Testing the water

Text by Charlie Jones

Photography by Melika Ngombe

As a band, Eaux developed from the break-up of the Sian Alice Group in 2010. Over the course of a near-perfect series of singles and two albums, the group transposed the intricately crafted bliss of techno onto live instruments, with singer Sian Ahern's vocals riding over. Eaux is an inverse approach: a band experimenting with live electronics over acoustics and raw improvisation over a defined structure. Songs emerge from 20-minute jams captured on an iPhone in their east London rehearsal studio. Ideas are then revisited, built up, then played live and direct at a local studio. In short, minimal overdubs and total instinct.

Having released just two tracks to date, "Luther" and "No More Power", with another EP on the way, Eaux have found themselves marked as one to watch in London's vibrant music scene. They take it in their stride. "What you're listening to is the interaction between the three of us and our origins." explains band member, Stephen Warrington.

"Honesty is very important," says Ben Crook. Chatty, funny and gregarious, he continues, "There's a real honesty about what we do - we're not coming at this pretending we're something else. At the moment, music videos have a tendency to portray some idea of reality, from using hand-held cameras and a faux documentary style. Pop music is escapism, but when that becomes reality, there's a strange disconnect, and I feel as though we've been living in this hyper-real landscape since the early '00s. Subconsciously perhaps, we're a reaction to that. We are who we are, and we make what we make. We are presenting the idea of laying it all out in the open."

Ahern explains more about the process of writing. "It's hands-on playing and then seeing what happens. Words are phonetically rather than semantically important, and in terms of us working, it's three people in a room, feeling their way around, with no rules. The only restrictions are the equipment and the number of hands we've got to play them."

This is a band that explores the tensions between chaos and control, intimacy and ambience, imagination and rigour. Its freeform foundations indicate a keen interest in a broad variety of music, ranging from modern classical to industrial and the looser margins of jazz and folk. All the while retaining nothing more than a beguiling simplicity and lightness.

When asked what it is like to make their music, Stephen admits it isn't easy to articulate in words. He talks of a feeling that borders on the spiritual, and adjectives such as "truth" and "purity" crop up in the conversation.

"There is a transcendental sense of what you're saying coming out with a purer meaning," he suggests. To which, Sian quickly adds, "It's really cool. I've gotten into the idea that you can just come out with what your mouth says and go with it, and that itself can inspire you on to new... Actually I've done enough thinking about it. I just want to get on with it." §

Eaux's next EP is released in November on Morning Ritual Records.

  • Eaux