos for any of the new album's tracks so far. Is that a deliberate choice? Is it among the band's plans to create something on the visual front?

Alex: We do have a video and live performance in the works. It hasn’t been a deliberate choice to not make videos but more of what we can and cannot do since we self release everything we put out. With that said we would love to start making more visual art to accompany our music. One of my favorite past times is sitting on my couch watching old music videos by my favorite bands. I would love to have a solid set of visuals for Iress in the future.

Michelle: We are definitely working on some visual releases that we will announce soon. It's been very difficult for us during the pandemic to get everyone together, but we're so excited to release a video for one of the singles very soon.

Which are some of the new album's themes?

Alex: Flaw addresses themes such as addiction, heartbreak, loss of faith, and the complexities of love. We draw from both personal and shared experiences and try to find common ground in its interpretation. Many of the themes on Flaw come from a very deep-seated set of emotions that me and Michelle both share and the overall melancholy felt often that we can only express through creating with Iress

Michelle: The ocean is a common theme throughout the album that we use to symbolize pain and hardship. In Underneath, we draw a parallel between the inviting darkness of the ocean and the deep, melancholic pull you feel when you get lost in another person. We’ve been through so much while writing Flaw, and you can feel it if you listen closely.

Flaw feels like a deeply emotional record from end to end. Do you think that the level of sentimentality is achieved more through the band's writing or the performance?

Alex: It’s a mix of both that gets us to that level of emotion. I would say that we lean more towards the performance side of this question however. We usually write the music and melody before any lyrics are down on paper. Each song's meaning and feeling stems from how we play and connect to it sonically.

Michelle: Both for sure. We write from a heavy, emotional place and I think that’s mirrored in our live performances.

From where do the songwriting ideas derive mostly?

Alex: We draw from our personal experiences and like to write songs that we would listen to on our own. We are all fans of heavy music and draw inspiration from finding new sounds/concepts in all settings, especially when appreciating the natural beauty of the world.

Michelle: Our songwriting usually stems from life experience, but sometimes a song from a band I love will inspire me. Attending live shows would always  stimulate my creative mind, so it has been a real struggle adjusting to life without them.

Doomgaze is thrown around a lot in descriptions of Iress' sound. What do you think prevails more in the new album? The heaviness or the shoegaze qualities?

Alex: Doomgaze is a term that started to follow us around more in the last two years, it has been the easiest term to use to describe our sound. I think the heaviness prevails more on Flaw and the shoegaze qualities are a compliment to the big drums and guitar sounds. The shoegaze influence seems to make the songs more palatable for the non-heavy listener.

What do you listen to mostly these days?

Alex: I listen to mostly heavy guitar driven music. I listen to a lot of Emma Ruth Rundle, Alice In Chains, Cloakroom, and old nineties favorites. If I’m in my car it is almost always thrash metal.

Michelle: Well to start, I recently discovered a band called Unloved this week, and I love it. I’m a sucker for a sad song. Two of my favorite bands are Radiohead and Deftones, so anything that fits into that mold, I usually fall in love with. I’m also drawn to anything with a beautiful female pop vocal. Some of my current top played artists are: This Will Destroy You, King Woman, Massive Attack, Portishead, Cloakroom, Slowdive, Nothing, Explosions in the Sky, Angel Olsen, Interpol, Cigarettes After Sex, Sharon Van  Etten, DIIV, Chelsea Wolfe.

Are there any immediate plans for the band after the album's release?

Alex: We are planning on releasing the album on vinyl and getting right back to writing. There is talk of a new EP to follow this release.

Michelle: If everything were normal, we would probably be touring right now, and we definitely would have planned a release show in LA. But alas, we must adapt to reality. 

For now, I want to get started on the next album, especially since there is no clear timeline on when touring and live shows will resume. Writing is my number one priority right now. I cannot wait to get back in the studio and share more music with the world.

Band photo by David Fearn

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