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Black British shoegaze band Whitelands have announced their debut album ‘Night-bound Eyes Are Blind To The Day’ 

Black British shoegaze band Whitelands have announced their debut album ‘Night-bound Eyes Are Blind To The Day’ which will be released 23rd February on Sonic Cathedral. The London-based four-piece are at the forefront of the new generation of Black British guitar music alongside Big Joanie and Bob Vylan and their debut album appears in the middle of their UK tour supporting shoegaze heroes Slowdive. It follows an incredible run of singles since signing to Sonic Cathedral, which has seen them playlisted by BBC Radio 6 Music and many others.

The debut album is accompanied by a brand new single and video for ‘Tell Me About It’, a fantastically noisy, hazy collaboration with label mate Dottie from deary. Frontman and guitarist Etienne wrote the song after being diagnosed with ADHD and how that filters the experience for falling in – or out – or love. “It’s about being lost with the aspect of love,” he explains. “It’s about dealing with break-ups, not in the sense of missing a relationship or a person, but the question of ‘am I doing this right?’ To me, it seems loving while being neurodivergent (ADHD) doesn’t follow a lot of the same rules, because I tend to fall in love with other neurodivergent people.” “I love how sweet the two vocals sound together, especially when the lyrics have a soft sadness to them”, adds Dottie.

It may feel like things have moved quickly for Whitelands, but in reality this has all been a long time coming. In fact, there’s an argument that this isn’t their debut album at all, with a self-titled, self-released 2018 release still sitting on Spotify, alongside some other teenage try-outs. This is their debut as a full band, however, as they have grown organically from a solo outlet for singer and guitarist Etienne – who took the band’s all-too-knowing name from the college at Roehampton University where he played his first show – into a brilliantly balanced four-piece with the addition of first Jagun (drums and backing vocals), then Vanessa (bass) and finally Michael (guitar). The four of them have since formed a tight bond and supported each other through various life struggles and their neurodivergence.

Ostensibly a shoegaze band ever since Etienne stumbled across the reformed Slowdive’s KEXP session in his recommended videos on YouTube in 2019 (“I listened front and back, again and again, it was that sound that I just really connected with”, he enthuses) they come at the resurgent, Gen Z-soundtracking genre from a refreshingly different angle.

Their mishmash of musical backgrounds adds to this uniqueness. Etienne played in a school band, Jagun used to sing in a choir and makes R&B as a solo artist, Vanessa comes from the metal and punk scene and Michael dabbles in techno. Or, as Vanessa puts it: “We’ll chat about a bass riff in an Explosions In The Sky song to an Ice Spice remix.”

There’s also the fact that their line-up is fully PoC in what is traditionally seen as a predominantly white genre. “I assumed there wouldn’t be many Black shoegaze bands,” admits Etienne. “So discovering A.R. Kane [who remixed the previous single ‘Setting Sun’ for an EP] and The Veldt was a real trip to me.”

“There’s an underlying narrative that it’s OK for white men to be romantic, sensitive, emotional and make dreamy music and, by contrast, young Black men should be making angry music,” adds Vanessa. “We’ve all grown up with these stereotypes and therefore I think people are mystified when they see Whitelands.”

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